Sadly, we have another chicken requiring a bit of treatment. I think having Flink (the roo) in the coop with the girls is proving hard on everyone. None of the chickens want to go outside in the snow, consequently everyone has been stuck inside for a month and a half already.  Flink wants to have his way with the girls, but they are tired of him and inevitably a battle ensues. 

Poor Blanche has had the short end of this stick, being one of Flink's favourites. If you've never seen a chicken mate, it can be a bit of a violent experience if the female isn't receptive.  Poor Blanche is not open to his advances and has suffered a bit of a gash on the top of her head. 

We first put some Blu-Kote on the wound, but it would seem that she's now got a bit of infection - swollen, red, oozing and hot.  Because the topical anti-bacterial medication was not helping her (in fact, the swelling had even pulled her eye lids back a bit), we decided to take more potent action.
While I consulted the Maritime Fowl Facebook group, Laur went down to Annavale Co-op to see what they had available for chicken medications.  Luckily, Phil was there (who knows a considerable amount about poultry) to help Laur with some recommendations.

She decided a penicillin injections were the way to go and we sprung into action.

 Whilst Laur put the finishing touches on our Home for Convalescent Chickens, Blanche and I entertained ourselves by checking out some fish tv.
Blanche came surprisingly easily. Sometimes the chickens struggle a bit when you pick them up, and not being one of our favourites, Blanche hadn't been handled quite much as some others.  I'm not sure if it was because she was feeling quite crummy, or if she simply realized we were going to help her but she came with me quite willingly and was interested in the household goings-on.  She sat in my lap as Laur constructed a wide catch-all to prevent wood shavings from being scratched out of the cage and on to the floor.  She took an avid interest in the fish for a bit, occasionally trying to peck at the small rocks lining the bottom of the aquarium.

The fish were also interested in her, too, often swimming in circles right in front of her.  Both species seemed to find a pleasant diversion in one another and it was a rather amusing sight.  
After the cage was ready, Laur bravely gave Blanche her first penicillin shot - 0.5cc injected into her breast.  As neither of us had ever given a chicken a needle before, we weren't sure what would happen. Would she struggle and flap? Would she try to wriggle free? Would she scream?  We were both tentative and curious.

I flipped Blanche gently on to her back, where she settled nicely and relaxed (apparently this is the "put the chicken to sleep" position). Laur drew 0.5cc into the 20ga syringe and quickly, confidently, injected it into her breast.

She didn't bat an eyelash! What a champ!

Blanche checking our her new pad.

This morning has dawned with a gray drizzle lightly falling.  After checking her a few times last night, it seems that she has passed in relative comfort. The swelling has gone down considerably, the wound has stopped weeping, both eyes are now looking symmetrical and she appears to be bright and perky.  She's had a nice big drink of water and eaten her breakfast. Laur even found an egg!

This afternoon we'll give her another injection, but for now she's resting comfortably and quietly.

She's such a good girl!


Horn hacking...

In retrospect, an Aussie saddle without a horn would have been a better investment - already having been caught and stabbed by it numerous times.  But because budgeting is tight, a different saddle was not in the cards. So, I've had to do some surgery on my current saddle. I'm sure I'll end up replacing the current flap with something prettier, but in the meantime my saddle is much safer.

Because there wasn't a lot of information online about removing a horn, I decided to document my experience so others will have an idea of what to expect should they decide to do the same thing to their inexpensive stock saddles.

So, here you go... hack on, happy hackey hacker!


Happy Solstice and Yuletide!

I'm not much for all the Xian-ness of the season, preferring instead to focus on the message of the ancients - darkness and light, death and rebirth, the cycle of the year and the hope that lives in our darkest days.

To that end, we're tucking into a supper of seafood chowder and waiting for our traditional listening to CBC's production of The Shepherd, written by Frederick Forsyth  and read by Al Maitland.

Take a moment to look around you and think about how your life would be different tonight if you had no electricity.  Tonight I am thinking of those tens of thousands in cities and towns without power on this dark, cold Canadian winter night. Stuck in apartment buildings with no elevator, no heat, no lights, not even a way to heat a can of soup. Please keep all those people in your thoughts. 

So whatever this season means to you, I hope you find rest, warmth, quietude and the company of good friends and family.


Houston, we have an "animal" problem.

Those of you with spouses or mothers will know exactly what I'm talking about when I mention the "something's wrong" voice.  In the past, I have heard it too often for comfort. Thus, when I hear it now it strikes fear into my heart - when I hear the "something's wrong" voice, I immediately get irritated.

This morning, when Laur came in from checking the birds she called to me.  "Please come here. We have a bit of an issue - an animal issue."  I'd checked the birds not 2 hours ago and knew there was nothing serious, and yet there was a tone in her voice, verging on panic, that irritated me immediately.

I sighed heavily and plodded down the stairs, certain that whatever was the matter was going to be neither fun nor clean.

Laur motioned towards the coops. "There," she said, "it's in there. There's a squirrel in the feed bin."

I sighed again, grabbed my rubbers and continued plodding out the door and down the hill.  This is what awaited me.


Day #2

Schools and events are closed across the province for "pending snow". Perhaps we should just stop teasing and shut 'er down for the holidays, yes?

In other news, The Goat goes in for neutering today. 

From the Mouths of Babes:

Last night Laur and I were going over today's scheduled appointments when she mentioned that Finn goes in for neutering today. 
A small voice from near the fireplace piped up, "ME TOO!"
I think what he meant was that he's got an appointment, too. For a tooth extraction.


Finn's Composting Adventure

Finn has been known to jump the barrier on the front deck from time to time. When Laur let the dogs in this afternoon, only one returned.  Neither of us had seen him jump nor had any inkling where he might have gone.

I called out the deck door quickly, but I neither saw nor heard anything. I went to the side door and called again. Nothing.

Just as I was reaching for my boots, a quick flicker of movement caught the corner of my eye.

You can take the dog out of the wild, but the dog can't get himself out of the compost.

Yes, there is a video of the repentant little nutter.



For the record, today is the first day school has been cancelled this year.

Last year my recording system was rather flawed, to say the least, and I lost track. So, let it be known, today is the first snow day!


Home on the range...

During today's inclement weather Laura was inspired to make a wonderful slow-cooked pork roast. Whilst it was percolating in the crock-pot she asked if there was anything I'd fancy for a treat.  Because I've always been rather fond of pull-apart type dessert, I asked her to research some kind of sticky-goodness to satisfy my sweet tooth.

I'm sure you can imagine my surprise at seeing "ass in a bag" in repose upon our kitchen range.

Apparently downstairs in the freezer, we had a few loaves of bread, ready to thaw, rise and bake.  Placed upon the range to do just that, were two loaves of unbaked bread, left to rise and await their fate as my sticky-bun treat! I can't wait!

The hatches are battened.

Seems we have a bit of a blow comin' in. As usual, Laur has the chickens, ducks and particularly the Guineas best interest in mind and we set out for the back to make sure everyone was comfortable.

Laur has been making a warm porridge for the girls every morning. Although today isn't as cold as yesterday, will be around zero by day's end, she likes to make sure everyone is well-fed and healthy. Laur is worried that with winter temperatures the Guineas (named The Kabuki Twins) will become quite weak and has decided to move them into the chicken coop. To that end, I hung the heat lamp in the coop. When the temp warms a bit I'll be back to make a few changes in order to accommodate them - a higher perch will enable them to stay away from the hens, lest they be picked on.  The ducks seem to be quite content with the little duck-house-inside-a-duck-house that we made for them.

It would also seem that the porridge breakfast and extra protein has paid off, as today we had our first chicken eggs!  We need to start keeping a sharper eye on those girls as the two we found this morning were frozen, but now that we know they're coming we'll be paying close attention!

Clockwise from top left:  jugs to take water to the birds; food for the stray kitty;
a spare chicken toy; our first, albeit frozen, eggs; and an empty porridge dish/spoon.

And so, with the fire blazing merrily, a bottle of mulled wine in reserve, meat in the crock, dogs happily chewing on some stinky hooves, a tall stack of books to tuck into and a few crafts on the itinerary, we are going to sit back and enjoy the season's first Maritime storm!


Are you lookin' at me, or lookin' for me?

As many of you know, we have a certain fondness for Raplapla at our house.  A few weeks ago, Frida sustained a life changing injury - she lost one of her eyes.  Needless to say, The Boy was verklempt - admonishing us to send her back to the hospital for treatment.

It's somewhat cost prohibitive to send her back for repair, as she's successfully outlived her 1 year warranty. This morning, we took things into our own hands and performed a rather successful transplant, if I do say so myself.

 Pirate Frida.

20/20 Frida


A couple of chicken vids for your enjoyment....

Flinker Ban Crows his wee heart out.
(...aaaaand it looks like I forgot to delete the credits bit... oh well. It's probably the same on the vid below.)

Hillary and Penny hop up for some treats.

Chickens and chicken accessories.

Well, we finally got some snow and it looks like it's here to stay - at least for a couple of weeks anyway.  The current temp is hovering around -5 which means that snow is melting in the sun and making the roads a bit  slick. But the sun is shining, the birds are singing and I can't help but feel upbeat. 

Yesterday I processed the last three of our male chickens.  We had to put one down a few weeks ago as he looked unhealthy and we managed to rehome one of the Silver Laced Wyandottes.  But the two Black Australorp x Golden Laced Wyandotte crosses and the Chantecler were too much for our small flock.  When the testosterone starts to flow, the flock hierarchy changes. They started by trying to out-crow one another and moved on to chest bumping. One of the BAxGLW was absolutely gorgeous, but was itching to get into a full-on fight with one of the other males, started to chase people around and tearing feathers out of the hens.

Oddly enough, we'd chosen Flinker Ban many weeks ago to be our flock roo. He matured faster than the others, has been crowing the longest and seems to be the most docile whilst doing a good job looking after the girls.  What does "looking after" mean? Well, he makes sure no-one has wandered too far, sounds the alarm when something looks threatening, generally struts around looking good without being aggressive and the hens listen to him.  He's also been really good with the females, and I think if we do hatch some babies in the spring they'll be a decent looking mix.

We've still got all three Buff Orpingtons  - Blanche, Penny and Hillary (with Hillary being my favourite of the favourites); one BAxSLW - Poe; and one Chantecler (Shorty - who seems to be at the bottom of the pecking order).  I think we're going to add one Red Comet from Mooshum's house, just to round out our hens to six.

Laur saw an interesting post on making a toy for the chickens and I think I'll put that together this afternoon.  Might help to relieve their boredom come winter - they've already decided to blockade themselves in a tiny chicken snow-protest.  Although, Penny and Hillary will hop up on the door barrier to receive some treats and evaluate the weather on a day-by-day basis.

 The beginnings of our own chicken toy.

Lucy wondering what I'm doing.

Skiffin and Poppy with the view from the stoop.

 Some new Nova Scotia product to try - Stutz cider made from 100% Nova Scotia apples; Glowine, a mulled wine from Jost; and Smuggler's Cove dark rum, distilled on Cape Breton Island.  I asked Laur why she had such a broad smile walking out of the liquor store this morning. She replied, "How can you not feel good about getting Air Miles from NSLC?"

"Pardon me, but have you heard the good news about our Lord and Saviour, J├ęsus Polito?"
Berwyn might no longer be with us, but his Chickengelical legacy lives on.


Off to Regina

Hello friendlies... I'm off to Regina for a few days to attend the funeral of a very dear friend.  Consequently, there won't be too many updates for the next week or so.