The Silkie Spa

It’s been an exciting day! After waiting impatiently for over a year,  the Fylde Fancy Fowl advertised that they finally had painted silkie pullets available! I confess, I may have let out a small shriek of excitement, startling my husband. I immediately messaged the breeder and reserved a gorgeous painted hen. Thankfully, my husband had a day off today so we drove across to pick her up. As we drove, I researched names. As she would be joining Cirrus, Nimbus and Stratus, it would have to be a cloud formation.

I began the chicken spa with the trio of Cirrus, Nimbus and Stratus. I tempted all of them into the nest box by adding some fresh bedding before quickly slamming the door behind Stratus. Nimbus was so busy scratching that she was out of the nest box and halfway into the kitchen before she realised what had happened. As soon as she worked it out, she began to squawk and holler. Rolling my eyes, I deposited her into a warm bath made from a large plastic storage box. To say she was unimpressed was rather an understatement and as soon as she could, she wriggled out of the towel I was drying her in and made a dash for the back door! Fortunately, the door was closed and I herded her into the pet carrier to dry off.

Next was Stratus. She is an incredibly highly strung bird with an intense dislike of being held. Nearly catching me a black eye as she flapped her wings, she also was hastily dumped into a fresh bath. She tolerated it quite well until she had had enough. With a huge disgruntled shriek, she leapt from the bath, dowsing me in bath water. For good measure, she shook herself like a dog, covering any of my remaining dry patches. Shouting for my husband, I decided to take the opportunity to trim her feathers around her eyes. Cuckoo silkies can have issues with their feathers growing into their eyes causing irritation. The solution is to trim them regularly. Sounds so simple doesn’t it? Stratus, already irate, did not make it easy. She kept moving her head at exactly the wrong moment, prolonging the ordeal. Eventually, I was fairly confident that I could do no more without risking injury (either to Stratus or myself), my husband put her down with the others. She refused to go anywhere near us for the next hour! Two down, one to go.

Cirrus was having a luxurious bath in the nest box when I arrived to disturb her. As she is so small, I can almost hold her with one hand. But she is a feisty little madam at the best of times, so I held her in two! She does enjoy a bath and it’s lucky she does as she was more mud brown than white. The only time she took exception to the washing was when I tried to clean her pompom. This was unacceptable and so I quickly gave it up as a lost cause. I dried her with the towel then sat and watched them all explore in the kitchen.

To cheer them up, I put out their corn and pellets. This temporarily gave me a reprieve however, shortly afterwards, their intense displeasure at the entire spa experience was shown in an incredible display of synchronised tactical pooing. As soon as I had cleaned up one, another would appear. Cirrus even managed to produce one in the empty food bowl, as if to say, treats don’t buy love! Or an end to this!

Once they were dry on top and only slightly damp underneath, I took them back out and put them in the nest box. I kept the door shut so that they could have an early night and dry off in the warmth of the nest box. The wind has been building a day and I didn’t want them to catch cold whilst still being damp. Who knows whether they will have forgiven me by tomorrow!

Once all the bath equipment was clean, I went to get our newest silkie. She is absolutely gorgeous but will need to isolate from the others for a couple of weeks to make sure she doesn’t pass on anything to the others. By far the best behaved in the bath, she let me wash her, making sure she had no mud balls on her claws or foot feathers. I think the shock of being put in the bath after a long day travelling, new faces and a new place to live left no brain capacity to be difficult about the bath. I wrapped her in a towel to dry her off and when she wriggled out, I found an old hot water bottle, filled it and put it under the towel to help dry her.

Chickens tend to need a warm companion overnight. As our new silkie can’t have one, the next best thing was a fresh hot water bottle wrapped in an old towel and placed in a quiet corner. Briefly she took a few treats from my husband’s hand but she was clearly very tired. I covered half the cage with a towel to make it darker and left her in peace to recover from a very momentous day!

From my research on cloud formations, I have decided to call her Asperitas. Of all the cloud formation names, this is the newest category, describing the dramatic undulating waves of low to mid-level clouds. Asperitas comes from the Latin meaning rough, which considering the black painted flecks in her feathers, made the name seem rather apt! 

Asperitas clouds (Photo courtesy of The Met Office – https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/learn-about/weather/types-of-weather/clouds/other-clouds/asperitas)

So here’s hoping for a quiet night for Asperitas so she can settle in to life as part of the flock. Tomorrow’s plan is to dig over a couple of beds at the allotment, assuming the wind drops and the weather is dry!

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