Animals,  Chickens,  Permaculture and Edible Forest Gardening Adventures

Chicken Rescue

I know its been a long time since I’ve posted.  Sorry!  Its not that I haven’t been taking lots of photos and planning posts in my head.  Its just that there has been no time (especially since loading photos on WordPress takes so long and it does such inexplicable things, it is sometimes three hours to make a post come out correctly!). It has been harvest time.  Thank goodness I have help in the form of my collegiate daughter, home for the summer.  Peaches, plums, strawberries, a few blackberries, four apricots (stupid trees!), cucumbers and of course, zucchini and tomatoes.  I’ll post on some interesting heirloom varieties we’ve been growing at a later date. 

We’ve also been trying to avoid the hot and humid afternoon weather and of course participating in all the volunteer work I’ve let myself in for.  It is all good and worthwhile, but really, the days need to be longer!  Keeping the garden pruned back, staked, vegetables harvested, and taking care of our animals have taken up the days as well.  I wake about 6 or earlier and begin the feeding procedures.  We have two elderly dogs, one who needed medical attention last week, both of whom are on meds.  We also have a sick cat who is on meds, needs to be coaxed into eating (same with the dogs), needs subcutaneous fluids (feline water balloon!), and now has a drain on her head along with a plastic collar.  Fun, fun, fun!  By the time my daughter and I get to our own dinner, it is about nine p.m. and I don’t even have time to read!  Now THAT is busy! 

Then yesterday morning I rose early and used the string trimmer for three and a half hours, some of it near the Fowl Fortress.  At the end of the hot and humid day, our partially blind hen Madge was perched on top of the Rubbermaid container in which their food is kept, but she was hunched over with her wings a little out.  Not a good sign.  Probably egg binding brought on by stress from the noise of the weed whipping and the heat.  Egg binding can be fatal; we lost a hen to it before we knew anything about the problem, successfully saved the lives of three more hens who had it last year although Lark remained eggless to this day and just gains weight instead.

Immediately we brought her up to the house, filled the kitchen sink with warm water, and put her in.  Madge is a Rhode Island Red, a rather large chicken, and to submerge her ‘vent’ I had to hold her wings with both hands and press her farther into the water by laying across her.  I also massaged her undersides gently; we had to be very gentle so as not to break the egg inside of her which would be very bad. 

No, not just another hard night for Mom.

My daughter was kind enough to fold up a dishcloth and put it under my forehead to stop the edge of the sink from hurting my head. 

But wait.. what is that?

Madge is a sweetheart of a chicken.  She is truly grateful for having been rescued and doesn’t mind being picked up. 

It looks like a little face….

She was very patient with all of this.  Since it was warm and soothing, near bedtime, and because my daughter was singing Nat King Cole tunes softly as she worked in the kitchen, Madge dozed off a little during the 15 minutes we soaked. 


We could have gone another five, but the water was cooling and my back was telling me that the chicken dunking was over.

My daughter took the wet hen upstairs to the only room which doesn’t have an animal in it, and which held the warmth of the day, and gently dried her.  The now relaxed Madge worked her vent a little, then out came one of her huge eggs right on the towel in Miranda’s lap! 

Egg success.

The egg was very rough textured with calcium deposits and must have been very painful to lay. 

Rough shell with calcium irregularities. Ouch!

Madge’s eggs are always very large anyway.

Madge’s egg next to Amelia’s

  She was a much happier chicken, and I knew we’d saved her life.  She had a calm night in a pen in the warm room and this morning I heard the melodic croons of a waking hen.

A wet but relieved Madge deciding to roost on Miranda. Bedtime!

Since she laid yesterday morning’s egg in the evening, the next egg had already been forming for today.  She laid it, and although the shell was hard you can see the malformation on the shell as it formed next to the other egg.  Poor sweet baby!

Malformed egg next to regular egg

For the moment, the cats, dogs, tortoise, hens and quail are eating, taking meds and recovering.  Next on my list for the afternoon?  Clean the 90 gallon fishtank and the hummingbird feeders!  That small cave on a remote island sounds mighty good sometimes.  Of course, I’d probably end up feeding the bats.

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