Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Goodbye Hen

I'm sorry to report the passing of our sweet chicken, Llewelyn. Oliver and I found her dead in the garden, partially buried by Ethel who didn't want to leave her side. "Don't cry Mommy, I still love her," Oliver offered as we collected flowers in the garden for Llewelyn. Pop came over to help dig a proper hole for her.

Oliver delivered a short eulogy. "Llewelyn died so hard. Then we put her in a hole. Thank you for the eggs." Oliver is a big fan of the song "Old Blue."

I'm sad that I wasn't able to save her, but feel some solace in knowing that Llewelyn's last days were so special. I am grateful for pets like her who add meaning, happiness and sometimes sorrow to our lives.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Llewelyn and Ethel

I thought I would give you an update about the progress of our kitchen table chickens.

Ethel, who was attacked by a fox two weeks ago, is still healing from her wounds. She started with three large lacerations, two on her back and one on her leg. The two on her back have healed completely but the one on her leg has slowly been closing. We have been doing daily wet to dry dressings on the advice of some of my nurse friends. It seems to be working but Ethel hates every moment of it. She actually pecks me when I change her dressing. I love her attitude.

We thought Llewelyn was a goner about a week ago. She was hardly able to move and would only drink when we syringe fed her. She has been on Bactrim for about a week and a half and has slowly regained her strength and balance. Both chickens live in the garden during the day, eating our vegetables and bugs, then move back to the kitchen table in the evening. Llewelyn and Oliver have a great time together. I took some pictures of the two of them this morning.

The morning started with a back massage.

Then Oliver sang to the girls (um, I think this might be something he picked up from me).

Oliver and Llewelyn went for a walk.

Oliver decided to take Llewelyn to his trampoline.

Llewelyn waited patiently while Oliver jumped.

Next the pair went over to the tire swing. Llewelyn enjoyed watching more than riding.

A little tree climbing?

Then back to the garden where Llewelyn helped Glenn (by eating bugs).

Friday, August 7, 2009

He's Got Skills

Oliver won first place at the Mid State Fair for his Crab photograph. He got a check and a nice blue ribbon. I got a disgraceful honorable mention for my Thirsty Bee photograph, no ribbon, no check. Oliver wanted to know why he won and I didn't. "You must be the family photographer.," I said. Oliver took this information and decided he really is the best photographer. He now wants to use my camera and is often showing me how to take good pictures. This week Oliver may have finally convinced me that he has superior photographing skills. I might just listen the next time he tells me to get closer to my subject or advises me to get down in the dirt to capture a mushroom. Here are our fair photographs:

Below you will find an example of an Oliver versus Mommy shot. I was trying to take a good picture of Llewellyn in her cage for the blog.

Mommy's Shot:

Oliver's Shot:

As you can see Oliver's photograph is interesting and conveys more emotion. My picture focuses on the cage while Oliver's picture captures the essence of the chicken.

A few nights ago Oliver and I heard an owl in one of our oak trees. We went outside and quietly sat on a bench in the dark waiting to photograph the owl. Bats started flying close and for the hundredth time I tried to get a shot of one. They are so fast and impossible to see. I was excited to get this picture of a bat. Can you see it?

Oliver then asked if he could try to take a picture of the bats. I rolled my eyes and handed my camera over. He held the camera up took aim and as the flash went off we could both see a bat light up in the sky. "Oh my gosh! You actually got one!" We were both laughing as we ran to the house to download his picture. I just love it. I'm only a little jealous.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

How My Dining Room Table Turned into a Chicken Infirmary

Llewelyn should have been a rooster. She was sent with our order of chicks as a “packing peanut” Barred Rock (or Dominique?) rooster. We found homes for our roosters one by one but couldn’t seem to part with Llewelyn, our smallest and spunkiest rooster. Finally when our rooster Carlos began developing his waddle, we knew Llewelyn was a hen. And what a fine hen she has been. She is by far the best flying insect catcher and the most comfortable around humans. She will often lounge with me on the back deck or sit with me on a bench near the coop. Yesterday, when she jumped directly on my lap, I knew she wasn’t feeling well.

Last time we had a sick chicken (about a year ago) our local veterinarian thought we were crazy to spend money trying to save a chicken. The chicken ended up dying and we realized the vet visit, while expensive, did not help at all. After our chicken passed away, Glenn found a website that reviewed chicken examinations and treatments for sick poultry. We did an exam on Llewelyn and found that she was dehydrated and seems to have lost her balance. I took her inside and began feeding her an electrolyte solution with a syringe (which she will happily drink). It was during one of her feedings that I happened to look out the dining room window and see a fox running toward our chickens.

“FOX, Glenn, FOX,” I screamed as I ran out the back door toward the chickens. Glenn was right behind me as we reached the chickens. We were able to see the fox stop and stare at us for a moment before he started running into the bushes, one of our chickens in his mouth. Glenn ran toward Pumpkin’s enclosure to let him out as I continued after the fox, screaming like a maniac. Before Pumpkin could even begin chasing the fox (Pumpkin is not fast enough to actually catch a fox, don't worry), our chicken Ethel stumbled out of the bushes and ran past me toward the house. I couldn’t believe the fox dropped his prey, our oldest and sweetest chicken, Ethel.

Once Glenn was able to catch her, we recognized that Ethel’s injuries were grave. She had three large lacerations and we could see her muscles and bones. I immediately called our local emergency vet clinic and was told that the veterinarian who sees chickens was about to leave, sorry. I called another emergency clinic and was told that the veterinarian did not see chickens.

Desperate, I decided to fix the chicken myself. We drove down to the clinic where I work as a midwife, and I gathered a few supplies. Glenn and Oliver were my assistants and we slowly put Ethel back together. She was amazingly brave and never struggled.

We have two chickens on the dining room table, one injured, one sick. Please send healing vibes to Llewelyn and Ethel, two wonderful hens.