We’ve had several mishaps on our backyard city farm. It’s always sad when a “pet” is injured or dies, but it is a part of life. An emergency this week has prompted this look at the sadder side of farming with a happy ending.
We lost our first hen to a heart attack. She flew over the 6′ fence while we were gone for a couple of hours. Our loyal guard dog (the mixed something from the SPCA) pinned her down until we got home. There wasn’t a single mark on her, but she was literally scared to death.
The next one was poisoned when we left a pool of cleaning water out. The chicken flew over the fence early in the morning, drank out of the pool and died. (I was cleaning tiles to recycle and ended up not even using them). Another reason to go chemical free.
We had two feather footed chicks that both only lasted about 6 weeks and then just died. I read later that they are susceptible to diseases and not very hardy.
We had three, at various times that were attacked by predators and died. I think it had to be possums.
The injuries are harder to deal with than the deaths. The deaths are over and that’s the circle of life. The injuries are ongoing and you hope the best for your girls. We had one that was attacked by a new puppy. She was shaken up and limped for a few days, but now she is completely healed.
One week ago today, the same new puppy, attacked one of the girls that found a loose board in the fence and snuck out. By the time we heard the commotion and got the dog off the hen, she looked pretty bad. I really didn’t think she was going to make it. I brought her in the house and put her in a dog crate full of hay. I gave her water and food and left her alone for the night. I knew she was in shock and needed to calm down. The next morning I was expecting her to be dead, so I was surprised when she was standing up watching me. I took her out and looked at her injuries. It was pretty bad. Most of the feathers on her back from tail to head were gone and she had a hole in her back. The good news is it didn’t look too deep, but it was wide.
I did a lot of reading about how to apply first aid to chickens. Some sites said use one thing another site said use something else. I know from my research on essential oils that tea tree oil is good for healing but too potent to use by itself. So I poured a mixture of olive oil and tea tree oil all over her back. I left her another day. For the next several days I let her walk around the house (yes cleaning up chicken poop, thank God for tile floors) and putting her in the garden when it wasn’t raining.
Last night while I was putting the animals up, she flew over the garden fence, walked across the yard, risking being seen by the dogs, to where the chicken coop is…so I let her in. This morning, I opened the chicken coop and sat in the cage for a while watching her interaction with the other girls. There was a little pecking back and forth, but not too bad. Another surprise. I was expecting them to peck her to death, she had been out of the cage for a week now and still has a big scab on her back. She looks like she’ll be alright and everyone seems to be back to “normal”, whatever that is. Thank God!
Now back to the new ducklings…and even newer baby chicks!
*Photos by Dena Speropulos