It’s been a while since I blogged, so let me open with this: in May, I became the mother of six-week-old chicks. And my life has not been the same since.
It’s July now, it’s hot, and my babies are almost mature–in about six weeks, I should begin to see my first home-grown eggs. But first I have to make sure all my hens survive.
So Summer is in the dog house. Literally. If you look at the picture of Dottie (the one in the pink saddle), you’ll see that her tail feathers have disappeared. Yep. Gone, and nothing but tender vent skin showing (the vent is where the eggs–and other biological byproducts–exit the hen). About four days ago, I saw blood, and that’s a red alert when it comes to chickens because they are NOT colorblind. They will peck at anything red, so I had to use my emergency first aid kit to paint Dottie’s bum blue (and my hands, my shirt, and my arms). I hoped that would take care of the problem, but no, the skinless area seemed to get bigger every morning, and I knew Summer–the number one Hen and Dottie’s BFF, paradoxically–was the guilty party. She plucks all the hens, but especially Dottie and Rosa (the hen in the blue saddle).
So–yesterday I dragged out one of our dog crates (thank heaven we have mastiffs, hence the LARGE crates), and put it in the chicken pen. Being the number one hen, Summer was the first to check out the meal worms I had dropped inside, and before she knew what happened, she was in solitary. Only it’s not REALLY solitary, because all the other hens can see her, talk to her, and nuzzle her. She has food, water, and watermelon, but that didn’t stop her from working herself into a tizzy. Combined with the awful heat, she paced and hollered until she was walking around open-mouth, gasping for breath, wings drooping, eyes as blank as a mother of hyperactive preschoolers. I gave her a bowl of ice cubes and told her to calm down, it would be over in two weeks–IF she stopped plucking the other hens.
Things went okay until all the other hens trooped off to the coop to go to bed, and Summer couldn’t go. I put a stick inside the crate for her to roost on, I covered her with towels (allowing room for ventilation), and told her goodnight. She yelled at me until I went around the corner, and I watched her from my bedroom window until she settled down and went to sleep.
Today she seems to have adjusted to her time-out hut, and it’s not going to hurt her, as long as she doesn’t work herself into a panic. Being a chicken mom is a lot like being a human mom. Hubby kept calling me “mean,” but I told him I had to protect all the other girls. I’m not mean, I’m practicing tough love. Someone’s gotta do it. :-/-
Can I get a witness?