Saturday, September 29, 2012

Chloe's close call and Tommy update

In the last post I mentioned that Chloe the hen wasn't doing well.  Chloe was our lead hen.  She was #1 at the top of the pecking order before.  But now, not so much...

She had an almost white brittle comb that had flopped over, and her waddle was light-colored, too.  Her waddle and comb should be bright red.  She wasn't eating or drinking.  She stood off by herself all puffed up.  From the looks of her, I didn't think she was going to live much longer. 

I quickly brought her into the bathroom inside the house and lavished her with food and water and she had lots of rest time.  She chose to nest in a small space between a short trash can and the sink cabinet.  She spent much time in her improvised nest spot, and eventually laid a very weird egg shell mass.  I didn't get a photo of the mass; I wish I had photographed it now.  It was about 4 inches long and rubbery.  We cut it open - it was made of layers of rubbery egg shells.  My guess is that she was having laying problems and that mass got stuck inside her reproductive system and she couldn't pass it.  She's starting to go through the chicken change of life, and she isn't laying much if at all anymore.

Once she laid that egg shell mass, she immediately became perky and started doing better.  Her comb and waddle started turning red again.  She walked around much more and stopped being all puffy.  Two days after she was well enough to return to the flock. 

Many of our older hens have stopped laying now.  We have 15 hens and get 4 eggs a day.  These older hens will live out the rest of their lives here on the farm in peace.  They have become like pets, I cannot put them down just because they stopped laying. 

Chloe on the road to recovery
Tommy update ~
 This week I went to the local animal shelter to see if our missing stray cat, Tommy, may have been picked up.  I seriously doubted that he'd be there, Tommy never wandered far from the farm.  I asked to see all their cats to look for Tommy.  I was led to room after room of cats. All the cats were separated into different areas for different reasons.  The cats were all calling out to me, begging me to choose them.  I spoke to them all.  I saw cats that were in the sick room, with runny eyes and noses.  They didn't feel good and didn't care about being friendly to me.  I saw cats that were awaiting medical attention, who were in cages in the hallway outside the clinic.  I saw the cats who had just been picked up and brought to the shelter, they were scared and hiding.  I saw cats who had been there a while - they begged for attention and rolled upside down so I'd laugh and reached out their paws to grab me.  I visited the cats in the front room, a room where the lucky cats get to roam free and people can enter and play with them.  I saw the kittens, some kittens were so tiny they needed a mama cat, but they had none.  There were so many cats of all kinds and colors, it was amazing.  But - there was no Tommy. 

I left the shelter with a respect for the people that run it and work there.  There were so many cats.  And I just looked at cats.  I bet there were just as many dogs, but they were all totally separate from the cats.  Everything was clean and the place was so organized.  It broke my heart, I couldn't work there, but I have a renewed respect for the caring people who do work there.

I also checked the chicken section - no chickens at the shelter right now!


Carolyn said...

So sorry to hear about Tommy :(
But glad your chicken is better :)

Chai Chai said...

I think our chickens will have the same retirement here, not good farming but we aren't in it just for the money.

Dog Trot Farm said...

I am so sorry to read that Tommy has gone missing. Don't give up on him, he may still return. I am glad to know Chloe has improved, chickens are truly amazing. I have senior ladies in my flock too and I would never think of getting rid of them, they have served us well and have earned their place on the farm. Enjoy the day, Julie.

Farm Girl said...

Oh well, I had the same experience visiting a shelter looking for our cat. I find that really interesting about your hen. I am so glad she is doing better,

Lisa said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your cat. I feel your pain. We can't keep barn cats very long. They disappear in coyote land. I find it so strange that you guys have a chicken section at your shelter. It's a good thing, but around here people have no problem finding someone to take their wayward chickens.

Razzberry Corner said...

Carolyn Renee - Thanks!

Chai Chai - I just can't kill my hens. That's just the way it is.

Julie - It's hard not to give up on Tommy. We'll see.

Kim - You searched at a shelter, too? Shelters are so sad.

Lisa - The chicken area of the shelter is for chickens that are picked up by animal control. We live very close to Wash DC. Sometimes people in a more urban area get chickens and keep them inside their apartment (think school kids hatching eggs at Easter, chicks go home with kids, parents raise the bird like a cat inside the house) or use them in cock fights. Sometimes people cage hens in a shed or mudroom just to have fresh eggs. And for some reason the animal ends up in the hands of animal control who takes it to the shelter. The chickens in the shelter don't come from farms, that's for sure. That's why I take pity on those birds - they've had hard lives. Except for my Penny Hen - she had a spoiled life.


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