Saturday, December 22, 2012

A new improved Bunny!

Remember Bunny our "rescued" chicken? 
 All summer long she looked real beat up and ragged.  She had a large gash on the back of her neck and was missing feathers on her back.
A full molt has produced a transformation and she is such a beautiful chicken!

Monday, August 27, 2012

It's been a while...

Wow, I haven't posted anything here all summer.  I guess we are at a point where, well, quite honestly chicken farming is pretty routine and not all that exciting.  I still get giddy when all the girls lay an egg on the same day, but that's been a rare event.  I'm still happy with the 5, 6, or 8 a day we get.  Plus we've been busy working on the house, hiding from the heat, keeping up with the garden (which has been very good to us again this year) or just doing fun summer things.

There really has been nothing new to tell.  Bunny is part of the family now although she still is not allowed up on the roost at night to sleep.  Instead she makes herself comfy on top of the nesting boxes.  No biggee, until winter sets in and she may need the communal heat.  We'll see what happens.

One of our Plymouth Rocks has developed this weird bald, red rump.  She's acting normal and laying regularly.  We did some searching for an answer and all I can narrow it down to is that boredom is setting in and maybe a few of the other birds are pulling her feathers out.  Then today I witnessed it.  Georgia went in for the kill and came out with a feather in her mouth.

Sorry, I know it's gross but that's life.

Now, what to do?  Adding vinegar to their water is a solution but I don't know why.  Giving them something new or something to do seemed more like a more logical idea.  I like the rolling treat ball but Georgia seems to think I put it in there only for HER.  She doesn't let anyone else "play" with it and can be pretty mean.  Maybe I need a couple of them.  I could hang a head of cabbage but the last time I hung something it really freaked them out and they avoided it like the plague for days.  So I bought the big "Flock Block". 

 I've gotten the smaller forage cakes before but thought this would give them something to do for a longer period of time.  Of course they were scared of it at first.  Silly chickens.  Bonnie and Henrietta are the guinea pigs of the group or they just like being in the spotlight when I bring out the camera.

They decided to get closer....

and closer....

 Then Bonnie decides to be brave...

and then the others decided it's ok and they got for it also...

Amelia is the only one who still isn't sure that it's safe...

Finally she decides that maybe its not so bad...

Monday, May 21, 2012

...3 full weeks later....

I'm happy to report that we finally have peace in the land. Saturday I discovered Bunny spending most of the day down in the dirt mixing in with the rest of the chickens instead of living above them on her perch.  

It has been a full 3 weeks since we brought her home.  The wound on her neck has healed and some of the feathers are starting to grow back.  Most of them probably won't return until she goes through a molt this fall.  I brought out cantaloupe for them and she was allowed to eat right along with them.  Later I noticed that she was full of sand and dirt which meant she was taking a dust bath right along with the rest of them in their late afternoon spa session.

There is still a little squawking going on but it's mostly her.  She seems to get nervous when the others get to close and she's the one making noise and running around trying to get away while the rest of them seem to look at her with that "what's up with you" look.  Henrietta seems to like to bump her out of the nesting boxes and they squabble over one of the boxes even tho the other boxes are unoccupied.  She still is not sleeping with them at night but I'm sure that will happen soon.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


We still are working at introducing our new/old chicken.  We've named her Bunny.  She is a very sweet  chicken and loves being near me or on me.


 I am happy to report that despite being inside a barn stall all her life and not having the freedom to go outside in the sun or dirt that she has learned to go outside during the day and inside at dusk.  I've even caught her spending time alone in the run after all the others had gone to bed, giving herself a dust bath.  

She is also enjoying fresh grass and dandelions along with all the other fresh treats that come from the kitchen.  We are pretty sure she didn't get that at her old home.  She has been laying eggs on a regular basis so I'm sure she's not too stressed out.  The Blue Kote is working to heal her wound and the others haven't pecked at her neck for about a week now.

However she still is not part of the flock and maybe she'll never be totally accepted.  We've now determined that Patty is the leader of the pack.  We've never been able to determine the pecking order.  I think because they were raised together since chicks that it's very subtle.  When she is spotted on the floor in the coop Patty, Ruby or Amelia will go after her and land a hard peck on her back.



 She usually scurries into the cat carrier or goes up onto the roosting pole.  She tends to stay up high in the coop while the others are outside in the run.  She's been sleeping alone on top of the nesting boxes.  I've watched as she sits over there opposite from the others and sometimes it looks like she's mustering up the courage to jump over there and join them.  Maybe some day she will.  She does get alone time inside the coop twice a day to eat and drink.   If she is out in the run she is usually perched up on the roost.    We've put a waterer up there for her and place treats on the ledge when it's treat time. 

She still looks pretty scruffy, especially next to Bonnie.

 We even take her outside of the run and give her a few minutes in the grass.  

Which has prompted us to start a new project!
It will give us the opportunity to give the chickens a chance to be on the grass, eating the grass and bugs and give them a change of scenery.  It will also be a neutral place to help integrate Bunny into the flock.  Watch for upcoming posts.  Meanwhile picture it here...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Can't we all just get along?

Remember back in June when we sent 4 of our hens packing to a friends farm?  A few months ago, they brought in a couple more hens and 2 roosters in hopes of maybe incubating eggs and raising chicks.  Well 6 hens is not enough for 2 roosters plus they are kept in a large stall in the barn with no access to the outside world.   I believe those chickens are bored.  They need to be let outside and giving more room to roam. After a visit to the friend's farm this past Saturday, it was discovered that both roosters were fighting over one of the Buff's AND beating her up in process. They weren't doing this to the other hens.  She looked pretty ragged (especially next to our Bonnie) with a bald patch on her back and missing feathers behind her comb. 


 I reluctantly agreed to getting her out of there. We aren't set up to introduce a new bird to an existing flock which can be a very tricky process even when you are set up for it and follow the right steps.  I did some quick reading on the subject and discovered that the only thing that we had going for us is that she is exactly the same age as our chickens.  Unfortunately chickens have no recollection of their youth, let alone last week.  An existing flock has a well established pecking order and routine and adding even one stranger can upset this order and the pecking order has to be re-established.  They accomplish this by pecking and fighting.  NOT a pleasant process.  By the time my research was done she had already been plunked down in the run with the cat carrier door open. We stayed with her and kept watch over her and monitored the situation.  It wasn't going all that well but as long as she was able to get up away from our chickens she was ok and they left her alone.

 In the process, I discovered that she has a nasty gash on the back of her neck/head.  It's likely that she was cut by one of the rooster's talons when they were scuffling and she was getting caught up in it.  We certainly aren't set up to care for an injured bird.  That only made this process more difficult.  When chickens see blood and injury on another bird they are attracted to it and will continue to go after it. And go after it they do.  They have been re-injuring her neck and drawing blood.  So after a hearty snack for everyone...

We sprayed her with Blue-Kote which is an anti bacterial, purple colored spray that stains and hides the injury from the other birds.  It also has a bad flavor that deters the other birds from pecking.

and this is what happens when you don't wear gloves....I have been doing a lot of dishes lately....

That still didn't seem to be doing the trick so last night I made a turtleneck for her out of an old sock and a couple pieces of elastic to cover up the injury.  The elastic goes around her wings to hold it in place.

Except this morning it doesn't look like it's staying in place very well.  It slips down below the injury.

Meanwhile she is avoiding the other chickens to some degree by staying up high or in a nesting box or in the cat carrier but there are times she can't avoid them. We do give her alone time in the coop to eat and drink and have been putting her inside the coop in her carrier at night.  The act of going inside at dark is foreign to her because she was kept inside all the time.  Henrietta has been seen perched next to her outside so maybe she is very slowly making friends.  She is a VERY friendly chicken who is not afraid to literally jump up into your arms or sit for a long time on your lap and she's laying us and egg every day, which is a good sign.

It's been 4 days and we are hoping for the best and hoping that she'll be accepted or at least ignored and allowed to peacefully co-exist but if it doesn't work out we can try re-homing her to a different friend with turkeys who might not bother her or cull her and move forward.  This is no fun for me.  I'm not completely emotionally attached to the chickens and didn't get all that upset when Buffy died a couple weeks ago but I don't like to see an animal suffering.  I also was very happy with my happy peaceful flock and don't want it to change.  I knew all of these things were possible of happening when we started raising chickens and did do some minor reading on different subjects and banked simple solutions in my mind but I'm a "we'll cross that bridge when we get to it" kind of thinker, so I'm have this knot in my stomach now and I'm sort of at a loss for solutions anymore.  One hour at a time I guess.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

Goodbye Buffy :-(

Today started with the normal routine. 

Wake up. 
Eat breakfast.
Wake up the kids.
Let the chickens out.
Head out the door to school and work.
Come home for lunch at noon.
Check on the chickens and gather any eggs.
Go back to work.
Come home from work 3 hours later.
Visit the chickens and gather eggs.

But when I came home this afternoon I found Buffy laying in the run. I scooped her up.  She was still very warm.  She must have died moments before I came home.  The other girls were very talkative but not overly excited.  I took her inside the garage and laid her on the workbench and looked her over good.  There were no signs of injury and there had been no signs of sickness in her or the other chickens.  The run is still intact and there are no signs of any type of predator getting in.  She was fine last night, this morning and at lunch. I have no idea what happened and I never will.  I'm assuming that she just simply had a heart attack and died.  

Almost exactly 1 year old (she came in the mail with the other Buffs, Reds and Rocks on 4/21/11), she was our biggest bird and was very gentle and friendly.  When she was sitting on eggs she would chatter at me in a way that I took to mean "Don't take these eggs just yet".  Just last night I sat with them as they had a bedtime snack. I then watched as one by one they put themselves to bed on the roosting rail in their own way.  Watching Buffy was always comical.  She would jump up onto a lower rail and then up onto the nesting boxes on the opposite wall from the main rail and then jump across the width of the coop onto the rail landing with a thud.  If anyone else was already on the rail they had to hang on for dear life because that rail would really jiggle and sway when she landed on it.  Then she would get verbal scolding.

We are going to miss her.  At the same time I feel fortunate that in the 13 months that we've been keeping chickens that we haven't had more disasters.  RIP Buffy.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

3 Seasons in 2 weeks

It has been a weird mild winter here.  2 weeks ago we had only our second snowstorm of the season. (The last one was way back in the early part of December.)  We had about 7 inches dumped on us.  It stuck to EVERYTHING and  I loved the magical winter wonderland.  

 So did the kids...

It was a brief moment and with the help of a good rainy day, 4 days after the snow, it quickly turned to standing water and sloppy mud.  I don't like that and neither did the chickens.

all this water was moving right into the run and making it very sloppy...

 which made going outside no fun.  They all stayed inside for most of the day.

So I put down a fresh layer of sand

and they enjoyed being outside again.

 I cleaned out the coop and gave them fresh bedding which always sparks their curiosity and they spend a long time picking and scratching in the new wood shavings....

 and getting back to the business of laying eggs.  Georgia, Buffy and Penny don't seem to realize that there are enough boxes for everyone.

It really warmed up this week and yesterday the temperature climbed into the mid 70's.  Hello summer!!  So it was time to take the plastic off of the run. I left the west end of the run still covered...just in case we get some more cold NW winds whipping thru. They all got a little nervous when I started ripping off the plastic and stayed as far away as possible from the ruckus I was creating.

It seems strange to actually see them in the run again and I'm sure they are very happy to see out into the world again.

Meanwhile the yard is springing to life very early this year.