Chickens in Snow and Spring

We had a day of snow in February. It is unusual for Texas, but the chickens didn’t care at all.

Miss Red (big red hen in the center) was very sick and lost a lot of weight over the last few months, and for a while, we thought she might kick the bucket. She was listless, spaced out, droopy, and didn’t eat a lot. It was similar to the last time she had to go to the vet (where the vet said she “might” have worms and deworming “might” help, and Miss Red did seem better after that, but I never got a conclusive answer from the vet), and I really didn’t want to spend another couple hundred bucks on another vague diagnosis.

Clockwise from far left: Cackle (Ameraucana), raggedy Bawk Bawk (black sex-link), Crooksie (Ameraucana w crooked beak and bum leg), Peepers (mutt rooster), Screamy (black feral hen), and Miss Red (red sex-link). Blondie (yellow feral hen) is at the bottom.

Turned out I didn’t need to take her to the vet. One day while cleaning the coop I saw a little poo pile with a GIANT WORM in it.  It didn’t take a genius to figure things out from there. After a round of deworming, she’s back to normal. Since I figured out the problem all by myself, there were no vet bills.

As always happens in March, usually after February has had its last big bang (the snow, in this case), spring has arrived in central Texas. We have buds on the wisteria, which is usually the first plant to get going when the weather turns nice.

The chickens have started laying more. I get three or four eggs a day. The feral hens are the best layers, and the hardiest overall. Their eggs are small, though. Bawk Bawk (the black sex-link that’s always missing feathers) and one of the Ameraucanas also deliver. I’m not sure which Ameraucana is responsible–Crooksie or Cackle–but I see Crooksie sitting in the nesting box from time to time.

Which means two of the hens are not laying: Miss Red and the other Ameraucana (Cackle?).

Peepers is still a totally awesome guy. I love his little guts to death.

"Hells yes I'm getting cuddled by my Daddy. What's it to you, punk??"

He’s significantly smaller than most of his ladies, leading to some comical “romance” in the backyard.

Peepers is very good at sharing. I buy mealworms for them from time to time, and though Peepers loves the bugs, he never eats any. He always passes his treats on to one of the ladies.

"Okay, Daddy, put me down. I have ladies to keep in line!"

Thing have been very peaceful here now that I’ve caught and relocated all of the feral chickens that were invading our yard (with the exception of two of the three hens, which as you see I kept). Peepers does a little crowing throughout the day and night, but there aren’t any more extended crowing contests between him and the rival roosters.

I have read general complaints about roosters and how noisy they are, but Peepers is actually a rather quiet crower, as I learned after listening to the feral roosters. From inside the house, I can barely hear him in the backyard, but the feral roosters could be heard from blocks away. I feel lucky! My rooster is small in size and voice.

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Peepers Trashes the Tub

And this is why Peepers is staying in our (easily cleaned) bathtub—no concept of cleanliness.

 

Here is a closeup of Peepers’s head. You can’t see the teeny puncture wounds he has, but you can definitely see the bruises. This is his better eye; he keeps the other one closed most of the time. The vet reassures me that there’s no real damage to either eye, just swelling and pain because both eyes have puncture wounds very close to them.

On a lighter note, before all this happened I got a good video of Peepers jumping up high for mealworm treats. I’m going to try and cut out all the boring parts, clean it up a bit, and then I’ll post it here.

Peepers: 1 Cat: 0

Peepers pulled through.

Thanks to everyone who sent nice thoughts to us.

Peeps was up and around this morning. I took him to a bird vet who had suitable antibiotics, and the vet also gave me a pain killer/steroid to reduce swelling and pain. Poor Peeps’s little head was swollen around the scratch marks, forcing his eyes (mostly his left eye) closed. He was also reluctant to move his beak to peck for food, and when he did make a miserable effort, he pretty much missed the food.

But the meds really seem to have helped Peepers perk back up. He is still moving very slow, and he sticks close to me and Dozer (the dog) when I take him outside for some sun. But he pecks valiantly, if vainly, at grass and dirt. He does a little better with the chicken feed. And my husband brought home a feast of crickets and mealworms that Peepers, with some help, gobbled enthusiastically; I had to beg hubby not to overfeed our poor chicken on the first day of recuperation.

Peepers will probably be spending the next few days inside, sleeping in the bathtub (now that I don’t have to worry about him dying on me), until we can get some sort of defense up around the kennel. Hubby is pushing for an electric fence (?!?!) but I think a simple 2′ plywood wall around the base of the kennel would be sufficient to deter any grab-and-go cats.