Saturday, December 12, 2009

And The Beat Goes On

I don't know why I made that my header for this entry. Its as good as any, because no matter what happens, life goes on, except for lately here amongst the chickens things haven't been going so well.

Wintertime, is a time for colds, infections, just not feeling so good in general. I mean, you wouldn't feel your best having to endure the outdoors in winter. My heavy girls and boys do well, they have big bodies and very rarely get sick. It seems when it rains it pours though. I been bagging and tagging left and right.

About a month ago I put my young up and coming show polish I had hatched over the Spring in the double wide pen that used to house sultans. For whatever reason, polish seem to grow really really slow, so their body mass is not substantial until after they are way over a year old, even then, they aren't like the heavy breeds. And Serama, well, they don't survive winter, period. You have to bring them in where it is tolerable. I have worked hard to enclose the porch with plastic and I have two utility heaters running full blast in there. It does indeed keep it tolerable.

So on with the deaths. A few weeks ago I had one young silver laced polish die. This was before I even moved them to the big pen. Then, just a few days ago, I go out to feed and water and the first thing I find is two more of my young show line dead. This came the morning after we had that horrible storm blow through with high winds, so bad it actually lifted the front posts of the run in up out of their two foot holes and I found them sitting out of the holes the next day. I don't know if the little ones were frightened to death or what, I probably would have been. It was a bad night that night with all the rain and wind and it was cold too. So, I moved what was left into the porch, IMMEDIATELY. I already have a boy and a girl in with some seramas in the porch. I have three left of the ones out in the pen, along with a young white crested polish cockeral, the only one left that survived that bunch of chicks I bought from the guy down in Jenkinsburg, if you may remember. I am sorry if this entry seems discombobulated. I feel as if I am up and down and all over the place so I hope anyone reading this can follow what I am saying.

So here are the ones left of the polish...from the double wide pen. They are doing well, in the porch.



The silver laced polish girl in the second picture is fine. I just turned on the light in the porch so most everyone was settling down for the night and she was sleepy.

Then, there is Buzzbomb. Do you remember him? He was my best serama breeder. He was cursed with being a serama. I say that, because he loved his freedom, so much, I think depression killed him. A couple of weeks ago, we had a cold snap, so I brought Sheila, his mate, and him in. He immediately became withdrawn, sinking his head down into his body. He was that way for two days. Soon as I let him out...he snapped right out of it and down the steps he bounded off to do fantastic chicken things for the day with Sheila by his side. I had seen this not once, but twice, so I know he wasnt sick. Once a chicken is sick, its touch and go. I do everything I know to do to save them, but most of the time the result is death.

This past week has been brutally cold. He would not have survived some of these nights in the twenties. So I brought them back in. He withdrew again. He would eat some, and drink some, but after five days I noticed he was painfully thin. I started antibiotics, vitamin and mineral supplements and a shot of penicillin in the leg. There was no signs of improvement and yesterday morning I found him passed on.

People say chickens don't have feelings, that they are mindless dumb creatures. I know that poor Sheila was grieving. She was very agitated and upset the day before. She knew. The next morning at daylight she was pacing the cage back and forth, frantic. I pulled Buzzbombs lifeless body from the cage and put it out of her sight. She was upset most of the day. Today she has been better, but I KNOW chickens remember. I could count a hundred ways I know this, but that is for another time. So here is poor little Sheila. Those two were bonded. They went everywhere together. Some chickens group together out there, but they seperate and go wandering their own way at some points during the day. Not these two. I have four girls and one boy out of this pair, and I know it is Buzzbombs son. If you look back an entry or two, you will see a picture of his son. Its the entry with the white cockeral, the other one, the dark one, is his son.

Poor Sheila...


We lost a battle with one of the silver spangled hamburg hens. She came down with a cold that resulted in respiratory distress. She was gasping for every breath. I treated her intensively. I took her out of the porch and into the house in a clothes basket with some towels placed down in the basket. I covered the basket with another towel and put her next to a heater vent in the bathroom to rest. For the next two days I gave her antibiotics orally.

Yesterday I was holding her in my arms, slowly dropping a few drops at a time of medicine into her mouth, as she gasped over and over. It broke my heart. All of the sudden, she spasmed, her wings pointed downward towards her feet, her legs became stiff, and then, she was gone. I started to cry while she was dying. I knew that was what was happening. I have been through it before with Mazda, our first house chicken. It is so heartbreaking to hold them and not be able to do anything but just hold them, comfort them while they pass. That is what I do for every one of my animals if I am able. It hurts, but they deserve the comfort.

So here is her sister, and now she is alone too.


And now, tonight, I found one of my white crested polish girls with a swollen eye. It is swollen shut and puffed out. She also seems to have a bit of runny nose. Once again, I got out the syringes, the needles, the penicillin, gave her a shot. Mixed a cocktail of oral antibiotics and vitamins and gave her a good dose of that. She is resting now, in a carrier in the porch.


Her head is tucked and she is sleeping. Please please, I don't want to lose another.

Then there is this guy here below. Shelby has named him Ellis. Ellis is one of the bantam barred rocks I showed. This little guy started wailing on his brother the other day and wouldn't let up, so I seperated him to a pen of his own. A few days went by and I thought, EH, he can have his freedom out in the yard with the free rangers. You see, he has a fault, as far as show quality goes. He has droopy wings. The muscles that are supposed to hold them up tight to the body do not do their job so well. I had already put the girl with the inverted comb, the silver spangled hamburg that was disqualified, and her brother, back into the yard and they were fine with it, glad to be out of cages.

Ellis, on the other hand, did not fair so well. When I put him out, I watched for awhile. I didnt just throw him to the wolves so to speak. Any rooster low on the totem pole knows his place and won't challenge any dominate rooster. He stayed out of Petes way and seemed to be fine, so I left. That night I went out right after dark just to see where he was roosting. I have several places for the chickens to go in at night. They have their choice of plenty of shelters. Keeps the fussing and fighting down.

Well, I couldnt find him. I looked everywhere. Great. Apparently I had sent him to his doom. The next morning I went out with feed and no Ellis. Not all day. I looked for him in the daylight, but he was hiding really well, or he had run away. I was so upset with myself for doing this. I felt so badly. I had tried to just give him his freedom, and instead sent him to his doom.

Yesterday I went out as usual to feed. I got to the third feed pan and started scooping feed into it and HERE COMES ELLIS! He is crouching like the devil himself is on his tail, but running for me as fast as he can. I was SO glad to see that little guy. He came up to me fast as he could. If he could talk, I knew exactly what he would be saying.

Mama! Please! Save me! I promise I will be good, please get me out of here!!! Please! Pick me up, take me in, I WANT to go back in a pen PLEASE MAMA!

So I stuck out my hand and he came right up to be picked up and was snug in my jacket hanging out while I finished feeding and then we went in. I made him up his own pen, again, and he seemed VERY happy about it all. Here is Ellis, peeking out. I told him it was okay, that I would never ever banish him to the yard again. It was just a relief to see his little fuzzy butt again.




I call this the "WALL O' CHICKENS"...this is part of what my porch is looking like right now. Please excuse the shavings on the floor, I hadn't vacuumed them up yet with the shop vac I keep in there just for that.


I am doing everything I can. All I know how to do to take care of all my babies, but some die anyway. I don't get as upset about every single one as I used to. Some I am closer to than others. Some, like the polish, I never had a chance to establish a bond with them before they died. It just sucked that they died. It was very hard to hatch them and I worked hard to take care of them, and will continue to do so with the remaining ones.

If you are still with me and reading this, thank you for listening. Sometimes I just have to get it all out, it makes me feel better.


I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

It does sound like you need a chicken house for sure. I remember the one my grandmother had on the farm when I was a child. It had three rooms to it. The first was for feed and the incubator and the second and third for the layers...she sold eggs for her pin money. It was large and I remember going in to gather the eggs and was always afraid to reach under a hen to get the eggs too. Hope your babies keep warm and you don't loose anymore.

Tina said...

you are a wonderful mom to all! sorry you are dealing with so much loss. we are having brutal weather this year. do take care.

madcobug said...

I suppose the weather has been to damp and cold for them. Makes you sorry for the mates left behind. Little old Ellis was glad to get back into your good graces LOL.
I hope the rest of them make it through the cold weather but we still have a long way to go. Helen

Spring Lake Farm said...

Sorry for your losses! As a first time chicken owner I have been a little shocked at how attached you become to your birds.

Hopefully you won't lose anymore during the holiday season!


Lisa said...

Awww, the story about Sheila broke my heart. You have had a rough patch lately. I was happy to read that Ellis was indeed okay. It amazes me how you can medicate & move everyone around the way you do. Even though we are among our birds they've just never gotten tame. I hope you don't have any more losses and everyone keeps nice & toasty warm!
love ya,

peggy said...

I think we are going to enjoy the adventures of Ellis, and I think the tree is the coolest.
Kelly, you are really kind to animals, everyone should take a lesson from you. We lost Mack last week, he was my granddog, losing them is hard. Best wishes and for kinder weather too.

Anonymous said...