This is my blog about the day to day lives of my little flock of pet chickens. They're a happy little flock, although they're totally crackers! If you want a laugh, they'll gladly give you one.


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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

A visit to the vet

It's been quite a week one way and another, some of it amusing but part of it very worrying.

First Fizz decided to bonk Titian while she was dozing in the dust bath.  Titian's usual routine is a quick wash followed by a long sleep, as he well knew.   Quite what Fizz was thinking I don't know, but he decided to mount her sideways!  A novel approach, but it doesn't achieve the desired result as I've explained to him before.

Titian got her own back the next day.   Fizz decided to take his biannual dust bath, which is always a long, thorough affair.  Titian bided her time until Fizz was having the chicken equivalent of a long soak and a nap.  Then she casually sauntered over to examine a lone surviving piece of grass growing right next to Fizz.  The only way she could see it properly, of course, was to stand with one foot on Fizz's head and take a good, long look at the grass.   He had the good sense not to even attempt to wriggle out from beneath Titian's dinosaur-sized tootsie.  She finally got bored and moved on, much to his relief.

While all this was going on, we were getting a bit concerned about Mad Irene.

The lovely Mad Irene

Normally, before we open the run gate we say "Up Irene" and she jumps onto the nest box roof (which is next to the gate) if she hasn't already done so.  But on Thursday, she couldn't be bothered, no matter how much we encouraged her.

When the Cluckers trooped out we noticed that Irene was rather lethargic, her eyes looked tired and her comb was paler than usual.  There was a lump high in her throat, but her crop was empty.  Worried that food might be impacted in her throat, we fed her some tomato and then went off to search for maggots, hoping that these two remedies for impacted crop might work for whatever was going on in Irene's throat.

Harrogate has three huntin', shootin' and fishin' emporia because it's a posh town and one has to be able to purchase one's deerstalker and shooting stick from somewhere, doesn't one.  But they are far too upmarket to stock maggots.  Took us a while to find an angling supplies shop that hadn't either gone out of business or turned itself into a trendy wine bar.  But we finally got back to the chicken run with half a pint of the little wrigglers.

Irene ate a few, but didn't approach them with her usual "Mine, mine, mine and so are yours" attitude.  In fact she was unusually quiet and subdued;  she just drifted around a bit of the lawn near us.  Usually she rushes about all over the place, scared she might miss something that should rightfully be hers.  We gave it a while, then massaged the lump in her neck and eventually got the clump of food moved down to her crop.   But then I could feel a hard, forefinger sized lump in her throat which no amount of massaging could get rid of.   By now it was much too late to get to the vet.  We would see how she was next morning.

Disastrous as it turned out.  She wasn't too bothered about coming out of the coop, although she normally rushes out first.   She was very sluggish and had no appetite.  Then she did a semi-fluid poo with blood streaked starkly across the urates.   We immediately made an appointment with the vet.

She was the perfect patient.  She allowed a thorough examination with far more grace than we ever realised she possessed.   The vet could find nothing drastically wrong and concluded that she had something going on in her digestive system.  He then gave her an antibiotic injection, which she bore with great stoicism.   He prescribed a course of antibiotic tablets and off we went.

I had assured the vet we'd have no problem getting tablets down Irene.  Irene made no such undertaking.  Consequently the next day, when we wrapped small pieces of tablet in bits of raspberry, she ate the fruit and left the tablet.  We put the bits in with some corn, which she ate with relish, leaving the bits behind.  We put those same bits in with a few maggots.  The maggots got started on the bits - just very briefly before they were chomped up by Irene.  Who left the damned bits behind.  Again.

Then No. 1 Son tried smothering the bits with butter.  Irene nearly took his hand off in her eagerness to get the buttery bits eaten!  That evening we simply broke the large tablet in half, smothered them both in butter and they disappeared down Irene's throat so fast it made your head spin.

She rapidly improved and is back to normal now, as she proved by excavating one of her world famous "this way to Australia" holes this morning.

Oh, and that sinister finger-sized lump?   That turned out to be ..... her neck bones!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

For LilyRaine

Can't seem to find a way to send you a direct message Lily.  You asked for a picture of Mr Pheasant and I will try to get one for you.  In the meantime, if you take a look on my blog at the post of 5 March 2012 "Pheasant Company" there's a picture of exactly the same type of male pheasant as the two who come to see me every day.  The head feathers look black in the picture, but in sunlight they have a beautiful deep greeny-blue shimmer to them.   There's also a picture of a female with her young.

Hope this helps.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Flying kites

Apparently chickens have between 20 and 30 vocalisations, depending on which study you read.   Irene demonstrated one of them recently when she gave a low purring sound.  This purring sound can express three very different things:  contentment, fear or - as in Irene's case recently - a warning.

Fizz yells his warnings at the top of his voice.  The resulting racket is something along the lines of a strangled shriek.   We reckon he is actually yelling "CROW!!!!", but he does have a tendency to apply it to all sorts of things.  In the past he has warned of helicopters, sheep and, last week, a passing Red Admiral butterfly.   But to be fair, he has a limited knowledge of English, so "CROW!!!!" has to cover everything.   Not that it matters;  none of the girls take the slightest bit of notice of him.

But they immediately took Irene's warning seriously.  Each one of them instantly froze.   After a moment of complete immobility they quietly, and in an orderly fashion, trooped into the safety of their covered run.  Fizz was already in there having a quick snack, but I doubt he'd have noticed the very real danger circling overhead.  His fringed hairdo means he misses a lot.

The reason for Irene's alarm was that she had spotted a pair of Red Kites patrolling in the cerulean sky directly above her.   Red Kites!   No wonder my Cluckers decided to hoof it back to where they felt safe, despite the fact that I was sitting in the garden with them.

I see the young kites quite often.   Sometimes they are being chased off by irate birds intent on protecting their young, sometimes they are circling so high in the sky you can scarcely see them.   It's doubtful they would attack the Cluckers because they mostly dine on carrion, only occasionally taking small birds or mammals.  

But Irene was taking no chances.   After all, for all she knew these Kites might have fancied chicken for a change.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Kindred spirits

I may have been delighted to see No. 1 Son return home after his long, long holiday but the pheasant wasn't.  In fact he was so miffed he wouldn't speak to me for a few days.

The problem was he had got used to it being just him and me at breakfast and afternoon tea.   When I went down to open up and feed the chickens each morning, he would always be hanging around in the garden or on the wall waiting for his share.  In the late afternoon, he would leg it across the field as soon as I appeared in the garden.  More corn for him, and his lady wife if she put in an appearance.

He was a bit late last week, but he knew I would be in the garden with the chickens at that time of day, and so jumped up on the wall.  Horror of horrors - I was not the only human!  My son and our neighbour were there too.  

Well that wasn't on, was it?   He glared at me, leapt back into the field and marched off, his wife scuttling along behind him wondering what the hell his problem was.   

He decided to teach me a lesson.   When I have corn for him, but he hasn't noticed I'm around, I make a loud "kissing" sound.  He stops grubbing around in the field, looks up, spots me and runs over.   For the next two days whenever I made my "kissing" sound, he looked up, scowled at me and got on with his grubbing.  I rather had the impression that his wife shook her head and raised her eyes skyward - but I could be wrong.

Yesterday morning he reckoned I had been punished enough (and anyway he was missing his corn).  So as I sat watching the chickens doing the gardening, he appeared on the wall.  I apologised and fed him.  We were friends again and that should have been that.  But it wasn't.

That afternoon, he was waiting in the garden for me.  No. 1 Son was with me and decided that if I could get pally with the local wildlife, so could he.  He poured some corn into his hand and held it out towards the pheasant.

"He won't eat from your hand," I said.  "You'll have to put it on the wall or the ground," I said.  "Careful!  Don't frighten him," I said.

So what did the bloody pheasant do?  Came straight over and happily ate from my son's hand.