What to do, what to do?

I write here today in a large amount of stress. I’ve noticed about myself that I tend to take a small symptom from my chickens and morph it into a disaster requiring immediate medical attention. Now I can’t tell if my flock has potential issues, or if it is all in my head. I know I have a few chicken-keeping readers, so I address you now- if you have any advice/experience in the following matter, I would love to hear it. It would ease my stress tremendously to hear another chicken keeper’s opinion.

So here is the deal.

For a while now, Cora has been having a messy bottom. Its been happening for a few months- I clean it, it gets a little messy, life goes on. There aren’t any sores or raw spots, just some (for lack of better term) crappy feathers.

Recently I noticed Mabel’s bottom isn’t all that great either, though not nearly as messy as Cora’s. Tonight I checked Edith’s vent, and the same thing, dried excrement stuck to feathers.

For the past two weeks, Cora’s eggs have been messed up. They have gotten chalky and pale, or even shell-less. The other two hen’s eggs are completely normal. They have constant access to calcium

Mary has been fighting Scaly Leg Mites for the past month or so, and her feet are improving a little bit each day

This week I noticed Edith has a developing bald spot by his comb, which prompted this frenzy about parasites.

Its a mystery to me. I have no idea what to do! The procedure for mites is as follows: buy poultry dust or other harsh medication, apply to chickens and entire coop, clean out coop, repeat in 7 days. Its a hassle, and stressful for the chickens. What to do??

chikWho would have thought that a bit of missing feathers could cause all this anxiety…

A Walk Through the Garden

A walk through the garden shows me that spring is finally here. After this long, harsh, awful winter, I could not be more excited! I have to look carefully at the soil to see the newly forming life, and it is beautiful.

This is the beginning of a large spearmint plant- small shoots are emerging randomly throughout the herb garden.

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These green shoots are the rebirth of my lovely chive plant, which has been gracing my garden since I started a few years ago. Purple flowers will begin forming soon, and the stalks will grow extremely tall.

Photo Apr 18, 6 34 02 PM

Do you see the red growth underneath the old stems? That is my echinacea plant. It produces beautiful magenta cone-shaped flowers in the late summer. Not only is it ornamental, it is also said to boost your immune system. Apparently when the flowers are steeped in hot water for around thirty minutes, it is an effective precaution against colds. I’m not sure if that has any truth to it, but it does taste alright when steeped with mint and honey!
Photo Apr 18, 6 34 20 PM

This is lemon thyme- a wonderfully fragrant and tasty herb. I purchased the original plant from the farmer’s market, and it has been returning every year since, with more growth each time!
Photo Apr 18, 6 34 29 PMThe chicken manure certainly gave my garden soil a boost! I mixed some into the dirt last fall, and covered it with a layer of straw over the winter. I uncovered it yesterday, and found a nice layer of compost.

Photo Apr 18, 6 35 02 PMPhoto Apr 18, 6 36 19 PM

Photo Apr 18, 6 33 24 PM

In addition to the outdoor growth, the tomato seeds I started last week have sprouted! I had almost given up hope, until I looked under the thin layer of “germination paper” to find these lovely little seedlings. They are my last chance at tomatoes this year, since I didn’t plan ahead, and as a result am no longer in possession of seeds. I put them under a fluorescent light in the basement, with a heating pad underneath. With some luck, water, and warmth hopefully they will thrive.
post 2Enough about plants- It’s time for a chicken update. I am led to believe that Mary has yet another health problem. Scaly leg mites…

These little fellows burrow into a chickens’ leg scales, causing them to rise, as seen below on Mary’s toes. Apparently it is rather painful, and can cause deformity if not treated in an appropriate manner.  The only way to get rid of these mites is by smothering them. And since they are spread through contact, and Mary lives with three other chickens, I’ll have to treat each one. These buggers have to go, so here is the plan.

  1. Dip their feet in warm, soapy water, while gently massaging their feet with an old toothbrush
  2. Dry off their feet with a soft towel by gently dabbing
  3. Dip their feet in vegetable oil for tenish seconds
  4. Dab their feet dry again
  5. Cover their feet with Vaseline
  6. Reapply Vaseline several times per week until healed
  7. Completely clean out coop again 😦

Its going to be gross, and very messy. But it has to be done! I just hope the people on BYC (backyard chickens.com) actually know what they are talking about. I don’t want to go through all this trouble for no reason

 Photo Apr 17, 6 36 28 PM        Lately I’ve been letting the chickens out for twenty minutes before their bedtime. I open up the door and stand by with a container of scratch in case they wander farther away than I’d like. Mabel always lurks on the perimeter, careful to stay away from me, while Mary is right by my side. Cora follows Edith everywhere he goes, which is usually near me. I always make them go inside before it gets too dark, which is quite a production.

Now that they know of the world outside their run, all they want to do is free range. If I open the door to walk in, they will rush at me in an effort to escape. Because of this, my father has set up a moveable wire fence around their run. This will give them some extra room, as I am not always able to let them roam. There are far too many hawks and dogs for that!

Photo Apr 07, 5 22 09 PMPhoto Apr 07, 5 21 52 PM

It is quite a dreary day out here, which marks a discouraging start to my spring vacation. My birthday is coming up- it takes place on Earth Day, which is fitting considering my attitude towards the environment. My parents have been pestering me over what I want for presents, and I have been at a loss. I told them that nothing could ever beat last year’s gift of five baby chicks, and the adventures that have followed.

I smiled at them, and said “unless you plan on getting me more…?” to which they responded with a firm “No”. Oh well, at least I tried 🙂