Friday, May 28, 2010

Chicken Chaos

I still have the 12 new refugees living in a pen on the west side of the house with my rooster, Pasha. Six other hens live on the east side underneath the porch with the newest rooster, Bart. During the day, the porch chickens have free range of the yard. Anywhere between 4 and 5 am, the two roosters start crowing on either side of me while I'm still trying to sleep. Earplugs have made it possible to sleep as late as 6am.

Bart is showing signs of becoming hostile to me. He hasn't fully attacked me yet but has taken a few swipes at me when he thinks I'm not looking. If he keeps this up, he and Pasha will have to trade places again. Too bad because they are otherwise content with the current living arrangements.

But these living arrangements are only temporary anyway because I plan on moving the newest refugees down to Frankencoop soon. Just waiting for the three baby chicks to get a little bit bigger. Plus, I have clean-up work to do at Frankencoop before I move more birds in. Lots of chicken shit to shovel out and spread on the gardens.

I also have to rearrange some stuff in a corner that made it all too easy for this freeloading visitor to hide. I suspect it's the reason why so many eggs were disappearing for almost a week.

Not poisonous but six feet of any kind of snake is the exact opposite of what you want to find in a nest when collecting eggs.

No one is more amazed than I am that I managed to get a head shot. But don't be too impressed. I put a lot more holes in the wall than in the snake.

At least the cats ate good. I chopped the snake up into six-inch sections which, to my surprise, looked very much like unsliced sushi rolls.

So, while all this craziness is going on, the last thing I need is injured chickens. But, sure enough, the universe can always be counted on to send me the last thing I need.

First, one of the older refugee chickens at Frankencoop lost use of her right leg. Have no idea what's wrong. Found her outside the coop, scooting around on the ground with her one good leg. For the last week she's been living on the porch while I wait and see if she gets better or I'm getting chicken curry. She seems to be able to put a little weight on it now so I'm still hopeful she'll pull through.

Then, this afternoon while bringing fresh water to Frankencoop, I found Mirabel hiding in the tall grass. Mirabel is one of the few big white refugee hens that has a name. I have trouble telling most of the white hens apart. Mirabel has a crooked toe (and a tendency to peck at my legs when she wants attention) that makes her easy to identify.

I initially thought she was laying an egg but closer inspection showed she had a little blood on her face. Even closer inspection showed she had a small puncture wound above her left eye. Really close inspection revealed her left eye is completely destroyed. The lid is intact but the eye is deflated. I don't know what happened. Maybe a run-in with one of the cats. So now she is on the porch too. Mixed a little crushed aspirin in with her water. Now I just wait and see.

But how long to wait? That's the murky question. When is it time to throw in the towel and take the hatchet down off the wall? I'd prefer the chickens to be alive and producing eggs - I'm sure they'd prefer it too - so if there's a chance they'll get better, I'll give them that chance. But I certainly don't want to unnecessarily prolong their pain. There comes a time when not only is the chicken unhappy but I'm spending too much effort on the care of a single chicken that would be better spent on other projects.

I'm far too soft to ever be a successful chicken farmer.

But lest you think it's all been bad news, I did make a new friend. A real live normal person who has recently moved to this neck of the backwoods. His name is Tom and he's a retired political science professor fresh off a two-year stint in Iraq with the State Department.

He grew up around here but moved away a long time ago. He's come back to an old piece of family property where he's living in an Airstream trailer until he builds his cabin. You can read all about his new rural Alabama life at his blog: Welch Super Service.

You have no idea how nice it was to hear someone start a sentence with "I was reading this article in The New Yorker..." Hell, it's just nice to know someone who reads.


siouxzun said...

OMG! Stimulating conversation without having to import a visitor? SWEET!!! Good golly do I miss you lady! Be warned that ANY trip to ANYWHERE in the lower 48 is considered close enough to you to drop by! mawahahah...
Oh and by the way...snake is people food too!

Anonymous said...

Hooray for friends!

And - nice shot, Jackie.