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Chicken Talk and How-To, or How-Not-To, also WTF, hens?

April 14th, 2021

Sundown with blackberry blossoms

(Photo by Steven Pings Rawley)

Back to borrowing pictures from Steve because all I ever shoot is my chickens. Ha! I jest. I don’t shoot them. And no, we don’t eat them. (I get asked this more than you would think. The Silkies we raise are (reportedly) good “meat birds.”) Ours lay eggs and get old and stop laying eggs and still get spoiled by us.

I love on them, and we carry them around quite a bit. They’re lovey-dovey-lovey-dovey birds. Yeah, except for the younguns who have already gone feral, but I’ll get to that in a minute…

So can you deal with some chicken talk? Because dear readers, we’ve been raising chickens for about three years (and by “we” I mean mainly my youngest kid, who tells me what to do with the birds) and I’ve learned, just oh so many things.

The other day I saw a hen peek out from behind a tree, up on the hill in the backyard. She disappeared like, oh snap no! when she saw me. A few seconds later, I thought I saw her disappear down the hill. I called to her, nothing. Then later, when she hadn’t reappeared, I asked my son to look for her. There she was, hiding in the bushes where she had disappeared, sitting on 8 big eggs. She’s a Wyandotte, black and gold, and has two sisters. They’re not even a year old, and we’ve raised them with two Olive Eggers and honest to God, they’re all five crazy. They’re half-feral, they run around the yard, chasing off the stray cats and eating the food I leave out for them. (There are only two strays, barn cats from across the street, and I’m not seeing much of them since the chickens have taken over.)

The cat food they’re devouring? (The chickens, not the cats. The cats don’t have much of a chance at it, unless the birds are cooped.) It’s chicken cat food. So yeah. I’m now the kind of person who feeds chicken to a chicken.

SMH and shaking my head and SMH forever.

I can’t remember what I used to do for fun. I think I used to go with friends to pubs, bars and clubs. Sometimes we danced. Drinking happened. I remember sitting at outdoor cafes, too. I seem to recall dating. Dinners out. Staying up until sunrise. I don’t know, it all gets a little vague. Traveling places? Something. Then once Steve and the kids came along, I just took them to the bar with me, so that was easy. We traveled a fair amount. Hmm. I remember being in a bar in Banff with my daughter in the middle of the night, because she was giddy and wouldn’t sleep so I thought, what the hell, we can have some appetizers and drinks.

She was 3 then; she’s 21 now and I’d like to say: Some things haven’t changed.

It’s still a worldwide pandemic, vaccines and all. No, I don’t feel like talking about it. But I will say, I’m looking forward to going out somewhere, eventually, at some point.

It could happen.

Back to the feral chickens: They want to roost outside and party all night. This is not going to end well for them. Nineteen hens, one rooster, a dozen eggs a day (or so) even when we’re not counting the random ones they’re hiding around the yard. Planning an Easter egg hunt, or something. Yes, we could have more chickens, see: rooster. Poor boy. He hasn’t been his usual self. He lets the girls alone, he’s sort of mopey. My son picked him up and was carrying him around, which he totally hates but we don’t care. His spurs are insane, so we always stop to admire them. But this time, yick and oh my heck. One had looped up and back, and was starting to grow into the skin of his leg. At this point my son said later and I turned to YouTube.

This happens, with spurs, and can cause lameness, misery (explains his grouchyass mood), and infection. They suggested using a Dremel (to grind it down), a big nail clipper (like you use for dogs) or a hacksaw. Blech. Dude, if I knew how things were going to turn out some evenings, I’d just go straight to bed, seriously.

Nail clipper. The vid said don’t take off more than half? (Go Google this yourself, I’m not exactly the animal husbandry expert here.) I trimmed off a bit, but it was like an icky fingernail, and the entire thing popped off. The rooster was so relieved to be babied that he had snuggled into my arms and was purring.

He purrs. Like a damn cat. He’s a white Silkie, about half the size of a typical rooster, and I love the boy. All that was left was a tiny new spur under the nasty one, and a fair amount of blood on me, him, the clippers.

I trimmed up the other one a bit. He’s fine, but they can bleed out from this so please use a Dremel and be ye not so stupid as me, as Dooce would say. You can use cornstarch to staunch the bleeding, apparently.

As far as the wild ones and their nest in the shrubs? We’re leaving it and hoping we don’t get a new flock. Twenty is enough.

Questions? Comments? Ask away.

All for now,

WM

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