News from the coop
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Beth and the Girls on Q13 Fox for the second time.
The trouble with Astro…
…Started in January, after a day of freeranging. We found her puffed up and lethargic in the corner of the coop.
I started to run a basic diagnostic and tipped her over to check her vent. All clear. But while she was upside-down, she puked on me. Not just chicken puke. Nasty, sour, stinky fowl vomit.
According to the user forum of backyardchickens.com, Astro had sour crop, a condidtion in which her crop – the pouch on the side of a chicken’s neck that helps them grind and process food – was impacted and the food bits stuck inside were starting to ferment.
The vet at Seattle Bird & Exoctic clinic confirmed the diagnosis with a few expensive tests and flushings and ultimately treated it with antibiotics.
That was the first of many trips to the vet. Astro is a bunk chicken and in the last few months, she had another impacted crop, suffered a bacterial infection and was egg bound. The latter from a chicken who we had no proof had actually laid an egg. She developed a taste for them though. She would wait for another one of the girls to make an announcement of her morning’s accomplishment, then promptly march up to the hen house to sample.
Our patience with Astro –and our willingness to make any more trips to the vet – wore thin recently. She moved on to a new home. It’s a “closed adoption” so we don’t know how’s she doing. We can bet she didn’t become a real chicken burrito.
We just had a much anticipated event at the Lindsay house, we received a very special treat from the girls. They have been doing one and two eggs regularly, but they finally got together worked it all out, synchronized their feathers and pulled off what I am sure was a real team effort.
Thursday the 8th was the first day that all three ladies donated an egg to the kitchen. To top it off, there was a bonus treat too. The two lighter colored eggs are about normal size, but the darker brown one is from the new girl Scarlett and was ginormous. It contained two yolks and so far it has been her second double yolk egg. Way to go Scarlett!
Here she is, the new girl, 20 weeks old and only $20. She should be ready to start laying eggs in 4 weeks. Scarlett, because she is a red star, AKA a golden sex-link.
She will spend 3 weeks in a sectioned off area below the coop so the rest of the flock can get used to her and then in to the fold she goes. It will be rough, but they will work out the pecking order eventually.
This is the weirdest shapped egg ever. So…I don’t know what happened here, but I swear we didn’t put the chicken in to a corsett for a week.
Pretty sure this was Donna, but without a nest cam, it is hard to know for sure.
It’s all fun and games…
Until someone gets their eye poked and has to go to the emergency room.
There’s a motion-activated video camera in the coop — we call it in the hen cam — that the girls sometimes peck at. It had fallen down after said pecking and Craig was out reinstalling it when Astro snuck up from behind and poked him right in the eye.
When he came back into the house with that story, I told him to suck it up and get to work.
Later in the day he called and asked me to pick up an eye patch for him. Then he went to the emergency room.
It turns out it was a little worse than I thought. But hey, he can still see!
We were a little late to the chicken party when we got our babies in July. It turns out, the right time to get them is early spring so they can move outside once the weather warms up and they begin to lay while days are longest.
After calling every feedstore within 50 miles, we finally found one that still carried a decent selection of chicks. On July 11, we went up to Monroe Farm & Feed and picked out our three girls.
A week old, they spent all of the rest of July in the downstairs bathtub. Seattleites will recall we had a heat struck at the end of that month, so the chicks moved out a little earlier than under normal circumstances (and I think our housecleaners were very happy for that event).
Our chicks ate and pooped and grew and pecked and did all the things little chickies do, except for lay eggs. They were going to reach “maturity” in the middle of winter, right around the shortest day of the year. We were afraid that the lack of light might mean their lay day would be delayed, so we gave them some help. Craig found a low watt bulb and installed in in a reflector inside the coop. At first, we figured we’d extend their day by a few hours in the morning and a few hours at night.
During a cold spell in December, we left the light on all through the night, hoping it would also provide some warmth. It turns out, we were doing the equivalent to Chicken Guantanamo. We’d peek outside before bed and find the chickens wandering around their house, wide awake. They didn’t appear to be sleeping at all. It was torture! We were keeping them awake all night and they’d stumble around all day. This went on for days before we figured it out and turned out the light, figuring they could brave the cold in the dark. But think of the secrets we could have extracted from them!
I recently got a library card after a 20 year lapse. I’m not sure why I waited so long. The library is right up my alley: free, full of interesting material and close to home.
My first selections included:
Home to Roost: a backyard farmer chases chickens through the ages
Raising Chickens for Dummies
The Egg and I
The Joys of Keeping Chickens: the ultimate guide to raising poultry for fun and profit
I went a little crazy on the paid media, too, and started subscriptions to “Chickens” and “Urban Farm” magazines.
Now there’s plenty of reading to get me through the winter. I promise to stop spouting chicken facts soon.
I’ve finally resurfaced from general election madness to attend the wedding of our dear friends. They’re getting hitched in Tucson, one of the cities where they met when they were long distance dating.
We had some time to poke around yesterday and found ourselves at the local food co-op. I think I have a homing device for them.
We were reserving judgment for Tucson until we saw this advertisement. Then we knew why our friends loved this little city.
I’m just back from the second night of a Bob Dylan show, a birthday surprise from my sister. The second song they played was a crazy version of “Lay Lady Lay,” much different than this 1976 bootleg version where Dylan almost sings harmony.
This one’s for my girls in the coop.