Monday, April 30, 2012

Nutmeg Hen Autopsy

On Sunday we put down our hen named Nutmeg
Chick on her name above to see a photo of her last week. 

Nutmeg the hen was in pain, and it was starting to affect her breathing, and no one deserves to suffer.  We thought she was egg bound. Her abdomen swelled, she started walking stiff-legged.  I started giving her warm 20 minute soaking baths inside the house to help her release any stuck eggs.  The baths never helped.  I noticed during the baths that the pressure of the bath water made it hard for her to breathe.  Whatever was inside her abdomen was pressing on her lungs. 

We moved Nutty into the infirmary coop this past week.  She still ate fine.  She walked around.  She had a heat lamp focused on her all the time, which she enjoyed.  If the heat lamp was turned off she got upset, and so I left it on all the time, and she stood right under it.  She was pooping fine.  The issue was in her reproductive tract, not her digestive tract. 

I moved other birds into her coop to keep her company.  If the visiting hen was below Nutty in the pecking order, Nutty chased them and wouldn't let them eat her food.  She was a feisty little bantam hen.  I took her outside her coop for walks, she enjoyed her freedom.  But after the walk she was exhausted and often had breathing problems and laid down under her heat lamp.

We put her down because we knew there was no hope for her, and she was in pain.  Her condition was only going to get worse.  However, we really didn't know what was wrong with her.  And so, after she passed away, we performed an autopsy to determine what happened, so maybe we could prevent this from happening to other chickens.  It was very interesting.

If you do not want to see autopsy photos, stop now and turn away. 

First of all, we need to understand a chicken's reproductive tract.  The below photos show how an egg is created by the hen and travels through her system.

Here's a photo of Nutmeg's butt.  You can't see how swelled she was from this angle.  I should have taken the photo from the side view.

During the autopsy, a huge fluid-filled bag was found inside her.  It appeared to be her uterus!  It was filled with what appeared to be a clear liquid.  The below photo only shows half the fluid-filled sac.  As we removed it from inside her, it popped.

There was what appeared to be a hard tumor in her vagina, between her uterus and her cloaca, and it was blocking the entire vagina, holding all the liquid in her uterus.  I don't know if at one time this tumor was an egg.  It certainly didn't appear to be an egg.  It was a solid mass - you can see it between Randy's fingers in the below photo.

Further up we found what we believe to be 2 eggs that were in the reproductive process.  They appeared to be healthy immature eggs. 

And so we determined that Nutmeg's issue was a solid tumor in her vagina, between her vagina and uterus, which caused the uterus to be filled with massive amounts of liquid.  

I hope this information and the photos are helpful to small flock chicken owners in the future.  If anyone has any information that can help diagnose or explain Nutmeg's issue, it is greatly appreciated.

RIP Nutmeg
June 17, 2010 - April 29, 2012

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Wild Asparagus

Yesterday I walked to the asparagus patch to check on my wild asparagus.  The patch is a little walk away from the house and  sometimes I forget about it. 

My wild asparagus grows so very fast.  In about a week an asparagus stalk grows tall and goes to seed before I realize it.  The above picture shows asparagus that has already gone to seed.  The right picture shows asparagus that is ready for picking.  I cut it off at ground level.  New stalks grow from the roots.

Here's a little skinny asparagus!

Here's a really tall asparagus that has gone to seed already.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Guinea and the Hawks, the Appletree and the Weed

Today I went out to check the wild asparagus.  I decided to document what I saw along the way.
I have to walk out to the asparagus patch, past the old historic fence that still stands,

Past the wild apple tree.

And past these bizarre large-leafed plants that have taken over the area where my garden used to grow.  There are dozens of them growing wild.  Something, I think the woodchucks, have been eating their leaves.  Any idea what they are?

As I walked, a pair of hawks circled above.  They screamed at me as I photographed them, and then they were gone.

It's an overcast day, but the sky is beautiful to me.

I found a single guinea out by himself in my backyard.  He was deep in guinea thoughts.

It is a peaceful day here at Razzberry Corner.  Can you feel the solitude and quietness in these photos?  It's nice to slow down and be quiet sometimes.

I had a surprise when I got to the asparagus patch, and of course I took photos!
I'll post those photos tomorrow!
I like to keep up the anticipation!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Not one guinea egg hatched!

Today was the due date for our 31 guinea eggs.  After the last candling, I didn't have any hope for the eggs, but I left them in the incubator for their entire 28 day cycle.  I keep checking for signs of keets, but there were no signs.  I listened for peeps coming from inside the eggs for the past several days, nothing.  I knew they were not alive.

And so this evening I took them all outside, and brought my shovel.

I had to crack open each and every egg to see if maybe, just maybe, a keet had started to form.  But every last one looked like this:  egg yolk.

There were no signs of life whatsoever.  Just egg yolk.
Funny thing, they didn't stink.  I thought they'd smell awful like rotten eggs.  But I didn't get down and smell them or anything. 
It was all very clinical.  I called out each egg's number, cracked it open, peered at it, buried it, and moved on to the next.  It wasn't sad like I expected.  I guess before I thought of the eggs as keets, as babies.  But once I saw they were just egg yolk, I didn't think of them as babies anymore.  Just eggs.  And now they are no longer cooking in my living room.

I have no idea what went wrong with the guinea eggs.  We incubated them just as we did with guinea eggs last year, but at the end last year we moved the eggs underneath broody chickens, where they hatched.  This year's eggs never even started to grow into babies at all.
I really wonder if my guineas are doing the "barnyard shuffle" at all - possibly the eggs weren't viable to start with.  And if we raise no keets this year, I am concerned about the future of the guinea flock.  We need new guineas to keep the flock going.
So, what's next?
Hmmm, we just happen to have a big batch of chicken eggs that hasn't gone into the fridge....
And I know that rooster is having sex with the hens!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fox Attack

This past week a male fox continually attacked the guinea fowl right around our house where the guineas live, right in our front and back yards.
The fox didn't survive.  It was killed with one of the gray guineas inches away from it's mouth.  Surprisingly, all the guineas survived the week.  They spent most of the week in the trees and on the roof of our house. 
We strongly believe this is the fox that killed three of our guineas last month.  I'm not too keen on a fox lurking and hunting a couple feet away from my front door.

We looked it up before considering killing the fox on our land.  According to the MD Department of Natural Resources, it is lawful for a landowner to hunt or trap a coyote, fox or skunk without a Furbearer Permit that is damaging or destroying the personal or real property of the landowner on their land.
I wanted to ensure everything was done legally and properly.

On another note, none of our guinea eggs have hatched yet.  Today is day 25.  I expect them to hatch between now and Friday.  If they hatch at all.  Stay tuned for updates!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Let's talk about worming chickens and eggbound hens.

I have a problem with one of my chickens. 

Here's the story - This is Nutmeg, Nutty for short. She's a sweet bantam hen who's stop laying, and her butt is all swelled.  She stands around looking like this, with her butt down, tail down, looking miserable.  However, if I put treats out in the pen, she's runs and fights with the other hens to get her fair share.  At first I assumed she was eggbound. 

Last weekend I gave her too many warm, 20 minute baths in the sink to even count.  I blow-dried her and massaged her bum to help her to relax.  Nutmeg spent the weekend in my bathroom.  She pooped a few times, but no eggs.  She loves to eat and has a healthy appetite, she loves her treats.  I didn't think eggbound hens would eat so well.  And a week later, she still looks the same, but she's still alive.  I didn't think an eggbound bird would live over a week without passing the egg. 
And so, next I thought, maybe she has worms?

But she's the only bird with the symptoms.  Could only one bird get worms?  And that makes me think she's eggbound.  Regardless, I'll get some garlic for the birds today. 
What do you think?
I'll continue spa treatments for Nutty this weekend. 

I'll show you some photos I took this morning of some of my other chickens.

Here's Leggy, one of the roosters.  I love this big boy.  His big, beautiful, and stupid.  If he were a person he'd be a male model.

Muffin is the lead rooster.  He's smart and super fast.  A lean mean fighting machine.  His mind is sharp as a whip and he can be dangerous.

This is my favorite bird, Lucy, a bantam hen.  All she wants is to be taken away from all those other crazy chickens.  She doesn't realize that she's a chicken, she thinks she's human and should hang with me.  I wish she could, she's a darling.

Charlotte has always been our best mama hen.  We call her Mama Charlotte, even though she has no babies now.  We believe Nutty is her and Muffin's daughter.

Oh, Poor Nutty.  Nobody else looks sick like Nutty.

Luna is a big girl with a fluffy butt.

Zoner is in the nest box.

Dotty is named after my Aunt Dorothy.  Dotty's very fiesty and is always the first to race in for treats.  She is Muffin's granddaughter, she's interited his speed, but she's still very friendly.

Have a nice weekend!
If anyone has any recommendations about Nutmeg, let me know! 
I'll keep you posted on her condition.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Candling of Guinea Eggs

Last night I candled all my incubating guinea eggs!
Here are some photos from the guinea eggs candling.  It was very hard to know what I was seeing.  After looking at all the eggs, I'm not sure any of them are alive.  It looks like I'm a week off with my times, if they are even alive, they are a week behind my schedule.  About half of them appeared to be clear, and about half had some dark mass if I turned the egg a certain way.  None of them really looked like I expected, as if a baby is going to hatch in 10 days.

I made a guinea egg candling box by cutting a quarter-sized hole in a tissue box and putting a flashlight on the inside.  Just put an egg on the box and turn out the light.  I did it at nighttime so the room was dark without the light.

I really don't think I have any good guinea eggs and am discouraged.  Last year I put guinea eggs underneath broody chicken hens and didn't mess with them and they hatched.  This year I am using the incubator, as I have no broody hens.  Maybe something is wrong with my incubator.  Maybe my guineas aren't having sex.  I don't know...

Time will tell.  I'm not going to hold my breath for keets.  I'll let you know as they get closer to the estimated due date week of 24 Apr12 through 28Apr12.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Guinea eggs - 2 weeks to hatch

Our 31 guinea eggs should have about 2 weeks till their hatch date.  Today I numbered each egg in a photo.  I'll have to write the number on the eggs to keep track of them. 

I reviewed the shell color of the eggs.  I learned last year that certain guineas lay darker shells and others lay lighter shells, based on the color of the bird.  So it makes sense that the shell color could predict the color of the keet inside.  I want to maintain a good mixed flock.

And so, I made a chart of the colors.  Here's my totals:

Dark brown: 15
Medium brown: 3
Medium brown with spots: 3
White: 5
White with spots: 5
Total: 31

The darker eggs will probably be pearl gray, the white eggs will be white, the spotty eggs may be lavender.  I assume the medium brown eggs will be lavender.  We'll see.  Here's a guinea fowl color chart for quick reference. 

I also attempted to candle the eggs using a flashlight.  They all looked "spotty".  I could see an air sac in the top.  I could not see a developing keet, which really worries me.  They are halfway through the process, I would think I should see something in there.  But I candled in the middle of the day, and I only shone a flashlight up to each egg.  Maybe tonight when it's dark in the room I'll attempt to candle again, and maybe then I'll get better results.  Also tonight I'll use a tissue box.  Here's an interesting candling guide.

I'll attempt to take photos of the candling tonight and will keep you posted.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lynn's Famous Fruit and Veggie Diet Part III

This blog post is part three of my fruit and veggie diet. 

Starting weight week 3 ~ 125 pounds

I continued to eat a fresh fruit or veggie approximately every hour as I started into week 3. This included apples, bananas, grapefruits, orange, tangerines, avocados, kiwis, celery, raw green peppers, green beans, broccoli, summer squash, strawberries, blueberries, and others.

Week Three Notes
1.  Monday I was dead tired during the day, even though I slept my normal amount of hours the last night.  Workouts ceased on Monday.

2. Man, did I crave protein.  I wanted meat, fish, beef, chicken, anything.  I ate 2 hard boiled eggs Monday at lunchtime. 

3.  Tuesday I was exhausted.  All I wanted to do was sleep.  I barely made it till 5pm, I just wanted to put my head down on my desk and pass out.  I really felt crappy, dizzy, light-headed, and really worn out.  No workout Tuesday.  I could barely walk, couldn't even consider running or working out.

4.  Tuesday I had a cupcake at 5pm because I felt I didn't have the strength to even drive home.  I had shrimp and veggies for dinner. 

5.  Diet ended on Tuesday.  I didn't like feeling so tired, and decided to eat healthy, but allow meat and carbs.  Maybe three weeks was too long for the fruit and veggie diet?  I had pizza for lunch on Wed and felt great, and went back to working out again.  Also I had 2 cupcakes on Wed.  Bad girl, but I couldn't help it!  There was this party at work, and I made the cupcakes...

6.  On Thursday my terrible sugar cravings were back!

7.  I ate mostly fruit and veggies for the rest of the week, but allowed other foods too.  I have maintained my weight at 125 pounds.  I still have 10 pounds to lose, but I am going to increase my workouts and eat healthy, but not only fruit and veggies, and see how it works out.

Final notes:
I consider the workout a success; I lost 10 pounds in 2 weeks and have kept the weight off so far.  I think 2 weeks is a good amount of time for the fruit and veggie diet.  I wish I would have stayed off sugar; I am going to work on my sugar addiction.

Ending weight ~ 125 pounds ~ Lost 10 pounds on fruit and veggie diet!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lynn's Famous Fruit and Veggie Diet Part II

This blog post is a continuation from yesterdays where I documented the first week on my fruit and veggie diet.  I lost 5 pounds already!

Starting weight Week 2 ~ 130 pounds

On week two I continued my diet and exercise regime, and boy, did I feel great!  I had so much energy!  My craving for sugar was gone!  I continued to eat  a fresh fruit or veggie approximately every hour. This included apples, bananas, grapefruits, orange, tangerines, avocados, kiwis, celery, raw green peppers, green beans, broccoli, summer squash, strawberries, blueberries, and others.

Week Two Notes
1. I got used to never feeling full.   It was ok.

2.  No more sugar cravings!

3.  I learned what a pomelo was!  It's like a huge grapefruit!  I ate 2 pomelos this week.

4.  Once during this week I cheated and had a small portion of protein, such as chicken or fish or lean beef for dinner. Mostly fish. Still potatoes or bread.

5. I started eating 2 hard boiled eggs a day at lunchtime.

Week two weight loss was 5 pounds. Yeah!

Ending weight after 14 days on diet ~ 125 pounds.  10 pounds lost in 2 weeks!

Stay tuned for week three tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lynn's Famous Fruit and Veggie Diet Part I

This blog post is going to be a little bit different than most - it's going to be personal.  Tell me what you think about me bearing my soul to the public...

About 15 years ago I went on a fruit and veggie diet and lost 20 pounds, and I thought I'd try it again, and this time document it. 

Starting weight ~ 135 pounds

I'm 5 foot 2 inches and at the start of this diet was 135 lbs.  On a short frame like mine, 135 is uncomfortable.  I had eaten a lot of sweets over the winter and put on 10 lbs and my clothes were getting tight.  There was no way I was going to buy larger clothes for summer!  And worse yet, I was gaining on average a pound a day, and it didn't look like the weight gain was stopping anytime soon. 

I wanted to eat mainly fruit and vegetables, and cut out pasta and bread and my personal weakness, sugar.  I planned on dieting till I got to my goal weight of 115 lbs, however long it took.  I wanted my clothes to fit comfortably, and I wanted to tone my muscles for summer. 

One of my pet peeves is that I don't think people eat enough fruit and veggies.  There's too much junk food, fast food, available, and it's convenient, as we all are busy.  I think we'd all be healthier if we ate a whole lot more fresh fruit and veggies and less processed food.

I should mention that I consider myself active.  When I'm home alone I usually never sit down, unless I'm at the computer.  There's always chores to be done around the farm.  I also work out at the gym and at home, I like to work out. However, I have a desk job during the day, and am recovering from "golfer's elbow", which has slowed me town tremendously from what I used to be.   During this diet I exercised every day between 4 and 5pm. I would run or walk, do the stairclimber machine at the gym, or the elliptical. Also I worked out abdominals every morning at 5:00am for 15 minutes. 

This blog is to document my experience on my fruit and veggie diet.  I ate a fresh fruit or veggie approximately every hour.  This included apples, bananas, grapefruits, orange, tangerines, avocados, kiwis, celery, raw green peppers, green beans, broccoli, summer squash, strawberries, blueberries, and others.

Week One Notes
1.  About every hour I was eating something.  And I was starving all the time.  It was really hard to deal with never feeling full.  

2.  Man, did I crave sugar!  I couldn't handle no sugar!  In the beginning of the week, I allowed myself one small sugar treat, like a Tastycake cupcake, or a cookie in the afternoon.  Halfway through the week I changed that sugar treat to a piece of fruit, like an apple or a banana.

3.  After the afternoon workout I was starving and usually immediately ate an apple or pear or banana.

4.  About every other night I cheated and had a small portion of protein, such as chicken or fish or lean beef.  Mostly fish.  No potatoes, though. 

5.  I drink 3 diet sodas a day and plenty of water, and that's it.

Week one weight loss was 5 pounds.  Yeah!

Ending weight after 7 days ~ 130 pounds ~ lost 5 pounds!

This post is getting long, stay tuned for week 2 tomorrow.  I experienced a surprise during this diet that's worth reading.