Playing Chicken

Playing Chicken

The girls

The great chicken experiment came to an end in August.

The girls had a rough summer.  They were attacked by a fox in June and we lost two of them.  The other two I brought back to my place to recover.  Dora, the Buff Orpington, had a sprained hip and couldn’t walk, while Minnie, the Arucana, had a bunch of pulled feathers on her back.  Minnie was so protective of Dora.  Every time any of us would go near Dora, Minnie would run in between to stand guard.  It took about 2 weeks for Dora to get back on her feet.

We were getting ready to take them back to the farm when another disaster struck.  Minnie developed a prolapse.  I do not recommend Googling this, because it’s pretty disgusting looking.  Prolapse isn’t an uncommon condition in chickens.  Their egg plumbing shares real estate with their excretion plumbing, and sometimes pushing all that stuff out pushes some of the plumbing out, too.  The only thing to do for it is to keep pushing it in and set up conditions so they don’t lay as often.  This is why most large scale chicken farmers just cull them when that happens.  It’s a lot of intensive manual work.  Literally manual, as you have to shove your finger up the chicken’s butt.  But after almost a week of pushing it back in, it wasn’t staying and I, a new chicken keeper, panicked.  I took her to the local chicken vet, who said I’d been doing good, shoved everything back in, put in 2 stitches and charged me $250.  Ouch.  (Thanks, Mom!)

We kept them home another week to finish the recovery.  Minnie ripped her stitches out 3 days later laying another egg, but everything stayed where it should be, so we started making plans to relocate.

When Dora prolapsed.

There was no way I could spend another $250 on this, so I committed myself to more chicken fingering and started researching the best ways to put down a chicken.  This time I just kept on, and after 10 days, when I was just about to give up, she started getting better.  It stayed in longer every day, until finally it didn’t come out anymore.  So the key to prolapse is, apparently, endless patience.

But by this point, I’d had two chickens living in my kitchen for 6 weeks (remember, chickens are illegal in my town), and I was pretty done.  So I reached out to my friend Deb up north.  Deb has an actual farmette where she raises alpaca and has in the past had quite a flock of chickens.  She had gotten out of the egg business, but apparently had gotten into chicken rescue.  She had just taken in 4 from a friend whose landlord had decided chickens were a no-no, and so was willing to take on my two girls as well.  So with a heavy but hopeful heart we packed up the girls, their food and their goodies and drove them up to their new home where I hope they are still living a happy chicken life.

Do I regret having done this?  No, not at all.  I loved those girls, and I learned so much about chickens and about myself while raising them.  I can’t wait to have my own farm where I can see them every day and really be part of their lives instead of a once a week chicken farmer.  They have so much personality and are so engaging (even though yes, they are pretty smelly!) that I really need to have them as part of my life.

I saved a dozen of their eggs and blew them out.  Now I’m trying to decide on a good way to decorate them for ornaments so I can always have a reminder of them.