How quickly things change. A couple days after writing that last post, I was feeling pretty happy in our adventures in keeping chickens. Their coop has been much improved since last year with a new roof and coat of paint, we seemed to be doing a better job with the deep litter method and all then hens appeared happy and laying. We had even come through the few VERY cold days (-20 F anyone?!) after the new year and temps were beginning to warm up.
So imagine my surprise, when Joe and I opened the coop up on a sunny Sunday morning to find our rooster, Pru, a little out of sorts. He’d been getting bits of frostbite on his comb/waddles from the cold but we’d been occasionally putting Bag Balm on to try and help curb it. But this morning, we took one look at his waddles which were massively swollen and knew something was very, very wrong. I said to Joe, “This can’t be normal! He looks like the elephant man!” so we immediately brought him indoors and set him up in a crate in our basement to warm up.
Long story short, his condition went from bad to worse. The swelling hadn’t really improved, he was just sleeping on his face the whole time and was very off balance and not able to stand up. We were attempting to spoon feed him anything he would take every few hours (mushed up food mixed with water, yogurt, water) but he wasn’t really taking much in. By Monday, his breathing was labored, his ears were almost purple and SO swollen they looked like they might pop, and he was barely opening his eyes. Obviously rest wasn’t doing the trick and this was becoming a matter of life and death for him so I called our (dog) vet to see if they had any ideas for us.
As it turns out, there is an avian vet in the office and he would be in on Tuesday so we dropped Pru off first thing in the morning and waited for our appointment later that afternoon. With some antibiotics, steroids and about a 5 second tutorial on how to IV hydrate and tube feed a chicken we brought Pru home later Tuesday afternoon. Joe and I had a big learning curve on taking care of a sick bird and forcing food and water into him (I was so nervous about putting the tube down the wrong way!), but we managed it in the end. His condition did finally begin to improve after a couple of days of care and when I heard him attempting a stifled crow one afternoon, things were looking up. I’ve never been so happy to hear that sound (though I always enjoy the sound of crowing regardless).
So our little guy has made a great recovery in the couple weeks since all this drama unfurled and we’re sure he’s looking forward to getting out of the basement and back with his ladies. If only this polar vortex would shift away and spring arrive!
I guess the lesson here is never to get too comfortable, the next challenge is just around the corner!
Life is full of lessons learned- some good and some not so good. Some lessons help you to move forward, change direction or stop you in your tracks and re-evaluate why you are doing something. One lesson I’ve learned about myself is that I’m pretty crap with this blogging business – inconsistent with my writing (hello random post a year ago!), terrified of a blank page and generally not sure why I’m doing this in the first place.
Looking back as to why I created this website, I wanted to document all the fun events and changes that are happening at this point in life for personal reasons. Lord knows I’m not organized enough to keep a written diary (after dozens of abandoned attempts!). And although I have not followed through with writing about all the changes that have taken place these last couple years, the changes they are a-happening! I’ve really enjoyed looking back over the meager entries I’ve written in the past and realized how much has changed since then. So I’m freshly inspired to really dedicate more of an effort to this online journal.
There have been several new additions to the homestead over the years that I haven’t written about – new chickens, new hive a bees, a husband, our dog Rosey and most recently (as in yesterday!!) an adopted rooster. Since the intention of this space is to chronicle our day-to-day adventures (and no one aside from my husband knows of the website’s existence- Hi Joe!), I think over the next few posts I’ll provide some introductions of the critters and places of the NOBO homestead. After all, where have my manners been?
In the meantime, enjoy a photo of our stunning new rooster Pru (or Bradley Cooper as he’s more affectionately called). This is our first time with a rooster so it is sure to be an adventure indeed!
Nope, no roosters yet thankfully! I got a little surprise this morning as I was doing my morning chicken chores of feeding and watering the girls. When I open up the hatch/floor of the coop in the mornings to let the girls out, we have gotten into a bit of a routine lately. Immediately as the door opens, Reno Raines is sitting there on the edge and hops out onto the ground, followed a few seconds later by Bobby Sixkiller who bombs out of there like her life depended on it and likes to land on top of Reno Raines for a bit of fun. Then several minutes later Little Sister makes her way down in her own sweet time.
Well I’ve noticed the last few days Reno Raines seems to be having a change of voice- she is making more clucking noises than the ‘peeping’ noises that baby chicks make (which they have all pretty much still been doing). Well this morning, as Bobby Sixkiller barreled out of the hen house and landed on top of her, she made a very loud ‘buck-BUUCCCK’ sound. The kind of sound you’d imagine chickens would make, it just caught me off gaurd. Hoping that this is a sign she is growing to be a lovely young lady-layer and not going through some sort of male puberty voice-changing phase.. hmmm..
It’s occurred to me that I’ve never properly introduced my lovely ladies. If you were wondering about their strange names, we chose them as a theme and it all has to do with an awesomely bad (so bad, it’s hilarious!) TV show from the 90s that my brother and I randomly came across while road tripping across the US a few years back. (any show who’s opening credits include a topless man pouring a gallon of water over his hair while leaning up against his motorcycle is bound to be a classic – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103524/) LJ has been the only person I’ve met who actually remembers this show being on the air. In any case, I’m not sure why they were the inspiration for our chicken names, but there you go..
First up we’ve got Reno Raines (aka Renegade), our Golden Laced Wyandotte, who was very bold as a chick and even though she’s chilled out a lot, will still be the first one to timidly try out some new food or toy I give to them. Bobby Sixkiller, our Rhode Island Red, will hopefully be a great layer one day. Her comb may be a little crocked and she shakes her head a lot, but she’s a feisty young thing who was always timid but I think is finally coming into her own. And last (but certainly not least) is Little Sister (aka Cheyenne), our Dark Brahma, who is the biggest of the bunch. She’s got lovely feathery feet and loves nothing more than to sit in your arms and have a good cuddle. She also ducks her body and runs back and forth along the run (out of excitement?) to greet you when you come out. A real sweetie, but a sweetie that can hold her own with the others. Well, there you have it- those are our girls!
Holy crap… I swear these chickens must be on steroids. I can’t get over how they seem to get bigger every day. Granted they are all large breeds, but I have a feeling I might end up with giganto-chickens!
Hope that everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend! It was a wonderful weekend here, full of a bit of everything. LJ came into town for a flying visit (literally just a few days) so it was great to spend time with him and my parents threw an engagement party for us at their house. It was a lovely, laid back, BBQ style event and just so great to celebrate this exciting moment of our lives with family and friends!
Oh and the excitement doesn’t end there, we’ve had a fox visit the house two days in a row (no doubt checking out our chickens) and he’s run away pretty quickly when we go out after him but I just worry about when no one is around at home to chase him off. The coop/run is very sturdy, so I’m not worried about that, but it does have an open floor (so the chickens can scratch and eat the grass) so I’m just hoping he doesn’t manage to dig his way underneath. Will have to think up some new defenses…
Aside from that LJ and I kept very busy this weekend taking care of little projects around the house. Well lots of little projects and one large one I guess- we painted the entire backside of the house, which took a good 2 days to accomplish. But it wasn’t all work, we also took time to enjoy our new space that we will call home together shortly. We took a dunk in the river behind our house, sat out back and drank some champagne to celebrate and plot future dreams, and explored the nearby town center that we will come to know well in the coming years. It was a truly a whirlwind, but wonderful, weekend!
So the girls have been doing very well! I’ve gradually been keeping them outside during the day and last night they had their first night outdoors (well, in their henhouse that is) and were doing splendidly when I checked in on them this morning. I lowered down their floor to give them access to their run, and ran inside myself to get ready for work. I glanced out the window at one point to see if they had made it down okay (some days they make it down quickly, and others not so much. They still haven’t worked out how to go back up to their ‘house’ at night. They’ll get there though) and I saw a little movement in the corner so figured they’d made it down no problem.
Just before leaving for work, I went out back to look at them. And found no chickens below… and at the same instant saw a chipmunk dart away. Upon further investigation all 3 girls were huddling together in the nesting box (no doubt hiding from the intruder) and the chipmunk has slipped under the wood at an uneven spot in the ground and had gone to town on their food (can you blame him though? I should have thought of that before). So I gave my ladies (still hoping!) a little help down into the run and they were off and enjoying themselves after that. I think it’s time to move the chicken tractor to a some more level ground…
It’s coming along! I’ve been working at it quite a lot this past week and my dad has been a huge help to me helping me decipher directions, lending me tools, shopping for materials and working on the project right there with me! I am a lucky daughter indeed. I’m very much hoping to have the chicken tractor finished up before the end of the week so that the girls (hoping girls… still not completely convinced my golden laced Wyandotte isn’t a roo…) can start enjoying the great outdoors since the weather has been so nice! I can tell you one thing, I’ve become much more comfortable over these last couple months using power tools than I ever thought I would be!