…for chickens with injured feet. Not having been around chickens in the spring before, I find myself somewhat dismayed at their trouble with keeping their feet free from ouches. Now, given that they wander roughly five of our acres willy nilly (and, due to the terrible influence of Snap, Crackle, and Pop…sometimes down the road to the neighbors), it is a given that they may find a blackberry bramble, tango with the gravel road more than once, and occasionally find a bit of wire or some other device which should not have been left about, but has managed to be forgotten somewhere.
Chase, one of the easter eggers—who some say looks like a charming British biddy—was limping last week. So, an inspection, which involves grabbing her when she is about to sleep and turning her unceremoniously upside down, was required. She let us know in no uncertain terms how she felt about such an indignity. However, it was rather good we did flip her over as we found a small flap of foot skin hanging from her left pad right by the toe joint. We snipped off the dangling skin, applied Vetricin and Green Goo (which I like better than bag balm), and uprighted her. After repeating the treatment and the subsequent bock bocking (if you have never been scolded by a chicken, it is highly entertaining) the next night, I am pleased to say that she no longer is limping.
On the other hand, I was due to rearrange the chicken coop this weekend, but on Saturday, the spouse informed me that one of the triplets (Snap, Crackle, or Pop) had failed to arrive in the coop the previous night before he locked it up. After growling at him for not telling me the night before so I could engage in a proper chicken hunt, I dashed up the hill instead of helping him unload the scrap metal we had found that morning in order to find the girl. Sure enough, she was right where I expected her to be. Under the porch on the upstairs house. Sure enough, after a night outside alone, she was not acting herself. Her head was bobbing, and instead of running to steal the seeds from my hand, she just stood there. ACK.
So, I dashed downstairs to grab the spouse so he could climb under the porch to fetch Pop. Upon inspection, she was physically ok on the surface, she was just not acting herself. We returned her to the coop and placed her in her favorite spot under one of the heat lamps. Since coop rearranging requires removing all and sundry from the coop, which I could not very well do with a chicken in trauma, I did not change the coop around on Saturday before the rain came back.
Now, I know that the whole bit about Pop has nothing to do with chickens with hurt feet, but we are getting to that. You see, I needed to rearrange the coop so that I could move the youngest baby peepers…the ones abandoned by Dapple Doodlebug…into the main coop and out of the barn office. Although there is straw down for the peepers, under the straw is linoleum. This is bad, as any chicken raiser will tell you, because the lino is slippery and the young peepers can get hurt. Which, may well be what happened to one of the baby peepers who I discovered harboring a limp on Sunday.
While I suspect this limp may have occurred when I brought her back in from the outside run, I am not sure. Again, close inspection of the upside down sort was needed. This time the inspection did not reveal anything obvious that I could work on fixing. There is one toe that could be a little limp, but when a chicken is upside down, all of their toes are not the same as when they are correctly placed in the world.
I have taken a careful watch and wait attitude with both the baby peeper and Pop. Pop has not left the coop since Saturday. She has had water, but is not gobbling the seeds I bring her. She has other food down which she may well eat when I am not there. I hope she is eating it. Refusing seeds is not a good sign. As for the baby peeper, I need to get the coop arranged so I can move her and her hurt foot onto the more solid footing of the coop. This move needs to start on Wednesday when the sun is out and I can evict all of the coop sitters during the moving and cleaning.
I am grateful for the chickens and their charming ways. I would prefer that they keep their poor feet in better shape so I do not have to worry as much. I am also afraid that two of the baby peepers are roosters. As we already have two roosters, I am not sure what we will have to do. Spring is much more complex on the farm.