Photo credit: Tracy Halladay

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Updates on My Flock Changes

Well, this summer we finally lost Olga.  She died peacefully of old age.  The weeks prior to her death I would have to get her out of bed in the morning and put her to bed at night.  She spent her days resting in the sun.  We had her over 10 years and she was full grown when we got her.  She was always skittish but the last couple weeks of her life she didn't have the energy or alertness to protest.  We enjoyed taking care of her to the end.

Nate and Olga

So that brought us down to two older hens, who lay very few eggs.  I have been looking forward to getting chicks in the spring and starting over.  I decided to ride out the winter with Sam and Broody looking forward to a fresh start...THEN my brother called. 

Mid November I got a call from my brother.  He was down to two old hens and one passed away.  Neither of us liked the idea of his remaining hen spending the winter alone so I chose to adopt her.  I brought her home and went through the steps (albeit quickly) of quarantining her then keeping her seperated but visible to the existing two hens and then incorporating her at night.  Well, my assumption would be the pecking order would place her at the bottom being the foriegner and being the minority.  That has NOT been the case.  Cocoa (as my wife has named her) keeps the existing girls corralled in the hen house and she stands watch to make sure they do not leave their roosts.  Now, granted, I am not out there all day watching them but that is what I see whenever I check on them.  So I make sure to break them up, make sure that Sam and Broody get some food and water and even force them outside to play (we just got our first snow so they weren't to keen on that).

I realize this takes time, the aggression stage has passed.  There were only pecks and small scabs on combs so no real injuries have taken place.  I am not sure how long this stage will last but we are all ready for it to be over.

The chicken coop is wrapped and ready for the cold weather to come.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

And Then There Were Three...

I have lost one of my oldest hens.  Red has beat many odds over her life.  She was prone to prolapse.  Twice I had to reinsert her insides and despite what many say she recovered.  She never laid eggs again but that is ok.  That was several years ago.  I came home today to find that she had prolapsed and found a place under some shady plants and passed on.  She was never a lap chicken but she had her place.  I think my polish hen Olga may miss her.  They always roosted together and I think Red kind of took care of Olga.  We will miss her.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Watching a Hen Grow Old

First, let me say, I haven't abandoned this blog, despite it being so long since I have posted.  I post a lot of trivial chicken related stuff to the BrighamCityChickens Facebook page simply out of convenience.

Now, on to the subject at hand...Watching a hen grow old.

I know chickens are susceptible to many diseases or predetors and sometimes it seems we can't do enough to protect them and they die of lets say, less than desirable causes.

Currently, Olga who is my polish hen and has been with us since this adventure started, is showing her age.  I think I first got chickens in 2007 and she was full grown then, I have no idea how old she was when I picked her out from a farm where she lived.

She has been slowing down for the passed year or so.  She is often the first one to bed and the last one up in the morning.  She is getting slower around the yard and I can tell her bones and joints hurt at times.  I will see here walking and pause and stretch out each leg.  Let me assure you, I don't think she is in any severe pain more than the pains any of us go through as we age. She has been quite a resilient hen.  She has been through a couple of dog bites when dogs got in to our back yard, but she has always healed up and come back stronger.

In past weeks I've noticed that she can't make it up to the roosts at night so she'll sleep in one of the nest boxes.  For a younger bird, that is not allowed.  Considering her age, I have no problem with that.  The past week or so, she is struggling to make it into the hen house or into a nest at night.  So when the other girls go to bed I pick her up and place her in a nest.  Every morning I walk out and am sure that I will find she had passed during the night.  Not yet.  Each morning, she is perky and talkative, but still quite slow.

I feel that I'm doing all I can to make her last days comfortable and don't feel she is suffering.  It is interesting to see the other hens keep an eye on her.  They are often concerned when I pick her up (she has always been flighty and never a lap chicken).  She has always roosted next to Red and I wonder if she will be missed by the others when she is gone, I know she'll be missed by us.