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I am a 50+ yr old stay at home wife of a scientist/Military man.  I raise chickens for eggs, rescue dogs & cats & spoil them all.  I am a silver/metal smith & stained glass artist.  I, at one time was an secondary art teacher & Social Studies teacher.  I am sorta a eclectic earth mother who recycles everything I can get my hands on.  Enjoy working with power tools & even built my own 10ft by 6ft chicken coop.  am pretty much interested in learning everything I can thur books, magazines & friends. I enjoy veggie gardening & doing gardens just for the chickens. I also sew & love making pioneer style comfortable clothes for myself & adding vintage lace when I can find it. I am pretty easygoing, but need my coffee first before I am ready to face the world & day.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Introducing some of my wounded kids (hens)

The last 2 blogs were hard for me to write since I try to always see a positive to everything. Well, it made me think about what I have done or am doing to help some of my not so healthy chickens, who I refer to as my 'kids'
 I not only have very healthy chickens, but I will take any chickens people can't care for or are injured in anyway. I hope that with my care, I can save some of them, though its not always easy & some do not make it in the end.





I want to introduce you to Bowzer, my rumpless girl who was in my very first batch of chickens way back in 2008.  I noticed when she hit about 2 or so months old, she would have these odd seizures where her head would jerk to one side & her left leg would lift up at the same time.  This would occur almost daily & last for sometimes a minute & after wards she would be unsteady for a bit.  First time it happened, it scared me to death thinking she was trying to die.  Because of this, I decided she could not go out with the other hens because I was afraid they would hurt her either during her attack or after when she was trying to recover. She still has the seizures occasionally but otherwise is healthy.

The hen above belongs to a friend who allowed me to take her & 2 other hens that had a bad case of Leg Mites.  As you can see from the 1st 2 leg pictures the mites had done quit a bit of damage, which had to have been painful.  I researched the web to use a non-toxic solution to help kill the mites, shed the old damaged scales & bring the skin back to a healthy stage. The last 2 pics are 7 days later with the mites dead, scales gone & skin showing through.  The problem with leg mites is you can not solve the problem in one day.  The first day I had to soak their feet & legs in warm Benadine water & take a very soft tooth brush & gently scrub the legs to remove what looks like dried cement.  Then I coated the legs & feet in Marigold salve (Recipe at end of this blog) making sure to get deep into the lifted scales.  Daily the legs were checked & more salve put on.  By the 3rd day I was able to actually wipe some of the old dead scales off with a paper towel before I added another heavy coat of salve.  I also added to their diet of plain chicken feed to: Chicken feed, raw oat meal, wheat germ, flax seed, 7 grain mix & liquid chicken vits as well as add apple cidar vinegar to their water. These 3 hens stayed in my laundry room in one of my ER playpens so they would have quiet plus they can spread the mites to the other chickens. After 10 days I was able to return the chickens to my friend.
Meet Coraline, she was also one of the hens I brought back with the Leg Mite hens.  She didn't have  leg mites, but had been abused by a group of roosters who's claws cut open her back on both sides. One side was so bad the skin was cut through so she had a pocket of loose skin over her back that wouldn't close & could eventually get very infected. First thing I had to do with this little girl was cut her wings back since most of the feathers were broken  & they were scraping against her wounds.  I had to wash her back after trimming more feathers there as well, in peroxide then Vet grade Benadine, that's the reason her back is orange in the pictures. I used a antibiotic to coat the back, wounds & under the lose skin then used a gauze over the 2 bad wounds & wrapped the entire back with cotton gauze that I wove over her back & through her legs so it would not be easy to remove.  I left this on for 3 days before removing & cleaning all the areas again.   somehow today she figured out how to remove the big bandage but the smaller bandages are still on & she is healing nicely.  I will continue the antibiotic ointment & cleaning with the benadine until her skin is completely healed.  I also  decided since the back feathers will never grow back from all the damage, to get her one of those chicken fabric back protectors so that she doesn't have to deal with the bitter cold of our winters.  She also has bumble foot on both feet so I have both feet covered so they can heal & the pressure is taken off the sore areas with a cotton donut I made that slips around the wound before taping them up.
As I write I have gotten 3 other Leg Mite hens from the same friend who I am trying to heal.  These girls were given to me so they are now part of the household ER groups. One of them also has bumblefoot.  As you can see, I am a stay at home wife or I could never do this.  Each time one heals & goes back to being a happy chicken I am pleased that I was able to do something for them.
Now for that Marigold Salve recipe I said I would list for you.  I found this in a turn of the 1900's book & made it up & love it.  It works on people & animals.  I have used it for a dog surgery wound, cut paws, chicken wounds of all types & people minor wounds.
Its very simple but you must watch it so it doesn't burn.

marigold Salve:
Fill a non aluminum pan with as much marigold blooms as you can (dried or fresh) cover in water & bring to a boil, shut off stove & let set for 1 hour of so & remove blooms & keep the liquid.  should smell pretty strong.  Add 3-5 pounds lard (not Crisco!) Put back on stove & heat to boil, now's the time you need to really keep an eye on it cause you want to boil all the water out. this can take hours but to me was worth it.  Once you think you have all the water out turn off stove & let it set til the lard firms up.  Take a knife & stick it in several places all the way down to the bottom of the pan.  If you see water you need to heat it up again & remove the water...the water will cause it to mold & go bad if not all gone. another thing you can do is before it firms up is pour it into a bowl & stick it in the freezer to freeze.  Once frozen, remove the lard from the bowl & the water will have frozen to the bottom which you can cut off.  but please once you do this, put it back on the stove to remelt so any traces of water is completely gone.  let cool but while still liquid pour into jars with tight lids.  I store mine in the cool pantry & usually try to have a jar in the frig because in the hot months the cool salve feels good on scrapes.  its also wonderful if you have cracked feet.  Coat feet top & bottom with it & put on socks before you go to bed.
It has antibiotic & antiseptic properties to it & is not dangerous if an animal licks it or eats it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I hate feeling distrust

I started blogging for 'Grit' this year & after sending them 18 articles which they requested I do 1 a week, I felt sad that they seemed to dump me in June without telling me why even though I emailed them asking them why.
But being a Capricorn, I try never to give up so I found this Blog which won't dump me for the things I write. You know us ole 'Goats' we are stubborn to the bone & will find another way to get things done!
Now I am not saying that I or my blog is that important to anyone but me, I like to write about what is occurring in my life so I can look back later & laugh at some of the things I have either gone through or had to deal with.
My last Blog was about the chicken butchering that got witnessed by a neighbor. I try not to let things get to me & am thankful her house is not close but still next door. I knew this was coming from her eventually because when I had a pig I was sending to slaughter she begged me to let her find it a home. Lovey was a angry Pot Belly pig who was attacking me daily so I called our local slaughter business to have her made into sausage & was dumb enough to mention it to this neighbor. Well, I being who I am, gave in & let her find Lovey a home on a large farm, where I might add she is doing wonderful. So I knew then we were going to have problems in the future, when I didn't cave into her requests or begging. I understand her point of view but I am of a different era & mindset....yes that can mean I am also set in my ways...Hey I earned it!
I also will not take orders from a girl who is all of 35 yrs old (my son's age)just because she thinks all animals should never be killed for any reason. As you can see my poor heart is having a tough time with this, because I never like to hurt someone but this is going to be a on-going problem.
The reason I titled this about feeling distrust is this girl has admitted to me that when she was in one animal rescue group they would go at night & steal the animal they felt was being abused. So for the first time since I have lived here, I had to get a lock to lock up my shop so she wouldn't have access to the coop if she ever decided to try & get the chickens. Please don't get me wrong, I am hoping she never does try, but I am uneasy about what she had told me & now can't trust what she might do. For those of you who don't understand why I have to lock the shop to protect the chickens it is because up here in Massachusetts we have a nasty little animal called a Fishercat, that is related to the mink family & mean as all get out.
Last winter I had one get into the coop area & behead a chicken & kill my 6 yr old rabbit. So I built this last April a Fort Knox of coops in my shop with a small door that opens into their run. The outside walls of my shop are 4 inches thick so it would take a Fishercat many days or nights to eat through it to get to my 'kids'. Plus the outside door of the coop into the run has a steel bar that goes through the handle into the ground so that it can't be opened by any animal. I might have been a bit over caution but they have been very safe from animals but not from humans with the shop being unlocked at night.
I never heard from the police so either her husband talked her out of it or when she called the police told her it was not illegal for me to kill chickens in my backyard. Now, yes animal control could possibly make me get rid of the chickens but if they do she has to give up one of her 4 dogs as we are allowed only 3 dogs in this town.
So far no word from them either so I think she will hopefully leave it all alone, but if I am required to get rid of the chickens they will be all butchered since some of them are lame & they would distroy them. There is a chicken butchering company that will come to your house & do all the butchering, plucking ect for you. I know this sounds awful mean & petty of me, but I feel if it comes down to this, she needs to see what her actions have resulted in. Plus I would want to be able to hold & love each chicken before it goes & know that I, not someone would or might end their life. Just as I hold my dog or cat when it has to be put down & I am sorry to say that even though they say it is painless, the needle going into their vein always makes my animals cry out.
To some this may seem horrible but I have the heart & mind of a farm girl. I know where meat comes from, I have personally witnessed big noisy dirty slaughter yards where the animals are crying & afraid. Yet I also am a meat eater & understand life can be brutal. My animals are very well fed & cared for as you see through my other blog articles. If some have to be killed it is done as quickly as I can do so they do not suffer. I know there is fear involved because they are being brought somewhere they are not familiar with, but I try to do it all fast. No reason to drag out the drama of it for the chickens or me.
I find it sad since I adore my neighborhood, that I now feel like I have to be on guard & watch my step.

Friday, November 26, 2010

To Error is human...right?

It has been a busy week for me. Monday I went to help Mary, my Co-op lady finish dusting for mites & treating leg mites also. I ended up bringing 4 leg mite damaged hens plus 1 very beat-up hen that a rooster was over excited with & cut open 2 large areas on her back. My husband & I left around 3:00p.m. so I could drop by the Tractor Supply (a favorite of mine) to get Chicken feed, cracked corn, dog & cat food plus a bag of rabbit feed for a neighbor(not the one mentioned below). Got to Mary's just about the time the sun went down so the chickens were heading for their coops to bed down. I borrowed Mary's husbands head light so I could have both hands free while in the coops to tend to all the chickens. They didn't seem to mind the dusting, only a few disapproving noises but when I had to pick each up to put salve on their legs & feet it got pretty noisy & crazy. I got battered by wings, beaks & feet by most of them but was amazed, when one little hen actually worbled while in my arms. She seemed to think a leg & foot massage was wonderful. Now the 5 I took home, Mary told me to keep as she has close to 70 & is a bit overwhelmed at times. These are very old hens & the legs were in very bad shape so I decided to put them down in the laundry room ER playpen to rest & get over all the moving, traveling ect. I gave them my special feed diet of chick feed, wheat germ, 7 grain mix, flax-seed, oatmeal & mixed it with pumpkin water I had cooked my pumpkins in the last few days. Plus I put Apple Cider Vinegar in their water to help with all the changes they were being put through. Now came the hard part, do I try & heal them or go ahead & butcher them for the freezer? I have 2 coops, 1 has 13 chickens in it, the other has 5 plus a duck. I also had 1 ER playpen with the new ones in the laundry room, 3 chickens in a ER playpen in the dining room plus 1 completely crippled little young hen who sleeps & hangs out in my soft rocking chair...also in the dining room. I decided Thanksgiving day, very late in the afternoon would be a good time to butcher them since everyone in the neighborhood would be gone....or so I thought. I went behind my huge 50ft by 20ft shed near the wooded area at the back of my property. I did not want anyone to witness what I was having to do & even put the chopping block on the ground with a cage near by so after I beheaded them I could put the bodies in the cage to keep them from taking off through the yard. Now you should understand even though I was raised to be a farm girl this is not something I like or enjoy, but I try to do it as quickly & painless as I can for the chickens. Most times I can get a chicken to sleep by holding it by its feet & making sure its head is straight down, this hen decided she was not going to sleep or even relax so my husband gave me the chicken he had carried by its legs to the back area. Well my 32 year old city girl neighbor saw that he had an axe from her back window & watched him raise & lower it, plus saw me wring the neck of the one I had, so it wouldn't see the other die. I had waited til near 4:00 p.m. when it was getting slightly dark to do this plus made sure every ones cars were gone before I butchered. Even though she is about 1/2 a football length away from us she came out yelling she saw what we had done & was calling the police. She is from a big city in Florida, a animal rescuer & a meat eater so though I knew she didn't understand farm ways, I tried to hide this from everyone. Her neighbor on the other side will also be butchering her roosters in about a months time so she should be completely crazy by then. I do understand her point of view but also know that I had to make a hard choice about these very old & damaged hens. If she had known one of them was suffering from old & new blood clots in its lungs & would have suffered a horrible death I think she might have not gone off the deep end. But since she never wants me to speak to her, I can't tell her this or that the other was was pretty messed up from the leg mites & may have completely lost the use of its legs because it was overweight & the stress was going to either break the legs or shut the legs down. So anyway, I did what I could for at least 2 of them & still have the others from Mary I need to decide are worth saving at this time. In the 3 years I have had my chickens this is the first time I decided to butcher them for the freezer, I have 3 chicken cemetaries out in my orchard area with at least if not more than 50 that have either died on their own or were so sick I chloroformed them to put them out of their misery. I really tried to be a good neighbor to protect the others that live in my area from seeing this, but I also feel when she saw the axe she knew what was coming & should have walked away from her kitchen door instead of watching. so I guess the reason for this article besides relieving some of the stress & pain I feel for upsetting her is if you live in an area with sensitive neighbors don't do what I did, either leave a note on their door or tell them you will be doing some chicken butchering so they may want to think twice before coming outside or checking to see what you are up to. I now know that I will have to do my butchering/killing in my kitchen away from prying eyes & leave the axe for the wood. But just to let you know, it can take up to 2 minutes to sufficate a chicken by wringing its neck or holding its mouth & nose closed.....that's why I prefer an axe, fast & they don't know its done. I do not like to be cruel to them just so I can put them in the freezer.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hey You! Whats your name again?

I am good with faces but can never remember a persons name unless I see they enough to make it stick in my brain. Now that being said, I have 29 animals running around in my house & yard & yes they all have names. You would figure someone like me would just call them all sugar, sweetie or honey to make it easy. But then I never said I was a simple person.
I have this thing, yes 'thing' that each animal has to have a special name that fits them & no they can't have easy familiar names that we all hear day in & day out. It gets really confusing some days when my coffee level is low or my brain is on the dead cycle. See I don't have just a dog & cat but 2 dogs Hayley & Rosie, 3 cats Big Momma, Einstein & Macy, the bearded lizard is Daisy May.
Now that's the easy part since I see them everyday all day long in the house. But with the chickens its another story. See I love the old fashion names, you know the ones you never want to name your child, but seem to be idea for a animal? I figured Sally, Suzy or bit my tongue Fluffy were just not going to cut it with me. I mean if I want boring I would get an ant farm...
Ok, I admit I have a few fairly normal names for the hens. Rosy got her name because the others are always pulling out her feathers near her tail & she is always red there. Hey it made sense at the time I named her! Prudence is a big black hen who never shuts up, she comes to me & complains about everything. Baby Girl is a blue/lavender colored Orpington that is like a sweet little child. Scarlett is big & beautiful & I could see her walking(?) down a flight of stairs like in Gone with the Wind. But Tilly would be riding the banister down beak first, while Bowzer would be swinging from the curtains.
See I think they all have such unique personalities I have to give them a name that fits. Just so you know Bowzer is really Bertha Bowzer, a tiny rumpless hen with a big attitude. Zelda came to me with that name & it fit her, she is one crazy hen. Gertrude aka Gertie is like that unsteady slighty drunk female relative we don't talk about.
CeeCee, Willow & Sundance got fancier names cause I had to give up their overly violent daddies, so I wanted them not to feel bad. Mercy & Gracie are Gerties sisters, but Mercy is timid & Gracie is always having to set in to protect her from the bossy girls.
Porgie & Bess are a bantam size hen & rooster, but now I am noticing Bess is becoming a lot like Prudence. Porgie is a short out of control typical male but does seem to always come back to Bess at the end of the day. Why she hasn't kicked him to the curb I will never know.
See, even now I am drawing a blank on who is left. should have just given them numbers! Oh yeah, like I would remember that!
Got it, had to write them all down to get it though. Ginger snap got her name because of her color, she used to be a quiet hen until she got broody & hatched CeeCee, Willow & Sundance. That all changed with 3 kids following her every where she went. She can give Prudence a run for her money with the talking....Honestly I think she has a bad case of the baby blues & something in her just snapped with having triplets.
Pippi La'Roo is a pretty little boy who sounds like a wind up toy when he crows. Jasper the duck is his best bud. And there is Madeline, my semi-toeless hen who can get cranky but overall is a happy girl who hangs out with Bowzer. Madeline came to me with the name Gimpy which I saw right away was not her true name. She is a beat up looking girl but a toughy who can hold her own & has a certain type of grace. Pepper & Piper are the newest ones who came here just in the last few weeks & I will be honest I drew a blank with them. But I had hoped I would get one that the name Piper fitted so it worked out well.
Now I do have 3 on loan, they are in my ER until they heal from the leg mites so they don't have names but I do call them all Sugar when I am handling them. Now, please don't ask me to repeat their names again. If I had been smart, I could have done what Michelle Dugger did & start them all with the same letter. Man, how she keeps track of all her kids names is beyond me. There are days when I try to talk to one & call it every name under the sun trying to remember who it is. I think they go in the coop later & laugh at me because they can't believe I forgot their name.
So just know that if I call you 'Honey' its because I remember your face but your name is another story.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Winter is coming & I think I am ready

Hello everyone!
Well I am keeping my fingers crossed that the new coop I built will be warm enough for the chickens this winter. We have gotten our first dusting of snow in the last week or so & the coop with its 2 red heat lamps seemed to be enough. But I am ready to add more heat lamps if needed, hate that they have to sleep with a red light on so am thinking of getting some more of the lizard heat ceramic disks that I have in the basement coop. They are nice because they give off good heat & don't have the chickens always in some sort of light. I have noticed that Prudence has gotten a tad bit more bossy since the red heat lights have been on. She has always come out to talk (complain) to me when I am out there, but now I see that she is also talking (non-stop) to an chicken that gets in her way.
I have at the moment 3 ER's set up in the house....can't seem to ever truly get away from them. Mary, my Co-op lady gave me 2 girls, 1 who had a over friendly rooster abuse her & the other just looked bad. They are in the dining room ER & share space with Gertie. Last week while Mary was in Canada becoming a Grandmother again, I drug Thomas down to her house to help me clean her 2 coops & doctor chickens. I cleaned coops while Thomas pretended to try & get the chickens. Out of about 50 we were able to get about 10! I am so used to my tamed ones I forgot how hard it is to catch unfriendly ones. I was kicked, bit & wing beaten by the time we got the 10 & was too tired after cleaning out the coops to try & get anymore. Now I watch my chickens like a hawk..pun intended! Any outbreaks of mites, injuries ect are caught quickly & taken care of. Well Mary with 8 kids & a huge household to tend to can't always be on top of her 2 legged kids. I found 3 of the 10 had sever leg mites & brought them home with me, who are in the laundry room ER. I have not had this problem yet (thank goodness) so had to get out the medical book to see what to do to help them. One hens legs looked like old tree bark & split when I was holding her....that just about broke my heart. These nasty little mites live on the hens their whole life & lay eggs that can & do fall onto the nesting boxes, floor bedding & perches so its a nasty mite that will get to any chicken with loose scales. The damage is the flipping up of the scales & a hard cement like growth covers the legs which if not taken care of can double the width of the legs. The medical book said to use turpentine & linseed oil, well that seemed to be too painful for the open cracked skin so I got on the web & found people had used regular ole cooking oil. They just dipped the legs in every day until better, well that got me thinking about the marigold salve I had made & how its got all these healing properties to it & it would stick better than the oil & be easier to manage mess wise. Well its day 5 & they girls are doing much better, legs are shedding the icky stuff & nice healthy legs are starting to show up again. Once they are better will return them to Mary late one afternoon just before they go in for the night & try to get some of the others that have bad leg mites to bring to my ER's. I want to also treat all the others that I can so they don't have to deal with this uncomfortable problem. I am sure I will look like something the cat drug in after I attempt to do this but I at least won't have to chase them all over the yard. Wish me luck that I come out of this alive!
The 3rd ER is a beautiful large basket my best friend Anne' gave me, yes its in the dining room as well. Willow, one of the babies who decided to try & out run part of a bale of bedding hay got a leg injured so I brought her in. Well this little girl has now decided not to use the other leg, so she is a bit like Voodoo Moon who couldn't ever use her legs. Willow is just now figuring out how to move using her wings but I try not to let her do that for long as it tears up the wings & causes raw spots on her breast area. so when shes not in the basket she is in my lap or arms in the rocking chair worbling away. Some days its hard to get up & tend to all of the animals but I sure enjoy the rocker time. I think every chicken person who deals with injured or sick chickens needs a rocking chair. Not only does it eventually calm the chicken but you as well.
Things never seem to be totally calm here with all the goin' ons with the chickens but I have learned that somethings are more important than others....like hold a hen or do the dishes...that's a hard one! Fold laundry or hold a chicken...man such tough decisions I have to make (grin).
With the cold weather some days I am starting to feed the chickens their warm oatmeal mix so tonight mixed up 100 lbs of oatmeal, wheat germ & 7 grain & seed mix into 5 gallon buckets so its easier for me to manage. When I head to the feed store this week for more chicken feed will mix up some of that with cornmeal for the really cold days as dry feed for them. I also have my trusty tote bucket of cracked corn for them as well. So I think they are set for part of the winter anyway. I also froze up a bunch of cooked pumpkin for them along with blended up apple peels from when I froze my cobbler apples. Who knew taking care of chickens would require such a diet! Ok, so most just feed chicken feed & cracked corn but I will tell you the eggs they lay are wonderful so as long as they are happy I am ready to give them the extras. At least with them, I get a reward from all the feeds I give them. And its not like the other animals go without, the cats & dogs get no grain food with buffalo in it & Daisy May gets grasshoppers, crickets & mealy worms so everyone has a healthy diet. Now if I can just get Thomas to quit eating junk food!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Feeling blessed

Its a beautiful cool sunny Fall day & for some reason my mind is going through memories. You know how when things are really quiet, your mind will wonder & you don't even realize that you are seeing past events or memories of things that seemed unimportant at the time but now come up. I have had an interesting life with a lot of ups & downs, pretty much like everyone else. I have had it comfortable, rough, happy,sad,painful & confusing. But today, I see things run through my brain & realize that is what made me who I am. I am not spoiled, rich or have more than my neighbors but I am content with everything I have & do in my life as of right now. I am not super smart, but have common sense which I find to be the better of the two. I may not always be patient or understanding but I try to be kind. I will drop what I am doing to help someone because I know that what I am doing can be come back to later. I have finally understood that it not the 'Who I am' but the 'What I am'.
Who I am, is a 51 yr old twice married mother of one grown son. I have graduated from College, used the Degree for a while then moved on. I am still an artist, I think I was born to be in art in some form since I see things as art works more often than not. I can do most of the basic skills required to survive on my own when needed. I can live.
But I see that there is am important difference in the Who I am & the What I am, The first one explains me but the second one defines me.
What I am, is a gentle woman who cries at beautiful sunsets. I am caring towards those who I know. I am a good friend who will do everything I can to be there for you. I am a simple women with little needs...a good book...a cup of coffee...my animals to care for. I grew up in my younger days quite poor but never saw it as being poor since my Mother was very good at taking care of us. Yes, others saw & may have pitied us, but I was a happy child who didn't care. That has stuck with me all my life, I don't need lots of money, a fancy car or house, new clothes to feel like I am complete. Yes, I am blessed at this stage of my life of having lots of comforts, a good strong house, a car that drives, a pantry full of food that I canned or froze, a great library down the street & 2 wonderful young neighbors who I can feel like a mother to. I have a wonderful family & extended family that make me happy & proud to be part of. All of these things seem so normal but in reality not all that live have these or will never know what 'normal' represents. I have struggled at times with the 'Who' & the 'What' that I am but I see that I prefer the comfort in knowing that as I still age the 'What' will stay the same since it seems I can now finally say I understand & that hopefully makes me a better person.
Ok, some of you who read my Blog will wonder what in the world this has to do with Chickens? to be honest....Nothing. But if you think about it you will see that in some ways it does relate.....
Have a great Chicken day...M'