|Chicken Chronicles Returns; Part 1
It’s been nearly a year since the last April 12, 2012 Chicken Chronicle entry. At that time I reported that “all was quiet on the home front.”I spoke entirely too soon. Just two days later, the chickens turned me into a liar. What follows are short synopses, in diary form, of what the “girls” have been up to…APRIL 14, 2012:One of the Red’s right claw was curled under her belly like a stroke victim. When Muhammad straightened out her leg, it dangled, paralyzed. She could not straighten it or stand on it. There didn’t seem to be in any pain, just that her leg was suddenly un-useable.A Google search to find out what could cause this, uncovered a myriad of viruses and diseases that can afflict chickens. It’s a wonder any of these creatures survive at all!Narrowing our search to leg and foot ailments, we found the following:
1. “Bumble foot (an abscess on the foot pad)”
2. “Crooked toes,”
3. “Straddle legs,”
4. “Scaly leg mite,” and
5. “Egg yolk peritonitis,” (egg follicles released into the abdomen causing swelling that affects walking).
These problems did not include paralysis so were unlikely the cause.
Our new neighbors let us have the small cages the previous tenants used to corral and torment their fighting cocks in. We put the immobile hen in one to separate her from the others in case she had Marek’s. Apparently, it is highly contagious and progresses quickly to total paralysis and death.
The rest of the chickens– nosey as ever–huddled around her cage for the first day. Obviously, if Sick Chick has Marek’s they’ll get to too.
Sick Chick was calm and looked comfortable; ate and drank normally.
APRIL 17, 2012:
Sick Chick is out and hops on her one good leg; the other leg still held close to her body, motionless.
After three nights of peace and quiet, she was ready to leave the cage. Except for her leg, nothing else was out of order. When I came with the morning vittles, she pogo-legged, racing with the fastest of them. We figure she somehow caught her leg in the chicken wire under their coop and either strained or broke it. Now that she has adapted to getting around on one leg, she’s earned an official name: Hoppy.
And, she’s doing fine.
I wish I could say the same for Floppy: she’s broody, again!
Floppy sits on the others’ eggs, refuses to leave the coop to eat or drink and in general looks more pitiful than usual. I expect she’ll figure it out, like last time, Insha’Allah, so we’re not even worried about her. Muhammad makes her leave as before, but does not lock her out. To be honest, everybody is actually pretty tired of Floppy’s delusions. Girlfriend is a bit crazy, but not suicidal.
Tonight when I went to collect rent, she sat in one of the nests watching as I gathered the eggs. When it came time to check under her, she lifted up a bit so I could take the 5 she was trying to hatch.
I had to say something.
“Floppy, you do realize there are no chicks in these eggs. You do realize we’re not going to worry about you anymore. You do realize you need to snap out of this…” I said.
So be it.
APRIL 28, 2012
This is the day the Shams and Ebraheem came over to raise 6’ of chicken wire across the yard to separate the hens from my planned garden. We have to make sure to not run any colored wire across the top like we had before. The chickens will see it as something solid to land on and with a short flight be able to jump it. Anyway, they’ll now only have half the amount of land to graze on, which is still way more than your average city brood has. Their days of being spoiled are over.
Of course, they were curious and watched the brothers work. They seemed nervous, perhaps sensing what was happening. Big Red let all of us know, repeatedly, loudly, that she was not pleased. She strutted out of the coop, observed the length of the fence, the lessening of her perimeter, and began to caw and screech and cluck non-stop, looking from me, to Shams, to Ebraheem and back to me.
Ebraheem and Shams actually stopped to look at her incredulously, and laughed. She got even louder.
I had to say something:
“I told you Big Red, for months now. I told all of you full access to the yard was about to end. I told you I was going to start another garden,” I said.
After the work was complete, all the hens paced up and down the length of the fence looking for a hole, mashing their heads against the chicken wire trying to go past it.
The plan is to give the chickens time to adjust and feed them from the other entrance (the north side) Hopefully, they’ll soon forget about it.
I’ll start the garden in late May, Insha’Allah.
Asiila Imani is a doula/midwife middle aged mama of two mainly homeschooled boys. She is also my auntie:-)