Always Something with Chickens

I knew it had been too long since we had any chicken drama. They certainly know how to get themselves in trouble, even with all these dogs guarding them. They can’t help it; they are chickens.

On Saturday, I noticed that Barbara, the dark black new hen that should lay very dark eggs, was sitting a lot. Now, lots of the chickens were sitting, because it was hot. But she was sitting a lot. On Sunday, I noticed she was dragging one of her legs. Oh no, she had hurt herself in all that rain and slop. And I quickly realized the other chickens were pecking away at her and pulling out her feathers. The only good thing about that is they weren’t pecking Billie Idyl (who is fine now).

Speaking of rain, you can see how high the water got on Monday

So, I took the advice I was given and let the other new hens into the big pen a week earlier than I had planned to. That led to a lot of squawking and chasing. Eventually, everyone has come to terms with the bigger flock, though each sub-flock sticks to itself, like rival street gangs or something. If a bug shows up, though, they all go for it.

Old chickens in front, new ones in back.

After a day of rest, Barbara seemed happier and was eating and drinking, but her leg kept folding under. So, when Kathleen, etc., came back yesterday, we decided to pull a Dr. Pol. That means we have been watching a LOT of veterinarian shows on television. The three of us got together and got a splint on Barbara. My job was holding her. She was good.

Barbara in her first splint

The splint was some flexible wire, with bandages under it to cushion her leg, and wrap around it. The first one had a bent leg, as shown above. She had a hard time with it. I realized that is not how they usually hold their legs. So, we redid it more straight.

That’s better.

This makes it easier for her to lay down and rest, and she can hobble around to get to her food and water. She seems okay for now.

We’re okay, too. Thanks for asking.

My hope is that Barbara heals up and can get around soon. This morning she had obviously moved around a lot, and was standing. Good signs. I know she stands a better chance without all the pecking and trying to flee pecking. And these new ones made it 6 weeks before any accident, so not too bad.

Call me Stumpy

By the way, it’s time for all the swallows to fledge, just like the purple martins at my friend Donna’s house. We have dozens and dozens of them flying around right now, including ones who have nests around our house. This morning, I looked out the window by our stairs, and saw at least ten of them sitting on the roof.

A few of the barn swallows, seen through the screen.

Upon closer inspection, I saw it was two families, four parents and their chicks, who had just fledged. Some of those babies were figuring out how to stand on solid surfaces. It was so cute, and really made me feel better as I set out to face yet another difficult day at work.

Enjoying a Pleasant Morning with a “Friend”

This morning was really pleasant. I went out to take a few pictures and check on the new pullets, then sat on the porch for a ten-minute coffee break. It was breezy, so the mosquitoes that tried to suck all my blood yesterday weren’t out. I took this picture to post on Instagram, planning to caption it “What I’d like to be doing the rest of the day.”

Just enjoying my morning.

I thought I was alone on my break, but no, the rocking chair across from me had someone else enjoying a pleasant break.

I’m enjoying my morning, too.

Well, hey there rat snake. I thought, wow, what a cute little snake, but when I got up to get a better photo, I saw it’s not a little snake, not at all. It’s probably close to my height.

The tail just keeps going.

Since it was not actively in the process of eating eggs from my hens, I left it to enjoy its morning. And it is why we are keeping the grass near the house mown nice and short (as long as we can keep lawn mowers going).

Speaking of which, in addition to getting new blades that cut evenly, our good old riding mower also has a new feature designed to keep my brother-in-law more cool and less heat stroked: an umbrella! Most of the area we mow has no obstructions, but he can lower it to get close to fences and the house. I hear it feels twenty degrees cooler under there! With summer coming up, that is a fine thing.

Fancy lawn mower.

Other “home improvements” that I took pictures of on my morning walk include this chicken ramp. I had put a board up to help them get high in their roost area, but it was too slippery, so they now have a custom ramp made from scrap wood. I know they used it last night, because there’s poop in the roost area in the cage! Yay!

Stairs to the penthouse

Now the chickens have more area to spread out in, which is good, because they spend most of their time chasing each other, when they aren’t eating. At least they are all still with us!

Just being chickens
Peeeeep

I also figured out why we hear so much bird noise in the evenings. The barn swallows are nesting AT LAST, right outside the back door. Since that’s where the dog door is, we can hear them well. I’m quite relieved to see this, because they are running late this year (no doubt thanks to that bad ole Uri storm in February). This is good news.

I’m not the only one who got to see a pretty snake yesterday. This garter snake was over at Sara’s. It got run over, though. They’re so lovely.

That’s it for the morning ranch report!