See you September 2nd. Enjoy what’s left of summer.
When I finally get some time, you’ll get to hear about the inspiration behind this picture. Stay tuned.
Well, a sick kid and work ramping up has conspired against tales of chickenry. However, this photo should prove there is plenty to talk about. Perhaps next week. Enjoy the crushing heat wave.
It looks like I took an unintended vacation this week. I’m still a little wiped out from classes (one of which just ended this week). To tide you over, here’s a few of the chickens practicing some good dirt hygiene. That’s Steve and John, plus a cameo by a Mandrell Sister.
Well, I was working on an animation for two weeks straight, and while I’m done, I didn’t finish in time to do a podcast for this week. But I’m now in the clear! Until my next class starts.
In the meantime, behold the egg shaped like a creamer potato. This was in the nesting bucket last night. Not sure who’s responsible, or what they’re up to, but it sure was a surprise.
In the last week I had to direct two scenes, one of which I videotaped, and am currently editing, and write a paper. This was all for one class. My other class’ work was all due today, and I just handed it in. Oh, and I work full time. Suffice to say, I was too busy to talk chicken. However, to give you an example of the amount of work involved in my video, here’s a small sample of what I’ve been doing. I have to draw each frame individually, and it takes about an hour to cover not quite a minute of footage. It may be another long weekend, but look at the results!
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and mite infestations are nothing if not desperate times. I was powdering the poultry with the poultry powder, and I was protecting them with the Poultry Protector, and I did not see any progress. I may even have seen things get worse, but it’s always hard to tell once the mite ball gets rolling. And so, I returned to the internet to watch people fight, and to try to glean some helpful information out of what I witnessed.
There seemed to be more options for mite control out there than when I last looked, or maybe it was just that the current situation had Steve (or John) losing feathers all up her back, which really worried me, and so I read more before I collapsed in an exhausted heap. I was very close to using dog and cat flea drops on them and then just throwing out the eggs for weeks afterwards, as horrible as that would make me feel. It seems so wasteful to just chuck eggs, but you don’t want to eat them if they’re toxic, and I obviously was ready for the big guns. Then I stumbled across a thread that pointed out how odd it was that no one was talking about the product they had come to use. Then they linked to a study showing that it was effective against mites, and that you could eat the eggs after using it. You just spray it on, and since it’s just topical, it doesn’t affect their egg system (though the flea stuff is topical too, but perhaps chickens are more absorbent in that case). And to make it easier, the person who started the thread explained the ratio of water to poison (yes, it’s still a poison) to use, so you didn’t have to use the complicated math in the scientific study. This was a dream come true, even if this explanation of it sounds like I fell for someone’s paid endorsement.
The chemical is called Spinosad, and apparently it’s the by-product of some type of fermentation. This may or may not make it organic, and since what you buy in the store may actually be created synthetically instead of through the normal fermentation method, an argument about organicness broke out. I wasn’t so worried about what was organic or not at this point, I just wanted healthy chickens. So I bought one of the bottles of concentrate that contains this stuff, (there are a few different products by different brands) and mixed up a dose.
In spite of the fact that there’s a study about the effectiveness of this stuff on poultry mites, and that the company that holds the patent on this chemical says it’s cool for chickens, this is apparently still an “off label” treatment, unless maybe you buy the industrial vat of the pure stuff direct from the manufacturer. The concentrate I bought was for plants only, but the guru of it on the internet said this was good, and others backed up the claim, so I went in a-spraying. The chickens ran to the corner and tried to hide, but I got them all in their problem areas. Then I waited a week, and went in again. I even went in a third time a week after that. I’m not 100% sure, but it looked a lot like Steve (or John) was starting to grow back some feathers. This was a good sign.
The issue I’m now running into is that chickens are waterproof. So you can spray them in the area where the feathers have been cleared out, but not anywhere else. In some cases, it looks like the mites have migrated to the waterproof areas, and begun defoliation. So I’ve sprayed those areas too. The other issue is that the way this stuff apparently works is to jump-start the mites’ metabolisms, so they basically work themselves to death. In some cases, the de-feathering got worse before it got better, since the mites got some last bits of feather eating in before their passing. I’m keeping an eye on things, but for now, this seems to be something that mites have yet to develop resistance to. Variety is not only the spice of life, it can also be the death of mites.
(CREDITS: Theme music: Chicken In The Barnyard by Fireproof Babies, Music Bed: Medley of Country Dances by Jaudas Society Orchestra)
I was a little behind the 8 Ball due to classes, and then given the way this week has played out in this country, I don’t feel right about posting silly things about chickens right now. While we could all probably use a laugh, I think we have more important things to think about at the moment. I’ll see how next week goes, and post accordingly. In the meantime, I saw someone post this quote this morning, and I’m hoping Anne was onto something.
My two summer classes are in full swing, and as a result, there is no podcast this week. I have stories to tell, but no time to tell them. I intend to remedy this over the long weekend, and by the power of Boss Chicken, I should have excitement for you next week. In the meantime, enjoy the fireworks (if you are somewhere that has them).
If you come here regularly, you know that I was out of town for a week recently. This is the longest I have gone away since I got chickens (and, come to think of it, the longest I have gone away for much longer than that). I’ve gotten used to being o.k. with leaving the chickens in the hands of someone else for a weekend, or even a long weekend. It took some work getting there, but I did it. I can be a bit of a control freak, and since the chickens are my pets, I worry. For a long weekend, I know I can fill up the feeder, and they’re good until I get back. Basically, all someone needs to do is fill their waterer and cover their poops. They can go without their morning yogurt for two days (I usually leave them some on the Friday morning we leave), and so while I realize they’re not getting doted on the way they’re used to, it’s a short blip in the history of the universe and they’ll get through it.
Going away for a week, now that’s something else. Food will need to be replenished. Yogurt will need to be offered, lest vent gleet sneak one past the goalie. For that same reason, I feel it’s necessary to request apple cider vinegar in their water. Missing two days of that is acceptable, if barely. A week seems like asking for trouble. I’ve constructed the coop in such a way that the food and water fits under it nicely. The food hangs from a hook, the waterer sits on some bricks, so it’s level. However, the feeder is heavy when full, and you have to use a long pole with a hook on the end to get it hanging again after you fill it. I have a hard time with this, and I’ve been doing it for years. The water is somewhat easier, but I realize that I have long monkey arms, which make it easier for me to reach under there and get the water on the bricks. Other people who have cared for the chickens in the past have been unable or unwilling (or just forgot) to do this. The rest of the ground isn’t very flat, and the chickens are ding dongs, and they’ll knock it over if it’s anywhere else. So then I worry that they won’t get enough water in the summer heat. It’s probably not rational, but this is how my mind works.
I wrote up a list of the things I do for the chickens for my wife, so she would know exactly what to do while I was gone. It didn’t seem like too much, but it did start to worry me about asking a lot, since she would also have to take care of the cats and be a solo parent during this time as well. So then I completely shuffled the order in which things can be done to make it easier. Morning now only required a water check, and food for Boss Chicken (who is 1000x easier to feed than the flock, since she’s in a rabbit hutch). After work was now when most of what I do at 5am can get done. Chips on the poops, some scratch, yogurt, collect the eggs. Get it all done as soon as you get home, then all that’s left is to refill the waterer after the birds have gone to sleep. Refill the waterer after dark, and add some apple cider vinegar to it. And then put it on the bricks, or then you have to recheck it in the morning to make sure all the water didn’t leak out overnight because it wasn’t level. This wasn’t going as I had planned. The waterer is always a problem, and then I just bailed on the feeder altogether. “The feeder will get them to Monday, at least,” I said. “After that, just fill the container I use to refill the feeder, and dump it on the ground in the run.” It seemed undignified, but they are chickens. They enjoy eating things off the ground. This would be fun for them too. Who doesn’t like fun? I knew the chickens would be fine, and I had to accept that there were other ways of doing things, but these were my ways, and the chickens have survived throughout my doing them, so that’s reason enough to keep it up. My superstitious nature was really taking a drubbing. That’s fine. I think it needs to be drubbed. We’ll all come out of this stronger, right? It’s only a week, right? Right?