Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holidays and hens

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas holiday, or whichever holiday you celebrate. We had a nice quiet Christmas Eve and Christmas day dinner, home alone. It was a very nice change from the usual running around, but still strange to not be spending it with family and friends. We did manage to visit friends Jane and Mac on Christmas Eve, and Don on the Hill just yesterday. What a spectacular view Don has from up on that hill! Some day I'll sneak up there and take some photos.

Hen update: Last week, I wandered out with the dogs to close up the chickens, our usual routine. The chickens magically all go back into the coop just as it is beginning to get dark, so I tuck in the girls and Roo while the dogs are outside getting into trouble wherever they can.

As I was coming down the driveway, I saw a black pile in the grass. I had to divert the dogs from investigating, and went over myself to find one of my black hens, on her back, feathers all around. She lifted her head up to look at me, but didn't move otherwise.

I closed up the rest of them, got the dogs back to the house, and came back to see her. She looked pretty awful, but when I put her in the crate in the coop, she at least was able to stand up and walk around. I couldn't really see how badly she was hurt because it was getting dark, but by the next day she was still wandering around and eating and drinking, so I am just going to have to assume she will be OK.

You can see in the photo that she is missing almost all of her tailfeathers, and is somehow injured on her back where her wings attach. Her wings are hanging down almost to the ground. Compare this the the photo of her healthy sister on the tree stump. The black hens have never allowed me to pick them up, much less inspect, and I'm really not sure how to look for wounds when there are feathers covering them up. I tried, but she was too stressed out to let me see anything up close. The best I can do is to keep an eye on her to see if she starts to get worse.

The large photo is of the 3 new girls, with their unusual blue-grey and coppery red feathers. The one closest to the wall is the one who has her own bad hairdo. It is tough being a chicken mom, and trying not to worry about all the little wars they have when they are working out a pecking order. I have read too many things about chickens being cannibals if one of them is suffering or bleeding, and now that we are keeping them all closed up to be safe from the mystery predator, they have to work things out in a tight space.

Not exactly what I want to be worrying about for the holidays!

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