Hair Club For Hen

September 23rd, 2016

Strange things are afoot in the coop. Some not so strange things as well. For example, it would seem that most of the chickens are molting. That makes sense, as the days have been getting much shorter, and that’s when nature decides that chickens will dump a bunch of feathers and then grow new ones. It looks like there have been pillow fights going on every night, but I’ve been through this before, so I know it’s actually molting. The tricky thing about molting when your chickens have been dealing with mites is trying to figure out what’s feather loss from molting, and what might be mites making a comeback. Last year I was never quite sure. The mites had really dug in. This year they may have been even worse, but I tried my new treatment of spraying them with a spinosad-based gardening liquid, and something has happened that makes me think it actually worked. Henny Penny is sprouting butt feathers.

Luckily her "down below" bits are covered, as this is a family show.

Luckily her “down below” bits are covered, as this is a family show.

You might think this is no big deal. Chickens lose butt feathers, chickens regrow butt feathers. Circle of butt life. However, I should remind you, or tell you for the first time depending on how long you’ve been around, that Henny Penny has had a bald butt for over a year. It was pretty bad. She was the first to lose butt feathers last spring when the mites first arrived. The other chickens lost butt feathers too, but none quite as badly as Henny Penny. Then, when it seemed the mites had been vanquished, the other chickens grew their feathers back. Not so Henny Penny. I began to worry that there was actually something else wrong with her. There did seem to be some other ailments out there that led to bald butts, but she never fit the full profile. She went through last winter with a bare butt, and luckily didn’t get frostbite, but it was a pretty mild winter. I was always keeping an eye on her, but she seemed fine otherwise, and at some point or another I think I resigned myself to never solving this particular chicken mystery.

I write Sherlock Holmes chicken butt fan fiction sometimes.

I write Sherlock Holmes chicken butt fan fiction sometimes.

Until a recent evening butt check. I sprayed them all with spinosad every week for a month this summer. I figured that ought to cover any mite life cycle. Then I had to just sit and wait. Feathers take a long time to grow back, so it’s always tough to know if a treatment is working. I’ve been so busy lately that I would check to make sure nothing was getting worse, but I didn’t have the time to work up another plan of attack, so my being preoccupied actually created enough time to for nature to run its course. I do believe the mites are gone, and I am basing this on the fact that Henny Penny has little feather nubs popping out of her formerly long-term area of baldness. At first I thought the dark spots were the mites themselves, as it’s been so long since there were feathers there that it seemed hard to imagine them ever coming back. But they’re there for sure. Each day they come in a little more. I wonder if it’s weird for her. Like when you wear shorts all summer and then you have to wear pants one day and it feels unnatural. Except this is all in the butt area.

Skinny pants are even harder to get used to.

Skinny pants are even harder to get used to.

Now the problem is that I’m so excited that her feathers are coming back, I’m totally worried that something is going to happen to destroy them again. I initially thought other chickens had been pecking them out. What if they decide to do that now? What if the mites mount a last ditch effort to reclaim their old territory? I gave everyone a bug spray top-up last weekend, and may go for a repeat dosing, just to be safe. I’d hate for things to look up, only to, er, bottom out again. But I’m now convinced that she just had a super bad case of mites that resisted all my previous treatments. For now, spinosad will be my go-to treatment, assuming we’ll have to deal with this again next year. I’m ready. The chickens are also ready, since they hate being sprayed so much, that if I keep the coop door open for too long, they suspect I’m up to something, and nervously make their way as far away from me as they can get. I tend to have this effect on people too.

 

(CREDITS: Theme music: Chicken In The Barnyard by Fireproof Babies, Music Bed: Rag Pickins by Fred Van Eps)

Kant do it.

September 16th, 2016

I’m still reading Kant for class, hence (he says hence a lot) no podcast this week. It feels like this book may never end, but I think it will. Someday. Maybe after I’m dead. But anyway, there is no shortage of ideas for podcasts, just mass shortages of time. Next week is a new week. I hope.

immanuel_kant_chicken

Nobody saw this coming . . .

September 9th, 2016

It’s the busiest week of the year at work, and I have to read Kant for my latest class. (While it may be for the birds, it’s not about chickens, so I’ll spare you any attempts to bend it into a coherent narrative here.) If I survive the weekend, maybe I’ll see you next week. If I ever get done reading.

"[T]here is no common agreement as to whether  Kant pursues a single unbroken line of argument in this work, and, if he  does, what that line of argument is."

“[T]here is no common agreement as to whether Kant pursues a single unbroken line of argument in this work, and, if he does, what that line of argument is.”

Breaking The Bank

September 2nd, 2016

I’m not going to pretend that keeping chickens is the cheapest activity out there, but generally it could be worse. Once you get the coop sorted out, the rest is mainly small items like food and bedding. Those expenses, for me anyway, come once a month or so, and usually add up to about $20 for a bale of pine shavings and a bag of layer feed. I don’t have to pay for grooming or walking, like we might with a dog, and it’s certainly cheaper than say, owning a boat. Sure, I can’t cruise around a lake on a chicken, but I’m also not bleeding money. I can live without a boat.

Tends to work better with ducks, if you can get your hands on one.

Tends to work better with ducks, if you can get your hands on one.

Of course, there is always the issue of vet costs. For the most part, the chickens seem in good health, save for the mites and occasionally vent gleet, both of which I can treat on my own. Up until now, the only times I had to take a chicken to the vet was when Suzy Creamcheese Senior had a prolapsed vent, and when Boss Chicken’s legs gave out on her. I know my limits, and seek out the pros when needed. But a lot of ailments can be DIY projects. Sometimes messy and gross DIY projects, but that’s the price of savings.

Cost of rubber gloves not included in cost of savings.

Cost of rubber gloves not included in cost of savings.

Which brings us to the Great Bumblefoot Scare of 2016. During one of my evening chicken inspections, I noticed that one of the Mandrell sisters had a weird growth between her toes about the size of a peanut. Not sure what else to do at that moment, I reached out and poked it. It was pretty hard, also like a peanut. It didn’t seem to hurt her, but no one really likes being poked, so I stepped away from the chicken and took to the internet. I was worried that it was either a tumor, or something horrible to do with mites, but my search for “weird growth on chicken foot” brought up loads of pages about bumblefoot. Bumblefoot is when a chicken gets a cut on her foot, and the cut gets infected. They’re always scratching around in the dirt, so the likelihood of hitting something sharp is pretty high. So then I began to read about how to cure bumblefoot. For some reason, I had it in my head that rubbing some Bag Balm on the problem foot would do the trick, but I seem to be wrong about that. Everything I found pointed to the need to puncture and drain the abscess, or, if you were lucky, you might be able to squeeze out the gunk inside the growth, since there’s usually a cut at the bottom. I’m not very squeamish, but I didn’t like the sound of this. Then I read one of the step-by-step DIY bumblefoot surgery pages. I’ve had to ask my wife to hold a chicken while I stick my finger up its butt on a number of occasions. I was always pretty sure that that was the limit of her willingness to help with gross things. To ask her to hold a chicken while I cut open its foot and squeezed out nastiness was going to be too much. Actually, it was going to be too much for both of us. A scared, bloody chicken is not what you want to be around. The surgery also took a lot of time, and one page encouraged taking breaks to rest every so often. All I knew was that if we took a break, we would never be able to pick up that chicken again. I saw doom around every corner, until I read a line about how one person always does it herself because she doesn’t have a chicken vet nearby. Then it hit me. I had a chicken vet nearby! I was ready to hand this one off.

Not the chicken vet. Do not hand off your chickens to this guy. Abort mission! Abort mission!

Not the chicken vet. Do not hand off your chickens to this guy. Abort mission! Abort mission!

The next morning I called and made an appointment. “What’s the chicken’s name?” they asked.

“Uh, well, she’s one of The Mandrell Sisters,” I said.

“We need a first name,” they said.

“Ok, um, let’s go with Lurlene,” I said. The appointment was now set, and I finally solved the mystery of which Sister was Lurlene. Until I actually arrived at the vet for the appointment, and found they had written down Murlene. So there’s still no Lurlene, I guess.

And you thought cats hated to ride in the crate.

And you thought cats hated to ride in the crate.

At the vet, we noticed that Murlene had peanut growths on both feet. The vet did a close inspection, and thought there might be a puncture hole, thereby officially making this bumblefoot, though having it on both feet was a little unusual. She took Murlene out back, and five minutes later, they both returned. “Well, it wasn’t bumblefoot,” she said. It turns out that Murlene has loose foot skin, and each peanut was just packed full of dirt and crud. The vet soaked her feet in some water, and then just pulled the crud out with some tweezers. I was sent home with Murlene and a bottle of betadine to soak her feet in daily. I was also, if able, to soak her feet in epsom salt water daily to try to tighten up the crud area. Amazingly, she put up with this. Once I got her situated in the bowl of liquid, she just stayed put and cooed. I guess a good foot soak does wonders.

Like a day at the spa.

Like a day at the spa.

On the plus side, I didn’t do any unnecessary surgery. On the down side, a $3 chicken cost me $100 at the vet. That’s a bad return on investment, but I think I came out ahead by not unintentionally maiming Murlene by pursuing the wrong treatment. I’ll take the bright side on this one.

 

(CREDITS: Theme music: Chicken In The Barnyard by Fireproof Babies, Music Bed: Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle)

Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial License. No changes made, other than looping it.

Just call it a vacation.

August 26th, 2016

See you September 2nd. Enjoy what’s left of summer.

No tan lines.

No tan lines.

August Slacking Continues

August 19th, 2016

When I finally get some time, you’ll get to hear about the inspiration behind this picture. Stay tuned.

Yes, that is a chicken in a bucket of sorts.

Yes, that is a chicken in a bucket of sorts.

Rampant, unexpected vacations

August 12th, 2016

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.

Everyone likes going for drives in the summer, right?

Everyone likes going for drives in the summer, right?

Vacation?

August 5th, 2016

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.

 

What the?

July 29th, 2016

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.

You say eggtato, I say eggtato . . .

You say eggtato, I say eggtato . . .

Yeah, so . . .

July 22nd, 2016

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!

 

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