Chickens, chickens everywhere!

After spending this morning working, I dashed down to the allotment to feed the chickens. My plan was to just pop down quickly. As it turned out, I spent a manic four hours running around the site trying to complete several jobs simultaneously! The British weather has decided to try to emulate the Mediterranean climate. It was boiling!

I stopped to chat briefly with the gang before heading off to clean out and feed the chickens in the main coop. Opening up the coop, I found a couple of the dreaded mites. So out came all the old bedding, the perches and the bottom boards. Leaving the perches to soak in anti-mite fluid, I walked up to check how Cliff’s white leghorn with bumblefoot was doing. He hadn’t had time to sort it so we decided to do it today. As Cliff got all the medical stuff together, I finished sweeping out the old bedding and made sure the girls in the greenhouse had fresh water and the door open. They looked warm but not too hot which was good. To help them keep from overheating, I put across the greenhouse cover to give them some shade.

Onto the surgery. Cliff sorted out a bucket with warm water in and put her gently in with a towel over her back to keep her calm. Once her feet were clean, Cliff dried them and surgery began. She had two areas of concern – one on the sole of her foot and one between her toes. We tackled the one between the toes first. Cliff made a small incision and tried to squeeze out any puss or infection. Nothing came out. It was at this delicate moment, she decided to try and escape. So with Cliff holding her firmly, I got hold of a pair of tweezers and tried to remove some stuff. Cliff then tried one more squeeze and out came a splinter! Next, we turned our attention to the one at the bottom of her foot. The same thing happened! The poor girl had managed to have two small splinters in her foot which must have been quite uncomfortable. We cleaned up the area, sprayed on purple antiseptic and wrapped her foot in gauze.

Several weeks ago, I had ordered some chicken boots which are designed to aid with healing for foot injuries. Between us, we managed to get the boot on and put her back in with the others. Getting her toes into the right toe holes was interesting but she was very good.

We checked the other chickens to see if they were showing signs of bumblefoot. They weren’t but I spotted another issue with the white leghorn. She seemed to have a prolapse. We decided it would be best to put her on her own as chickens have a tendency to peck at each other, especially if they are injured. I grabbed some bedding from my plot and put it in Cliff’s broody coop. By the time the food, water and bedding was sorted, Cliff picked her up and checked her once more. The prolapse seemed to have resolved itself. Typical. But to give her time to recover from surgery, we put her in the coop so she could have some peace and quiet.

Realising I had left the main coop partially cleaned out, I ran back after borrowing a pressure washer from Cliff. With the wood soaked by anti-mite fluid, I left it to dry and walked up to check on the greenhouse girls. They looked hot. Too hot. So I ran back down to Rachel’s plot and began to sweep it out, wash it with anti-mite fluid and left it to dry. Back in the main coop, I reached the nest box boards and filled them with fresh bedding. Hattie watched me suspiciously through the door. I left the other boards to finish drying and changed the water in the main coop. When I returned, Tommy was trying to impress the girls with his very original cockeldoodledoo.

Next I refilled the water and food bowl from the greenhouse and put it into the little coop on Rachel’s plot. Looking inside the nest box, it was dry enough to put in the bedding. I was starting to run low but I judged that I had enough. Moving the girls was somewhat more tricky. Leia was simple enough to catch being fat and slow. But heaving her all the way to Rachel’s plot was hard work! Lilja I knew would be a nightmare to catch. I wasn’t wrong. After getting dizzy running around in circles after her, I managed to grab her and carry her to the little coop. Both of them seemed much happier being outside in the fresh air, enjoying the light breeze.

That left Sadie and Roxy in the greenhouse. I moved the run outside and let Roxy mix with Sadie. They have been in the greenhouse together for over a week and I assumed they had got used to each other. A few minutes later, I discovered that it wasn’t. Poor Roxy was being regularly attacked by Sadie. As quickly as possible, I dragged out the nest box and set up the outdoor coop. Grabbing the spare food and water bowl, I put them in with the remaining bedding. As I opened the door and stepped in, Sadie had clearly worked out what was coming. Like lightning, she dashed past and hopped out the door! Sighing exasperatedly, I flowed her, taking care to shut the greenhouse door to avoid another escapee. I took a careful look around and found Sadie in the strawberry bed. It was a genius move as I couldn’t reach down from above to catch her and if I tried to reach in from the side, she could just move out of range. Which of course she did. Eventually, I managed to chase her out of the strawberry bed and catch her by the front of the greenhouse on the main path. This wasn’t what she had planned and if looks could kill…

I deposited the runaway into the outdoor coop and put in Roxy. As I put the perches and last remaining boards on the main coop, I thought I could hear some loud noises coming from the top of the plot. When I arrived back up there, poor Roxy was being bullied pretty badly. Wondering what was best to do, I decided the little coop was too small for three birds and I couldn’t leave Roxy in the outdoor coop to be mercilessly picked on. In the end, I picked up my things, grabbed Roxy and headed to the gate. The Omlet coop at home had enough room for one more little one. I got to the gate and was just wrestling with the padlock when Roxy made a spectacular bid for freedom. Despite her small size she leapt off my arm , flying across Pam’s plot and landing neatly on Dave the Plod’s plot. Little minx. Gingerly, I shooed her onto the path, swooping down and catching her. As I walked back to the gate, I gave her a severe telling off. The padlock on the gate is quite stiff to close. Juggling a bag, jumper, handbag and a wriggling chicken whilst simultaneously using both hands to close the padlock was no easy task but I managed it in the end.

Walking down the street with a chicken on your arm is not a normal sight and I caught several of the neighbours goggling as I walked past. Once home, I put Roxy into the Omlet coop. The silkies came running up to meet her, curious to see a chicken without a pompom for a head. Their kind interest was repaid with sharp pecks and loud squalks from Roxy. Poor Cirrus got pecked on the head, shrieked and ran into the nest box. The others cowered and stayed away. Over the next couple of hours there were several stand-offs.

When I opened the nest box to check whether it needed clearing out (I had already sorted four coops today, why not make it five?!), I discovered a tiny white egg! It’s our first Silkie egg! I have absolutely no idea who laid it and judging from the commotion this evening, I doubt we will have another for a while!

The plan for the next few days includes some digging of the bottom sections of the plot and hoeing the top. I will also work on which chickens will go where!

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