This is how I feel right now after eating too much Chinese food.
Archive for December, 2015
I’ve been doing Too Many Chickens! since January 2013. I’ve been posting about my chickens on the internet for even longer than that. When I first got chicks, I was so excited that I filled up my Tumblr with any little thought I had about them, and that eventually grew into this. First, as a segment on Garden Guys Green Revolution Radio, and then finally here, as a podcast. That’s a long time to be talking about chickens, but I’m still learning as I go, and I’m laboring under the delusion that if I share my mistakes, it may help other people, or at least entertain them. Pointing and laughing at people who don’t know what they’re doing seems to be a popular pastime. At any rate, I’m going to keep doing it, but let’s stop and think about what 2015 had to offer.
This year was fairly eventful due to the mite infestation, which I’m still dealing with. It started in the beginning of the year, when I thought it was feather pecking, then as it spread from one chicken to another, I thought it might be more feather pecking, then vent gleet, and finally it dawned on me what was happening. Then I tried multiple means of treating it – diatomaceous earth and “poultry powder.” The affected feathers are still only just coming back in, but it took a long time to treat, and feathers aren’t the fastest-growing things in the world. I’m trying to feel positive that 2016 will be a year of butts with feathers in our household. You’ll hear about it one way or another.
None of the chickens died this year, which is nice to report. That’s an improvement on 2014. I’d like this trend to continue, but I don’t really have much control over it. Even the best cared-for chicken can die under mysterious circumstances (like the late Mandrell Sister), or a disease there’s no cure for (like the original Suzy Creamcheese). I do what I can, and the rest is up to nature. I’m not going to slack, but I realize that even if I do everything perfect, there are still things out of my control. That counts for non-chicken things too, but those things often aren’t as fun as chickens. What’s the point of not being in control if it doesn’t come with chickens?
It’s almost the winter solstice, and we’re getting very few eggs. This happens every year, and it’s one of the few things that happens every year that I remember happens every year. Once the days begin to get a little longer, the eggs will trickle back in, and by Spring I’ll start to worry about what to do with all the eggs again. It gives me something to look forward to even when we’re still in the dead of February. I never really paid attention to the fact that February has longer days than December until I got chickens. It just always felt like the last awful month to get through until winter was over. Being more in tune with the daylight thanks to eggs has made February slightly less of a drag. I’m still no fan of winter, but I can see a literal bright side to it now.
Mites aside, 2015 was a pretty good year for the chickens. I hope 2016 is even better. All it really has to do is avoid parasitic infestation, and it’s a big step up already. Looking ahead in the shorter term, I’ll be taking the day after Christmas and New Year’s Day off, and then we’re back in business January 8th. Happy holidays, happy new year, and may all your eggs be double-yolkers.
Even though it’s almost Christmas, let’s think back to summer, when you could just lounge by the pool and watch your chickens swim.
No podcast this week because of reasons, but next week get ready for the end-of-the-year wrap-up!
In the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it can be hard to focus. People also tend to take their Thanksgiving leftovers and throw them all together and see what they can make (Mike Dukakis is a prime example). You have a bunch of things that don’t exactly make a whole meal on their own, but when combined with other loose ends, now at least you’re full, if not satisfied. I think that might be my new slogan for Too Many Chickens!, or at least the theme of this episode.
Suzy Creamcheese Junior has some feathers on her butt now. I’m not going to get my hopes up that this is the road to a non-bald butt for her, as this happened once before and then they fell out, but I’m going to at least get hopes. I’ll just keep them down. While her butt looks decent, the rest of her still looks really awful. Her right wing looks totally skeletal at the base. I realize it’s actually feather and not bone, but that doesn’t stop my immediate reaction of “Oh no!” every time I see it. Some little tufts seem to be sprouting in there, which probably means the new feathers are on their way, but they sure are taking their time. Her chest looks rattier than ever. Since that started getting fuzzy during the mite conquest, I’m not sure if it’s molting or mites. I make sure to get it when I give everyone a diatomaceous earth shakedown once a week. Only time will tell. Time seems to be pretty tight-lipped these days.
Boss Chicken has been toughing it out in the cold, though we haven’t had a ton of cold nights so far. We’ll get one or two in the 20s, and then it’s back into the 40s for a few weeks. I decided to figure out a plan for what constituted too cold for her to be out there alone. The night I found her under the coop (which was the night her legs gave way) it had been 18 degrees out. She survived that being exposed in the run, so I figure that at the very least is a baseline to go off of. However, given my overdeveloped sense of worry, I think if it dips below 20, that’s when she comes in. Even though she’s more protected in her hutch than she would be outside, I’m still not willing to take too many chances with her. So hopefully by the time it gets that cold at night, we’ll have figured out the Spooky situation.
Spooky, at the time of this writing, is in a dog crate in our kitchen. We gated the whole kitchen off, and then put her in the crate for extra protection as a means of introducing her to the household. Our big tom cat, whose real name is Hamish, but we call him “The Bone,” came up, took a look at her, snorted (he has sinus woes) and walked away. He has never been the one we’ve been worried about fighting with Spooky, though. He’s pretty unflappable and easy-going. Jenny, our tortie, is the one who used to try to smash through the glass door to get Spooky when Spooky would come to peer longingly into the house. Jennie did go right up to the gate and stare Spooky down, but it remained pretty civil. That’s a good start. Spooky just came out of heat a day or two ago, so I hope that will make things easier. The day we decided to go the dog crate route was the day she went into heat, so there was more howling than I would have liked. She’s much quieter now, but still a little freaked. It is a lot to take in, and our house is a bit of a mess. I’d be freaked too. I’m kind of freaked right now. But soon I think we may have one big crazy cat family, though we’re only at 4, and I’m told 6 is when you’re a crazy cat person. Almost there!
This time of year, it always feels like you’re running around a lot, but not necessarily getting anywhere. We are running around a lot, but I feel like I’ve at least figured out a plan for the things I have some control over. Suzy Creamcheese Junior’s feather issues are out of my hands. Boss Chicken’s cold weather digs I totally have a say in. The Spooky introduction I can control, the behavior of the rest of the cats is, well, cat behavior. Good luck influencing those people at all. I’m doing the best I can. Hopefully Santa will notice.