Friday, June 28, 2013

It's HOT!!!

I know I'll take some ribbing for this post from fans in Texas and the south where it's much hotter.  But temperature is relative.  And when your feathered friends are used to low 70's with cool bay breezes, and then you suddenly jump 25 degrees up into the mid 90's, it's HOT!

Was only supposed to get up to 90 today but my thermometer clearly says it's warmer than that.

Something really stuck with me when I was reading about how to raise chickens, and that was whatever you do to help keep your hens cool, you must commit to it!  Meaning, if you are going to put ice in their water when it gets above 80 degrees, then you needs to commit to ALWAYS putting ice in their water when it gets above 80 degrees.  I thought this was good advice.

Chickens don't sweat.  They pant and hold their wings open to help cool themselves off.
Books and blogs offered great ideas for helping to keep your hens cool.  Offering up cool treats is always appreciated.  Especially, watery treats such as watermelon and cucumber as that will not only help cool them down but also get some extra moisture into their systems.  A mister can help bring the temperature down dramatically in one area and give the hens a cool place to lay down.  Putting ice in their water is a no brainer.  And some even put out a large block of ice or frozen gallon of water for the hens to lay up against.

I did invest in a cheep drugstore fan for the girls.  I have it up off the ground and clipped to the gate so they can't injure themselves on it.  And it's angled to blow right under their house where it's coolest. 
I saw such a quick improvement in their disposition after a half hour w/ the fan on that I went and found our holiday light timer and put the fan on a timer so it will automatically come on at noon and go off around 7pm over the next 5 days of this heat.
Here are the hens hiding under their house.  Too bad you can't see their feathers ruffling in the fan breeze.  They were terrified of the fan at first and all went and stood in the sun.  I coaxed them back under the house with some oatmeal.
Poor Coco has to lay an egg.  I opened up all the doors too the coop and she's getting a bit of the fan breeze to help keep her cool.  One of the Andalusians, laid her egg out in the run this morning and they ate it.  Grrrrr....  Let's hope that was just a mistake in judgement from the heat and not a pattern of bad behavior I'm going to need to address. 
 The good news is that the temperature should cool off into the low 60's at night giving them a break from the heat and a relatively cool morning before the sun can warm things back up.

Monday, June 24, 2013

It's only a matter of time

Coco is giving my NO Chicken sign the stink eye.
We re-landscaped earlier this year.  Nothing fancy.  Basically, replaced the original 60 year old slab cement patio with pavers, updated the irrigation system and had some raised planter boxes put in.  Where we live, clay cement abounds.  And I mean CLAY.  You could take a shovel full of dirt, form it, fire it and use it as stoneware.  But I digress.

As with any project, once you start, you get ideas on how it could be better.  Last year, I didn't get any tomatoes that grew under 2 1/2 feet.  The chickens got all of them.  Which worked out okay.  But this year, I planted a few blueberries and blackberries and I really don't want to share.

So I asked the landscaper if he could put up a small fence dividing my flower garden from the veggies.  It's worked out perfect.  I even put up the NO chickens sign to show the hens that they were not allowed into my veggie garden.

But a few times, I've gone into the veggie garden and come out with blueberries or tomatoes and Coco is right there at the gate waiting to see if I have treats.  And how can I say no to her.  So I'll offer up a morsel or two.  Well, she's on to me.  She KNOWS that the other side of that gate is Shangri La.  She's been spending more and more time in front of the gate peering through at what grows behind.

She's a BIG bird and flying up and over 4' would be a challenge.  But it's not out of the question.  I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't have gone 5' on the fence.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why don't books tell you this?

I'm so frustrated this week.

You read my previous post on Ginger and her bumble foot.  Making sure she gets her medicine and her dressing changed, well, it's just one more thing to deal with each day.  And the medicine has really upset her digestive system.  She's had a bath twice this week and is in need of yet another.  I'm going to hold out 48 hours and see if we can get her system back to normal first.

Yesterday, I came home to find Lulu Lemon limping.  Lulu is my wild child who will not let me get near her.  She doesn't want to be held or touched and only occasionally will eat out of my hands.  When she let me pick her up with little more than a squawk, I knew something was very wrong.  The poor thing was covered in blood and realized that she had lost a toe nail.  The WHOLE nail.  What you see there is just a tad of the top of the nail and the quick, the insides of her nail which is one big nerve.

I have no idea how this happened.  She has very sharp, pointy toe nails and she clearly got it caught on something in the run and pulled it out.  But what?  I've gone over that whole run and can't find any sign of blood except on her 2x4 perch where she clearly sat after the accident.

I feel awful for her as it must hurt something awful.  But I hesitate to wrap it up as I'll never catch her to remove or change the dressing.  I probably should have given her some pain meds.  But again, if I can't get her to come near me to do this consistently, then what is the point?

I did keep her isolated in the dog crate last night just to keep her calm but I think I just frightened her something awful.  So I put her back out with the other hens this morning.  She's still limping but doing MUCH better tonight.  Thankfully!

Here's what Lulu Lemon looks like she's not under the weather.  She's a beautiful bird.
And to top off my week, Honey Bear went broody AGAIN!  I always feel bad keeping her in a dog create in the garage to break her so this time I put her in the lower portion of my spare coop.  Well, what I didn't realize is that she paced back and forth, rubbing her beak along the hardwire cloth and rubbed a big divot in the top of her beak.  I cleaned it up and it looks okay.  But now I'm worried about the structural integrity of her beak and I'm wondering if I should put a patch over it so she doesn't crack her beak.

I read multiple books and did all kinds of research before I committed to getting chickens.  None of the books prepared me for all the things that can go wrong with a chicken.  They mostly cover all the diseases they can contract.  Fortunately, those have not been an issue for me.

But I'm truly exhausted from this week.  I'm eager for the weekend to arrive so we can get everyone cleaned up and get back to scratching in the garden for bugs and the other things that chickens should be doing.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

One of THOSE mornings...

In general, my girls are quiet in the mornings.  But if the neighbor's cat or a hawk is present, that will get them squawking.  I can usually get them to quiet right down if I scoot out there and shoo away the danger.

Today is Saturday and it was a VERY long week for me.  I was desperate for some peace and quiet so I could just sleep in till 7am without interruption.  And my girls obliged.  But only with being quiet.  They were wreaking havoc out there.

When I finally go out to do my morning chores, I find that Lulu Lemon has slept under big Coco, and she's a mess.  I mean a hot mess.  She's tried to dust bath or something to get it off of her but she's covered in cecal poo all over one side of her.   And Lulu is my one hen who does not want to be touched or held.  I've been dreading this day.

Somehow I think she knew that she had a problem and that I am their problem solver.  So believe it or not, she let me pick her up.  She did fuss and squirm but let me give her a quick bath and blow dry.  And while she's not spotless, she's mostly clean.

Next issue, Ginger.  Ginger had the beginning of Bumblefoot for a while now.  Honey had the same thing and the vet gave me some topical medicine which successfully treated Honey.  But Ginger was responding more slowly.  And earlier this week, I noticed it was getting a bit red and a tad swollen.  Not a good sign.

Here you can see that after a good long soaking, I was able to get the scab off.  And we don't see a kernal or anything else that needs to be removed so the vet opted to just leave it be.  I know her foot looks swollen here but it really isn't.  Well, maybe a tad.  But just a little red and irritated.

And here she is after I cleaned up her foot again and put more antibacterial ointment on it.  The wrap is to help keep it both padded and clean.

And here's her foot all clean and wrapped.  She walks and even scratches just fine with the wrap.  She can roost just fine too.  She will nibble at it for a minute or two after I wrap it.  But so far, she's not been able to open it up. 
This is Ginger's antibiotic pill.  It's quite large.

So I cut it up into quarters.

Split raisons open and slip in the quarters.  She gobbles these up like they were candy.  Easiest way in the world to give a chicken pills.

Scrambled or hardboiled egg is surprisingly absorbant.  Here I've mixed in Ginger's pain and anti-inflamatory meds which come in liquid form so I can give her just the right amount based on her weight.

And Honey is broody AGAIN!!!  Her third time in 8 weeks.  I'm really hoping this is just a Spring Thing and that we're not going to have to put her in broody time out every 3-4 weeks.  I know people say to put broodies in a wire bottom cage but I have just as good luck keeping her out of the nest box so I prefer this method so she can be in with her sisters.  The alternative is to put her in a dog crate in the garage but the garage can get warm this time of the year so I'd prefer to keep her outdoors.

So that was my drama today.  Here's hoping for a nice quiet day tomorrow.