Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Harrowing Rescue of Miss Fluffybutt

So typically we don't name our birds out here on our little homestead. The ducks are ducks, the turkeys are turkeys or when they're not causing headaches - turkey lurkeys, etc. We do have a few hens though that for some reason or another have done something to earn a name.

This hen is one of the hens that's got a name. She's the last of the Miss Fluffybutts. The Fluffybutts are the name that Carla gave the Red Sex-Link hens since thier butts are well, fluffy like a pillow. This Miss Fluffybutt has a crooked toe on her right foot, so when we refer to her, it's always as Miss Crooked-Toe Fluffy Butt. These hens are incredibly docile, and have had the highest attrition rate of our birds on pasture. In fact, at the start of the week, there were two Mrs Fluffybutts, but then we got rid of our troublesome guard dog, Roux. That very night, the second Mrs Fluffybutt became a late night snack to this rascal.

Yeah, turns out that he likes chicken but he wasn't too keen on my 12 gauge. So knowing the problems this guy was causing (this is before I caught him), I went down after night fall to the pasture to check on hens. I had a headlamp on and was half way to the chicken coop in the middle of the field when I heard a loud, frantic Bock Bock Bock Bock behind me. I wheeled around and the last Miss Fluffybutt shot out from some bushes and in a clucking frenzy ran right to where I had stopped and cuddled up on my boot. I picked up a very grateful hen and placed her in the coop with the rest of the flocks - the coon was denied an easy snack and chose to dine in my trap instead. Miss Crooked Toe Fluffybutt lives to lay another day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

WooHoo for Rain

Today we finally got some rain! We've had about an inch here at the farm in the last two months, well below our average amounts. So today, with nearly two inches, I was ecstatic.

Carla's ducks chose to enjoy the rainstorms by napping in the precipitation. Of course that is in between splashing in the puddles in the driveway.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chickens as Chew Toys

So having solved the keeping Roux from eating eggs dilemma, we've now moved to the Roux using the chickens to teeth. She's not trying to kill the chickens, but she is hurting them. I've got a couple of hypothesis about this. First, she's treating the hens like they're part of her pack, which means chewing on each other. Second, the hens getting caught are the more docile birds (who are also my best layers) whom I'm thinking are ready to be bred. So when Roux walks by one of these hens and she does that promiscous "Let's get it on" squat that hens do, I'm thinking Roux's just using them as a opportune teething windfall.

Puppy teeth are sharp, and chicken skin is fragile. Not a good combo at all. Here's the first hen I found. If she looks wet, it's dog slobber.

So the main injury here is a puncture through her wing. Not a big deal at first glance, but this is summer, and it's really warm - and infection & fly problems are a given. I carried her up to the house from the pasture in a small wastebasket that was the perfect size so she didn't get hurt any further. Probably not what most people think of when they hear about a bucket of chicken.

So I disinfected all her wounds with peroxide and that blue antiseptic they use on cows. After 3 days of that, she's doing alright. The wing puncture has enlarged to a hole the size of a sweet pea, and has a good number of maggots in it. These fly larva only eat dead tissue, so believe it or not, I'm thinking they're actually probably helping as long as they're held in check, especially because the larvae are keeping the wound from sealing over and the wound is healing up clean. Hopefully, she'll still have use of her wing, because she needs to be able to fly to get up into the coop, onto the roosts, and into the nesting boxes. Luckily, poultry are pretty remarkable in thier ability to comeback from serious injuries and this young gal isn't giving up anytime soon.

Here's the hospital pen that she's in. She's got a roomate now, another hen that's keeping her company. She's doing well enough to start laying eggs again. Definately a good sign.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hauling Hay

This morning, the Spencer's feasted on a batch of blueberry pancakes and headed out to pick up some wheat straw. We use it as mulch in our veggie beds, and we buy it from a farmer over in Wedington who grows and bales it. He'd just baled a batch, and if you pick it up in the field, you save a 1.25 a bale.
So getting the straw was a family affair. Carla drove the truck from bale to bale and I just rode on the back of the trailer. Luckily, there were clouds out and a good breeze that kept us from burning up in fields. Simmey came along too and jumped at the chance to run around on flat land. He found the flatness much to his liking, since when he fell, he didn't roll 10 feet downhill.

On the way home, Carla and I indulged ourselves in some large 32oz Icees. It's like 2 lbs of popsicle - and that my friend simply rules.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Go Ahead & Try to Eat My Eggs Now Roux

So our nesting boxes used to be on the ground. Then our guard dog pups figured out that they could help themselves to an egg buffet. Even raising the nesting boxes a couple of feet off the ground didn't stop the pups who apparently are part squirrel. So yesterday I whipped up this solution. It seats two nesting boxes, enough for a lot of hens. Now the hens are about 4 feet off the ground. As a bonus, it gives the ladies a little bit of shade to hang out in during the hottest part of the day if they want to hang around the coop. I case you're wondering, we open the fencing up every day, and the hens roam free. Sometimes they roam all day, other times they all hang out at the coop; it's probably better that we don't know what's going on in thier tiny minds.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Death of a Puppy

So Bechamel, one of our little Pyrennes pups died sometime between last night and this morning. Carla didn't see him this morning, so when I got off work around 3 pm I went looking for our missing pup. I walked the creekbed that borders our pasture to get a different perspective. I saw Bechamel's white tail sticking out of a hole formed under an uprooted tree. Yesterday he was acting "funny" - droopy tail, not excited to see us, not drinking or eating, then 24 hrs later she was dead. He must have found a quiet hole to pass away. I'm wondering if it's Parvo?

We'll miss you little white egg-stealin Bechamel

Roux, his sister, is still kickin, and doing a good job barking at anything non-chicken that moves. As a precaution, I'm taking her to the vet tommorrow to get a check up. When I pry open my wallet for a vet, you know I'm pretty worried. I've got too much time in this 3 month old pup, and we've gotten to far with her to let her die too.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Catching Ben Perry's Chicken

Why am I halfway up a hickory tree in the middle of the night staring at a rooster?
Ben Perry knows, and I did it for him. Good luck in Law School Ben, I'm gonna miss working with you.