Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Rooster with Frostbitten Feet - Day 2 Inside

My rooster (Muffin) is still in the bathroom healing from frostbite.  We found him on Monday afternoon, today is Wed morning, day 2 inside the house.  I can't believe he stayed outside and let his feet freeze.  Why didn't he go inside the coop with the rest of the chickens?

Yesterday we brought in a hen named Zoner.  Muffin isn't particularly attached to Zoner.  Zoner was our other rooster (named Leggy)'s fav hen.  Leggy's been gone for quite a while.  So after a few hours Zoner went back out to the coop, and after a few hours of sleeping alone, I brought in a hen named Singer.  Goodness, Muffin got so excited to see Singer!  He immediately stood up for her, and cackled his call for her to eat all the treats we had in front of him.  She gobbled, and then he, too, gobbled the food!  She drank, and then he drank water, too.  I was happy to see him eating and drinking normally.

Singer (named so because when she was young she used to sing a song like a songbird) was excited to be inside.  She immediately dumped the food bowl all over the floor and scratched it everywhere.  She pooped about 30 times.  She decided she wanted to pull up all the towels that were on the floor to see what was under them.  She had to poop in the waterer.  I left her alone for a minute and found her sleeping up against the hot radiator that heats the bathroom (she would have burnt herself!).  She is a high maintenance hen.  And Muffin loved her in there with him.  I guess some men like high maintenance women. Singer spent all afternoon yesterday with Muffin.  I put her back out in the coop at nighttime so he would sleep.

His legs and feet were definitely frostbitten.  I did some research online. By yesterday afternoon blisters appeared on the feet and legs.  I read the following on this website:

If your chicken has frostbitten feet then a longer time of healing is ahead. Depending on the severity of the frost bite, your chicken may lose some toes or at worst an entire foot. Keep the chicken inside out of freezing temperatures on a soft bedding, like a towel, that won't cling to the feet. If the feet turn completely black then there isn't much you can do except wait for the blackened areas to fall off. Often the chicken is able to survive this and continue on with life, though they will be crippled. Some chickens can adapt well enough to hobble around on legs without any feet!

It's possible for the feet to only be partially frost bitten. In this case the tissue will try to heal itself by growing blisters. Do not pop the blisters, even if they continue to swell and produce green or yellow pus. Blisters filled with fluid are a natural band aid for the damaged tissue underneath. They will rupture once the tissue below is healed enough to be exposed.

Treat the feet by soaking them twice a day in a warm water mixture. Add Epsom salt to the water. Be sure to not allow your chicken to drink this water since salt in high doses is damaging to chickens. Grape fruit seed extract is a semi-natural antibiotic that can be purchased at health food stores. It makes an excellent addition to the foot bath along with the Epsom salt. Also add hydrogen peroxide to the warm water. Hydrogen peroxide helps to rid of dead skin cells and keep bacteria and debris out of the healing feet.

After each soak dry the feet well and then coat them with Neosporin (make sure not to use the kind with pain killer in it) or something similar. On top of that, coat the feet with Bag Balm to form a protective layer. Bag Balm contains menthol, which will improve circulation to speed healing. Loose bandages or an old pair of socks will help keep the feet as clean as possible while still allowing the skin to breathe.

If your chicken's feet become infected to the point that the chicken is no longer eating and drinking normally then you can administer Penicillin G. This can be purchased at most feed stores, along with syringes and needles. Full sized large breed chickens should get 0.5 mg injected once a day in the drumstick area of the leg, into the muscle. Injecting a chicken can seem a bit intimidating at first, but if you hang the chicken upside down with the help of a partner, the bird will quickly go limp and you can inject the Penicillin without too much trauma.

While your chicken is healing be sure to feed it plenty of high protein treats along with normal amounts of food and water to help its body recover. Chickens love scrambled eggs, oatmeal, fruit, and most table scraps aside from raw potatoes and salty foods.

With careful treatment and plenty of time most chickens will be able to recover from frostbite and go on to live out the rest of their lives!

Also, here's another website with helpful info:

Good luck to anyone who's going through this.  I hope my rooster makes it and doesn't lose his feet. His feet are still pink, have blisters, and are bleeding in spots.  I'm putting neosporin on them, soaking them in epson salt and warm water, keeping him in the bathroom on soft old towels which get changed often because he poops a lot.  He's eating and drinking well. His gallon waterer has had 5 aspirin dissolved in it for pain.  He's alert and attentive, but doesn't want to stand for very long periods and doesn't hardly walk by himself. We'll see how this goes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Rooster with Frozen Feet

Hi there!  It's been a long time since I've written anything.  So long, in fact, that I'll start over, from the beginning.  Don't worry, I'll make it short.

My name is Lynn, I have a farm I call Razzberry Corner, I'm not a farm girl, but instead have a high tech job in downtown Washington, DC. I have a big heart for animals and try my best with them. This farm thing is a learning experience, I learn as I go, I learn from looking things up online and I hope that my blog one day helps someone else online who's looking for help.  I've experienced so many things when dealing with chickens and guineas that I think others can learn from, and I want to help others so they don't have to struggle the way I often do. My problem is that I don't have much time.  Blogging takes time.  Work takes time, and I often travel for work.  Running a farm, dealing with animals, housework and cleaning, cooking and all the other aspects of life take time. 

As I'm writing this I have a rooster in my bathroom and 2 barn cats in the guest room. (My husband is a saint to put up with me...)  And at least a foot of snow outside.  The rooster is my main concern right now.

His name is Muffin, he was one of my very first two roosters.  Yeah, I didn't know it was a boy and I was new to chickens back then, I didn't think not to name them silly names until we figured out their gender.   But the name Muffin always stuck, and the bird knew his name.  He always answered when we called "Muffin!" My husband always liked Muffin, Muff sometimes wanted to fight with me, but I learned to live with him.  All-in-all, he has been our best rooster, and has always been our lead roo.

Yesterday when it was snowing, my husband went out and found Muff standing in the snow out in the chicken pen.  He picked up the bird and found his feet frozen!  We put him in a cold bath and ever so slowly made the water warmer and warmer - we held him in the sink for about an hour, each of us taking turns holding him so only his legs were under water. The legs and feet got warm, he was able to move the legs up and down again, and he curled the toes just a little when we put our fingers in them.  I think it's natural for a bird to curl their toes around something, simulating roosting.

We put Muff on a towel in front of the fireplace and let him totally warm up and dry off.  He preferred to lay down on top of his legs/feet.  No standing. The legs/feet looked normal.

Overnight last night we put Muffin in the bathroom on a towel that we rolled up so he was able to wrap his toes a little around the soft towel. We brought in a hen (named Zoner) to keep him company.  He and Zoner both ate treats and Zoner drank water.  Muff wanted nothing to do with drinking.

This morning he crowed 5 times.  Zoner went back out to the coop.  Muff is still laying there in the bathroom.  He eats ok, but is not drinking. And not standing.  I lifting him up and looked at the feet - they're all cracked and bleeding in the corners of the toes. I read online to put Vaseline on them, so I coated them with Vaseline and hope they heal. He's not moving around at all, just laying there, although he's alert and seems fine otherwise.

Cracks between toes

I hope he gets better.  We're going to give him a few days inside to let him heal.  If he cannot walk the other birds will pick on him.  He was the king of the coop.  Now he will become the lowest in the pecking order and that alone will destroy this feisty rooster who's used to being in charge.  Sadly, my husband will have to put him down if he cannot walk again.

Any assistance anyone can provide about chickens with frozen feet is appreciated!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Guinea keets go free today

Today I released the "infant" guineas and their mama guinea from the pen.  The infants are 6 weeks old today.  I still call them the infants to keep track of them.  They're not infants, they are the size of a bluejay.  They can fly fine.  We have so many guineas, it gets confusing.

We have 5 adult male guineas and 1 adult female.  The female has 17 keets by her side.  All babies from those 5 boys.

We also have 10 "teenage"  guineas, raised earlier this year from guinea eggs we found out in the woods, all babies from those adult guineas.  The teenagers were adopted out to chicken hens when they were still eggs, and chickens raised them until they were big enough to go free.  The adult guineas don't accept the teenagers, and still chase them.  The teens still think they are chickens and would love to be penned up in the chicken pen with the other chickens.  I don't know why the adult guineas don't like the teen guineas.  Next spring when the adult males are looking for mates they will forget that they don't like them, I bet.

We wondered if the 5 adult male guineas would accept the infants into their little flock.  Sure enough, they did.  They treat them just like their own babies.  And the babies love the adults males, going to them, being fed by them, one big happy family.  The mama guinea loves her 5 boyfriends and is happy to be free with them again.  One of them was her mate, but I can't tell which right now, they are all hanging close to her and her keets. 

So now the adult males are busy with their new family and have stopped chasing the teenage guineas.  The teens are kinda bored and started chasing the outside cats for fun.  I'm betting the cats will keep their distance from the infant guineas, and from all the guineas, in fact.

It's chaos here.  We never expected to have this many guineas running free around our house! 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Guinea hen and keets leave the coop!

Three weeks ago we found our sole guinea hen hatched 17 guinea keets in the woods.  We captured them all and locked them up in our chick coop.  Yeah, we had Brahma chicks and their adopted mama hen in there, they got pushed out to the general chicken population to make room for the infant keets!

And so we watched as the keets grew.  The keets learned that humans brought food, the mama hen learned to hate humans less, but she still hated being cooped up.  The private chick pen was reinforced around all sides with netting, as it was just chain link fencing, and the keets were tiny enough to walk right thru a chain link fence.

And then the big day came - it was time to let the keets out of the coop and into the chick pen.

The little sliding door has been closed the last 3 weeks.

The chickens are watching through the fence going into the big chicken pen.  Everyone knows that something exciting is going to happen!

Here come the 6 adult male guineas along the right side of the fence.  The adult guineas roam free, they're not penned at all.  They know their friend and wife is locked up in that coop.  The female guinea used to be a mate to a dark male guinea. 

Here are the Brahma chicks watching through the fence - they are white with feathers on their feet and legs.  They miss their private pen, but are doing fine mixed in with the other chickens. (By the way, so far I love Brahma's.  They are very sweet chicks!)

Randy opens the little sliding door...

Mama guinea hen is cautious at first.

And then out she comes!

She tells the babies it's ok to come out.

They aren't too sure about this new big world.

And then the keets come flying out, all excited!  They have been learning to fly inside the coop, and have been roosting in the coop rafters the past few days.

Yesterday the keets were scared of their new surroundings.  They mostly stayed huddled in a group.

The Brahma chicks are checking out the keets through the fence.

The male guineas were very excited to see the female again.  They stayed close to the guinea pen all afternoon. One of the males, the former mate, especially stayed near.  The mama guinea was so happy to be able to put her head up close to his, and they made all sorts of squeaks.  The male guineas all seem very supportive of the keets. I think they would take care of them in the wild.

Late in the evening the female guinea hen went into the coop to sleep.  She squeaked a call to the babies to follow.  They had a tough time figuring out the ramp to go into the coop, and the mama went in and out a few times to show them.  Finally they all went inside except for 1 keet.  The sole keet started screaming a panic cry.  Mama did not come out for him, she was trying to get the other 16 situated inside.  Then the guinea male mate, who was outside the fence, made a squeaky noise, and the keet ran across the pen to him, and huddled up close to the fence trying to get close to him.  How amazing that he bonded with his mother's mate so quickly! Possibly it's his own father.  I went in and picked up the keet, who started screaming bloody-murder, and put him in the door to be with the family.  The mother came charging out, wings up in defensive mode, ready to kill me.  When she saw the keet inside she turned to take care of him, and I closed up their door and turned out the light inside and let them sleep.  The keets had a big day.

This morning the door was opened and the family is spending a second day out in the pen.  They are happy birds.  When the keets get bigger I'll let them free.  I see the adult guineas will watch out for them, and the babies can fly just fine now, so they'll be able to sleep in the trees with the adults.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Guinea keets born in the woods!

Our guinea keets are about 2 months old now and ready to be set free.  They live with the chickens in the chicken pen and roost at night in the trres in the chicken pen.  One day 3 weeks ago we let them free outside, but that very day a fox attacked the guineas and killed one of the adult females.  The young guineas were just a few yards away and they wouldn't know what to do if a fox attacked them, they'd be easy to kill.  That day my husband wasn't home, I ran outside armed with my gun and chased the fox off and found the adult guinea he attacked.  She was still alive but died soon from her injuries.  I was mad and searched for the fox, but couldn't find him.  I thought possibly the fox would return for food, it never got to eat the guinea it killed, and I didn't have all day to stay outside and protect the birds.  So that day I herded the baby guineas back into the chicken pen to protect them.  I didn't want one of them to die.  I buried the dead guinea in our pet cemetery.

That left us with 6 adult male guineas.  Just 6 left.  One by one they've all been disappearing.  We always search for the bodies when one disappears.  Only once we didn't find a body - a female disappeared and we found no body, no feathers showing a kill site, nothing.  We always wonder if a female goes broody.  If they sit overnight on the nest in the woods there's a very good chance they'll be killed overnight by a fox or owl.  Anyway, about a week ago Randy swore he saw the missing female guinea with the 6 males.  He said he counted them many times, there was an extra bird.  But later in the day she was gone.  Just yesterday he and I went out hunting for a guinea nest, or for signs of a previous guinea nest.  Nothing.  He figured he must have miscounted the guineas that one day.

Today, the female showed up in the field------with 17 or 18 newborn guinea keets!!!! 

The newborns evidently just hatched overnight and mama was walking around in the heat of an open field.  The babies could hardly walk. Guineas are known to not be good mamas.  We've always raised our guineas keets by chicken hens, because chickens are better protectors.  We always take guinea eggs and place them under a broody chicken hen, the chicken never knows that the babies are guineas.

How very exciting - this is the first time one of our guineas has survived sitting 28 days to hatch a clutch of eggs.  In the past females tried this and always were killed during the first few nights.  Amazing.  We found the nest, it was well hidden.  We walked right by it yesterday and missed it!

And so, we have newborn baby keets again.  It's not a good time of the year for keets - it will be cold soon.  I think it will be too cold for them to spend nights outside in Oct.  But who knows. First things first...

The keets were easy pickings for hawks, blackbirds, jays, any bird that would want a snack.  There was a hawk nest not too far away from where they were standing when we found them.  Plus, there's that fox.  Just 2 days ago I saw the fox in the field, he was hunting the adult guineas.  We didn't think the keets or their mama would make it through the day today, not to mention the night tonight.  And so, for their own safety, the keets and mama were collected and placed in the chicken coop, in the chick/keet/infirmary side.  We had a brood of chicks (chickens) and their mama hen in that coop/pen, and so they got pushed out into their own pen and are not allowed inside the coop right now, the little sliding coop door is closed locking them outside.

The mama guinea was not too happy about being caught and placed in a coop.  We made it pitch black in there until she calms down.  All the babies tucked themselves under her wings.  They all needed to cool down, all the keets were overheated after being in the blazing heat of the field.  The mama guinea hen needed to calm down.

Later today we'll put the mama hen and her chicks in the pen with the adult chickens.  They'll have to manage with the adult chickens.  A friend gave us some pure-bred Brahma eggs to hatch.  We are going to split the babies with them after they're big enough to be on their own.  I wasn't too keen on raising chicks to give away, and I'm not a big fan of the Brahma breed.  They're large birds.  But my husband made the deal when I was away on travel for work.  The real problem with the Brahma chicks is their feathered feet - the other chickens peck the chicks' feathered feet.  None of our other chickens have feathered feet, and I guess our chickens don't understand it.  But the Brahma chicks are getting big now.  And the guinea mama and newborn keets definitely need the protection of their own coop right now.

And so we now have teenage guineas living with the adult chickens, and newborn guineas with their mama guinea hen, and young Brahma chicks and their mama hen.  Things are kinda hectic here at Razzberry Corner these days.

Happy Labor Day to all!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Guinea keets raised by chickens - photos

 Who doesn't love keets!  Our keets are growing up.  They still live with their chicken mama hens.  The black hen is named Katie and has 5 keets.  The red hen is named Doritos and has 7 keets.  The keets are flying now, and roosting up high in the chicken coop.

Here are some pictures of the adult guineas, the birth parents of the keets. The photos are terrible quality, taken with my phone and emailed to myself- sorry! :(

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Little Deer is still Here

This morning around 5am I was walking through my house and I was shocked to see the thin face of a deer peering in  my front window watching me!

No worries - it was just Little Deer, who comes up to my front porch every day.  I'd prefer she didn't come up and eat my bushes and flowers, but alas, this is where she lives. 

Good morning, Little Deer!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Guinea Keets have Hatched

I don't have any pictures ready for this post, but I'm not going to wait for pics.  If I wait to take a photo, the post just wont get posted.  Sorry.  There will be pics in the future!

A little over 28 days ago I found a guinea nest in the woods.  Our guineas free range and it's near impossible to find a nest.  I collected 6 eggs the first day, and put 2 fake eggs in the nest in return.  Then the next 2 days I collected 3 eggs each day, for a grand total of 12 eggs.  I was so excited.

I wasn't thinking about guinea eggs for breakfast - - -NO!  I was thinking about new guinea keets!!!  Our guinea flock is always fighting foxes, hawks, owls, eagles, you name it.  The guineas always lose.  We do our best to fight along with the guineas, so I guess it's the guinea/human team against the fox/hawk/owl/eagle team.  We've lost 2 guineas in 2014.  Our beautiful pure white girl was recently killed by a bird, either a hawk, owl or eagle.  She was the last pure white guinea.  And a dark brown guinea girl was killed by a fox.  We have 7 light grey colored ones and 3 dark brown guineas left.  I like to get keets every year or two to keep the guinea flock going. 

So - back to the eggs.  I always, always have broody (chicken) hens.  I don't know why my hens always go broody.  So, 3 weeks ago, I had a red sex link named Doritos and a black Ameracauna mix named Katie that were broody, so I divided up the eggs between them.  And in the last few days, the guinea keets have hatched!  They are sooooo cute!  Keets are much more active than chicks.  They are running all over the coop already.

Katie has 5 keets - 4 grey and 1 pure white! :) Yeah, another pure white one!
Doritos has 7 keets - 3 dark brown, 3 light grey and 1 that's pure white with brown spots/patches!!  Of course I like the spotted one best, because it's unique. One egg didn't hatch,  We broke it open and saw it was not developed at all, it was nasty rotten egg.  I don't know what happened to that one.

We setup half the coop as a baby coop, and divided it in half again so each mama hen has her own private area with her own babies.  The mama hens don't realize the babies aren't even chickens, they are both very happy with their babies.  They worked hard sitting on those eggs for 28 days!

I will get some keet pics soon. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I Love Lucy and so did Bonnie

Well, I wanted to write a post either about the chickens or guineas and bring you to-to-date on their lives this past winter, but so much is happening, I just cannot slow down and talk about the past winter yet.  I'll get back to it...

With life comes sad times.  My favorite chicken of all times, ever, Lucy, died yesterday.  Rest in peace, Sweet Lucy.  My Lucy-Goosey.


Lucy was one of our original chicks - that makes her almost 5 years old.  That's old for a bantam hen.  Lucy was so tame.  She loved to be pet and have her neck rubbed.  She knew her name and always came when called.  I would go out into the chicken pen, look for Lucy and call her name.  She'd be thirty feet away, hear me calling her, stop her digging or whatever she was doing, and come running to me.  She always came running when I called her.  I'd always open the gate and let her out by herself.  She never attempted to run away from me and always let me pick her up, so I knew it was safe to let her out of the pen.  We don't let the chickens free-range without me around, too many foxes.  So Lucy and I would go for a short walk, she always walked beside me very well, and then we'd stop to dig.  I'd find a stick and she'd assist digging with her feet.  We'd dig for worms, which she'd gobble up.  She and I went for a walk and a dig right up to the end of her life when she could barely walk anymore.  I carried her these last few months to the digging spot because she couldn't walk.  Sometimes she'd almost fall over when we were digging, but she still tried to dig for worms.  She didn't "lose her mind" when she got old.  Her body got slow and frail, but she was still the same old Lucy.  She still reacted just like she always did to me.


Lucy never really cared for other chickens, she did her own thing.  She wasn't a follower.  Doing what other chickens do is normal flock behavior, but Lucy was unique.  The other chickens emulated her actions.


The last few months Lucy could barely walk.  She couldn't navigate the ramp to the outside pen to leave the coop.  We made sure she had food and water inside the coop.  She couldn't jump up on the roost at night, instead she slept on the floor of the coop underneath the other chickens by herself.  It was sad seeing her down on the floor by herself at night, but we knew she was a loner anyway, she probably didn't mind.

And then Bonnie started sleeping on the floor beside Lucy at night.


Big Bonnie, she is called.  Bonnie is the opposite of Lucy in looks.  Bonnie weighs about 20 pounds to Lucy's 2 pounds.  Bonnie is huge, she's a meat breed of bird, one that normally is raised to butcher for meat.  Bonnie was a shelter chicken - she rescued her from the local animal shelter.  She was caged in someone's house and fed table scraps and kept for her eggs.  She got very fat on table scraps.  I think she also ate fast food, whatever, her diet was terrible.  Then it seems she stopped laying eggs, probably because of her poor condition because of her bad diet, and whoever had her didn't want her anymore.  I bet you they got another chicken to abuse.  They didn't know what they were doing - they got a meat breed of bird instead of an egg-laying breed.  They were city people who wanted fresh eggs.  So Bonnie was tossed out into the city streets, left to wander on her own.  I guess they didn't know how to butcher a chicken or they probably would have butchered her.  Only Bonnie was so fat and because she was caged she had almost lost the ability to use her legs.  She had no strength in her legs.  And so animal control easily caught her, and the shelter called me, as I'm on the list of farms who will take chickens found in Washington DC.  And since then she has lived a good life at Razzberry Corner.  She learned how to walk again, lost quite a bit of weight, but still is one big bird.  Big Bonnie.  No one messes with Big Bonnie in our flock.  They probably talk about Big Bonnie behind her back - "did you hear that Bonnie was in prison before?" they probably say.

Big Bonnie

Anyway, Big Bonnie, the bird that doesn't let other chickens push her around, moved to the floor beside Lucy.  The two of them always sat their with their heads together, like they were talking.  We assumed because of Bonnie's weight she couldn't get up on the roost anymore.  During the days Bonnie stayed near Lucy on the coop floor.  Sometimes Bonnie would go outside and leave Lucy alone for a while, then she'd come back to sit beside sweet Lucy.  And Lucy, the chicken who really didn't like other chickens, liked Bonnie.


Lucy waddled around inside the coop as best as she could.  She liked to eat, even though she was very thin at the end.  In the winter during the snowy days none of the chickens went outside, so everyone stayed inside, including Bonnie and Lucy.  I'd feed them inside the coop.  Sometimes it got crazy with chickens running around at feeding time, but I noticed Bonnie always protected Lucy from the other chickens.  Bonnie would physically block the other birds with her large body, making it so they wouldn't knock Lucy over, as Lucy was unsteady.

We recently raised some new roosters from chicks, and they started running around mating with all the hens.  Bonnie always moved in front of Lucy when those roosters came in the coop scoping out mates.  It truly seemed like Bonnie was protecting Lucy.  Lucy went along with Bonnie's actions, standing behind her, letting herself be protected.  Sometimes when the chickens were all cooped up for days on end in the snowy months they would all have cabin fever, walking around, pacing the coop floor non-stop.  Lucy would go into one of the bottom nestboxes that was on the floor for protection from all the crazy chickens.  Then of course if a chicken sees another in a nestbox, they want to go in there and lay an egg in that nestbox, even if there's a dozen empty nestboxes.  (It's that crazy chicken behavior where they all need to follow what the other is doing.)  But Bonnie starting sitting her large body right in front of Lucy's nestbox, blocking Lucy in, keeping everyone else away from Lucy.  Bonnie was so big she totally shielded the nestbox.  When Lucy wanted out of the nestbox she just stood up and Bonnie got up and immediately moved out of her way.  It was so neat to see that Big Bonnie had become Lucy's guardian, her protector.  They always had their heads together, appearing as if they were talking. They were best friends.

Big Bonnie is the big bird in the center

My husband said it was because Bonnie was getting old, too.  At this same time Bonnie stopped laying eggs.  He said Bonnie probably couldn't get up on the roost anymore, she was too big and was probably loosing her balance, that's why she was on the floor all the time now. 

So months went by like this.  We knew Lucy wasn't going to live much longer, she was so frail.  Lucy died Thur during the day while we were out at work.  Her body lay on the coop floor near the waterer, with Bonnie sitting nearby, until we came home Thur night.  Bonnie stayed on the floor in that same location Thur night.  Another chicken, named Ruffles, slept down on the floor with Bonnie that night, with her head near Bonnie's.  That was odd.  Ruffles is a much younger bird and there's no reason she would be on the floor and not on the roost with the other chickens.


And then tonight, Friday night, Bonnie is back up on the roost sleeping with the other chickens.

It appears Bonnie was able to roost all along, but she chose to stay on the ground with Lucy all these months.  Bonnie is one special bird.  And Ruffles.  And of course, Lucy was a special bird, my favorite chicken ever.  My husband is speechless, now that he knows Bonnie can roost.  He said she will probably start laying eggs again now, too.

We buried Lucy in the animal cemetery beside Tommy the cat and the other chickens that have died through the years.  I will always miss sweet Lucy.

People that don't have chickens don't realize that chickens have personalities.  They don't know what they're missing.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Ben and Brindle Update

Yes, I'm back and writing again.  It's been a long, cold, hard winter.  I've wanted to write, to share the farm with everyone, but time was short.  Days and nights flew by, weeks got jumbled together, and before I knew it, spring is here!  And not soon enough!

The animals hated the long cold winter.  It snowed so many times.  Let me tell you right from the beginning, I'm not a cold-weather kind of gal.  I like it hot and sunny.  You can keep the snow!  But this winter it certainly snowed a whole lot!

The two outside cats, Benjamin and Brindle, were C-O-L-D outside.  Since we put up heatlamps for the chickens in the coop, we got the bright idea to setup a heatlamp for the outside cats.  So the cats got a heatlamp.  They sleep on a piece of rug which sits on a wooden bench on the front porch.  We aimed the heatlamp on the bench, and they both cuddled up every night under the lamp.

After a few extremely cold and blustery snowy nights, we realized the heatlamp really wasn't helping much.  The snow was blowing sideways up onto the cats and soaking their bed and the cats, too.  And the thought occurred to me - we DO have an empty guestroom...  And these stray cats ARE guests...

And so Ben and Brindle moved inside to the guestroom.  I know, I'm a sucker for animals.  My husband puts up with me...  Just so you know, they both had already been taken to the vet, been dewormed, deflead, deticked, had all their shots, and were fixed.  Also they were tested and found to be negative for all feline diseases.  Yes, they used to be strays, Brindle even was feral - you can see she has a clipped ear.  Any outside cat here has to go thru that routine, and even still, I dare to call them a stray cat.  I should just call them an "outside cat", not a stray.

The two formerly "stray" cats absolutely LOVED the guest bed.  They loved being inside.  They both became extremely friendly, and love to be pet and hugged and held.  We never thought that wild Brindle could become such a lovebug.  They both even like their bellies rubbed!  And most of all, they love stretching out to sleep on the soft guest bed.

Benjamin especially loves to be held on Randy's shoulder.  Ben sits up on the bed and begs, stretching his front legs up in the air, waiting to be picked up.  Brindle loves to cuddle and then lick us, which is quite annoying when you don't want to be licked, which is, well, always.

We kept Ben and Brindle separate from the inside cats.  It was easier that way - no cat fights.  The inside cats weren't too fond of the guest cats.  So we kept the guestroom door closed at all times.  Sometimes Jack, the Houdini cat who can open doors, snuck in to visit.  Jack's very accepting and friendly.  If only everyone could be as sweet as Jack...  

When the cold winter nights passed, we opened the window (the guest room is on the first floor) and Ben and Brindle went back outside.  They were so happy to be out again.  But it seems they miss their bed.  If we open the guest room window again they will come right back inside and curl up on the bed.  Randy sometimes sleeps in the guest room during the day when he's working the crazy night shift.  When he does, he opens the window, within minutes Ben and Brindle are cuddled up with him on the bed, and they all sleep the day away.

I guess they aren't outdoor cats anymore, they've become indoor-outdoor cats.  They both are great farm cats - they love to help us with our outside chores.  They always walk us to the barn, stand guard while we work in the chicken coop.  Once a chicken escaped out the coop door and Ben stood and watched, helping me to catch it.  The chicken was terrified of the cat and just froze, making it easy to catch.  Brindle loves to run with the guineas.  When I throw bread for the guineas she's right out there with them - she loves to catch pieces of bread and eat it, just like the guineas.  Both cats, but especially Brindle, are always mouse and bird hunting.  Any little bird that comes near her, and any mouse on the property, will meet it's end if Brindle has her way.

Recently a fox moved into our front yard, of all places, and before that a raccoon was acting very strange, falling over when standing, extremely friendly, etc.  When those animals were around at nighttime we ushered Ben and Brindle into the house to keep them safe.  I didn't want little Brindle to be fox food, nor did I want either cat to get rabies from a possible infected coon. The cats didn't know what was going on, all they knew was they had access to their beautiful guest bed again, and they loved it and slept soundly all night. 

So that's the update on Ben and Brindle, the indoor-outdoor cats.  It was a good winter for them.  Next up I'll discuss either the chickens or the guineas, and will tell you how they made it thru the long cold winter months.