Our weekends are usually packed with all kinds of chores and projects around the homestead, but this weekend in particular was pretty eventful. On Friday, I went out to the brooder cage in our garage and was doing my usual changing of the water and providing more food. We just had a few Bantams and a couple of other smaller chicks in there because we were concerned about them getting trampled outside with the larger chicks. Sadly, the birds panicked and ran into a corner – and ended up trampling one of their own, and a very special little one of their own. But I should give a bit of background.
I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned Tiny Hiney here or not – a little white Bantam, one of three that our son had picked out at TSC a little over a month ago. This particular chick had a pasty butt issue that required daily interaction on my part, so she was getting really used to being handled and was quite a little sweetie. She was kind of a runt, if that’s possible in the chicken world, and hadn’t grown much since we brought her home – although her “siblings” have grown to twice her size. She’d been acting a little lackluster in the days preceding, and when those chicks swarmed into the corner, she was unfortunately underfoot. I quickly snatched her out of there and brought her inside to a little triage box, and kept a close eye on her all day – she did eat and drink, and slept, but was peeping almost constantly. I was hoping that this was a sign of contentment. In retrospect, I think she was in pain. 🙁 Her head was tilting toward one side; I thought perhaps it was sore from being trampled, but now believe that it was a more serious injury. I checked on her through the night. She was laying on her side by morning, and had passed. She was a special little chick and received a burial in a checks box with a little fleece blankie which I made for her. We wouldn’t normally fawn over a bird like this, but she was one of our special girls. Here she is from a couple of weeks back – you’ll have to excuse my swollen monster hands; I had only gotten out of surgery and off of an IV drip a couple of hours prior to this photo being taken.
I think that there may have been something wrong with her from the start; we kept her alive longer than she would have survived on her own without all of that special care and attention. She was a sweet girl and I wish that we could have seen her grow up. Our Saturday morning started off poorly with the realization that she had passed in the night, but we tried to make the best of the day.
We found out about a young man in 4H who was looking to re-home some of his flock so that he can make room for his next project: pheasants. So we ventured out that afternoon to have a look-see. After inspecting them, we found ourselves back on the road with six full-grown hens: two Buff Orpingtons, two ISA Browns, and two Easter Eggers. They are really nice birds, social girls who come to find us in the yard, follow us around, and already gave us our first two eggs yesterday morning! (They were delicious, by the by.) Additionally, they are mentoring our other chickens. For instance, they have already taught the younger birds that when the sun goes down, it’s time to go inside to roost. Prior to the arrival of these experienced birds, we would have to spend up to an hour in the evening chasing them all back into the coop. Needless to say, we were relieved when they all went inside on their own Saturday evening!
Not everyone was fond of the camera, but here are a couple of photos of the new girls, with one of each respective breed: ISA Brown, Buff Orpington, and Easter Egger.
Another exciting event on Saturday was the opening of our big coop to the older chickens in our flock. We have completed enough of it for them to move in! We still have some work left to do, including the electrical, making a permanent gate-door on the interior half wall, building more roosts and nest boxes, and installing a soffit screened barrier, but the hens and our rooster don’t seem to mind that.
This will be the storage area – right now it’s a mess, because we are still under construction -but eventually, we will store feed and other supplies in this front area.
One of the most exciting aspects to me is that while we did have to buy wood for this project, we have used a great deal of what would otherwise be considered scrap pieces – for instance, in building the roost and the half-wall. George calls it “Honeycomb Hideout” style – but I call it smart and resourceful. We aren’t letting anything go to waste, and it’s all totally functional. I really don’t think the chickens give too much thought to style. 🙂
Sadly, on Saturday evening, we suffered another loss. You may recall our Welsummer hen with the gimpy leg – Handi-Hen. You can read a bit of her story here. Well, she had been getting around wonderfully and even growing (finally!) When the other hens went outside, she’d sometimes join them, or at the very least, perch at the top of the ramp, enjoying some sunshine. Last week, however, I noticed that starting around Wednesday, she wasn’t leaving the coop. I thought perhaps she was just not in the mood; the weather was, after all, not so wonderful. So I let her be. However, I noticed on Saturday evening that she hadn’t moved from the same spot she had spent all day sitting in on Friday. She was looking at me and chirping, so I went into the coop and scooped her up to examine her. She screamed in pain and threw herself down to the bedding. It was awful – she landed on her side and could not get up, and I realized she had broken her neck. 🙁 She died in my hands not a moment later. I am still heartbroken, but I am also glad that she had the life that she did. On some farms, she would have been culled moments after her leg injury had been discovered. We did our best to give her a happy life, even if it was a short one. She also received a burial, next to my rose bush.
So it’s been a bittersweet weekend, with both losses suffered and exciting new additions enjoyed. We also started the process of opening our pool, so that will provide us with some refreshment in the near future from the impending summer heat!
We also went to our vet’s home last night and learned how to milk goats. But that’s another post in and of itself. Watch for it soon!