Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Long Weekend

it has been a long week. 

A week ago today, I had chickens begin to fall ill in the henspa. 

For those of you who have not read Calamity Acres for long, 
my late husband built a luxurious hen house for me five years ago, 
which we jokingly called "The Hen Spa".  This differentiated it from 
the old hen house, which the feral cats and raccoons have claimed now. 

Above, you can see two of the birds which fell ill myseriously. 

They were gasping and raling in their breathing... and I suspected 
one of several chicken diseases.  

Oddly, only three chickens were affected.  

The third girl cured herself, stayed in under the heat lamp for two days, 
and went out on the third day and has been fine. 

Bird number two, the red bird above... died later the day I took the picture. 

But, the mystery bird... the partridge cochin.... is still alive. 

I had the vet do a necropsy on the red bird.  She had pneumonia, he believed. 

As you can see, this poor cochin has NO neuromuscular control over 
her head and neck.  She can scrabble around a little, her legs aren't working right, 
but she pulls herself around... she cannot bend her head to peck or drink. 
I thought surely she would be dead on Friday. 

Her head lolls back on her back... and her breast bone is sticking straight up to the ceiling, it's 
unnatural.  Her eyes are closed most of the time, but she can open them, when I feed her. 

The vet told me to isolate them on Friday night, and Chris and I (oldest grand) took them 
over to the little red henhouse and put them in there for the night.  You see she still had some 
muscle control at that point. 

I did not sleep... the ferals and the raccoons and the opossums are used to 
checking this house for food every night... as well as the old henhouse... and I 
worried all night.  Both birds were in there, the red hen is out of sight at the right. 
I really don't think either could walk. 

It was the following day the cochin lost control of her neck, and the red hen died. 
I brought them back over to the feed room of the henhouse, if they were going to die, 
I wanted them to do it where there were familiar surroundings (because of course, 
I anthropomorphasize my animals).  

We were also working outside, the kids were out of school on Friday (thru this week) and Christopher was up from Garnett to help. 

He and Jax worked on clearing this fenceline of grapevine and weeds.  The grapevine was 
pulling it down. 

Jax and Paiton raked alongside the old hen house, and they had to keep stopping 
for their helpers. 

And there might have been some brunch at Ihop.  That's Paiton's favorite, 
the Junior Cupcake Pancake Combo... she ate it all... and Jax had 
the Nutella French toast, which also looked wonderful. 

Ooops... that's a blurry picture. 

By Sunday, the poor brown hen looked like this: 

No muscle control in the head or neck.  It was heartbreaking. 

I began feeding her a gruel of oatmeal, honey, water with vitamins and 
electrolytes, and some old Doxycycline a friend had. 

I use a dropper to get it in her, I am holding her tightly on 
my lap, she does still have a little fight in her, and can sort of scrabble around on the floor in the feed room, but... she can't get up on her feet OR eat, or peck, or drink.  So, we dropper it in four or five times a day.  This is no life for this beautiful chicken. 

My helpers and I worked in the flower beds Sunday night. 

We had almost two inches of rain on Monday, though, so we are 
having a little hiatus. 

Monday, I found a HUGE egg in the hen house. 

That is a Leghorn egg on the left, and a smaller brown egg on the right. 

As you see, I could not close the lid of the carton. 

Yesterday, another giant egg was laid. 

Here they are in the skillet this morning, both 

Lilly and Jes had them for breakfast. 

My girl Lil, who tore her ACL on the right hind leg partially a 
few weeks ago, has either aggravated or torn it more. 
She can hardly walk, or hobble.  I put a ramp at the steps for her, 
but she doggedly pulled herself up this morning.  She cannot go 
out except to relieve herself... and frankly, I am not sure right now where this is 
heading.  She is not a candidate for surgery because of her age and weight. 
I said last year I would get her home to Calamity Acres before she died, and 
I have, and she has enjoyed it for the last six months living here, where she grew up. 

We will talk to the doctor once more about it... but for now, I am keeping her on Rimadyl and Tramadol. 

Oh, there's this.... 
the partridge cochin's sister has 12 eggs under her in the 
hen spa.

I am waiting a call from the large animal vet, who is supposed to come and 
euthanize the poor hen this afternoon.  If this does not happen, I'll run her to 
my friend's and we will do it there. 

She can't go on... I can't go on, seeing her like that.