the curious way we think of animals

Today Pittsburgh is honoring a lost comrade..in a big way. Rocco the police dog was stabbed in the line of duty and ultimately passed away. He’s getting a big deal funeral, and police from all over the state are attending. People are alternately confused about the expense and trouble, or moved to tears about the story.

I guess I fall into both camps. Definitely moved to tears by the story, but also a bit confused about the big deal from a culture that doesn’t do much normally to honor animals. There was another sad animal story this past week, which was quite horrific. A large “egg farm” caught on fire. No the eggs don’t just produce themselves–there were around 300,000 hens in the barn at the time. Can you imagine? Horrific in death and in life. Apparently this farm keeps 2 MILLION hens. Sheesh. All those little lives. That brings many tears to my eyes.

Especially as I tend to my two spoiled egg laying (sometimes) charges. Knuckles and Bubbles have the cabin fever. They’ve been so cold this winter.

Yo, how's about you turn the heat up?

Yo, how’s about you turn the heat up?

Here they sat one morning last week, up on the roost right under the heat lamps. They were actually shivering! Poor chums. But at 20 degrees they’re ready to party. I head out to the run and they’re at the door waiting to break loose.

It’s very icy on top of the snow, and I can’t actually open the back door of the barn (which I usually leave open so the chickens could return home if they wanted). SO….yes I give them a free ride to the barn (their little chicken heads bobbing, sometimes telling me a tale).

One at a time, I carry them across the frozen yard to the barn, where they can spend the afternoon scratching around in straw and enjoying themselves. Yes I’m that person, some kind of crazy chicken lady. Not sure how it happened, but at 4 pm, you can find me, carrying a chicken back to the coop, hoping that she enjoyed her day out on the town.

I’m happy that a police dog is getting a big fancy funeral. I see lots of changes out there in how we treat our animals. Sure there are many many contradictions in how we do it, but as long as we are generally moving towards a greater appreciation of life, it’s good, right?



my pet chicken had cancer

Liz the lap chicken

As you know, we took Liz to the vet to have her put to sleep. It cost 124.95, but the peace of mind was worth it. I opted for the shot and not the gas chamber. It was nicer for her I think, and it was nicer for me too. She got a shot of sedative and then fell asleep as I petted her. Not that I think all chickens like to be petted (cause I don’t think they do) but Liz was our lap chicken. We knew that she had some kind of terminal illness. She was finding it hard to swallow and it was getting worse.

The vet offered to have a necropsy done. Apparently Penn State will do them for free. Anyhow I got the results back this week…she had cancer of the crop. An adenoma (though I’m not sure if that’s the right thing–reading around it sounds like that’s an ovarian thing?–dunno.) It was a relief to know that it wasn’t worms or something we could have helped her out with. We didn’t get her body back for burial, but I thought the opportunity for learning was important.

While we’ve been sad about Liz’s departure, someone I think has been more sad….
We went away for the weekend after I took Liz to the vet and when we got back, we saw this….

which one of these chickens looks like she just lost her best friend?

which one of these chickens looks like she just lost her best friend?

Yep that’d be Bubbles. We used to say that Liz was Bubbles’ be-otch. The two of them used to hang out. They were best buds. And Bubbles would come over and try to attack me if I was holding Liz. Sheesh! Bubbles is a mean bird.

But she is a pretty one, and I haven’t really posted pictures of the birds when they’re not at their best. And yeesh, Bubbles you looked a mess!

one molty Bubbles

one molty Bubbles

I’ve never seen her molt so fast and so much. She lost all the feathers on her back at once. Weird.

Bubbles' bare back

Bubbles’ bare back

One thing that’s neat about a Bubbles molt–her feather shaft things look BLUE when they come in. Kind of neat. (If you have an aversion to those scenes in the Black Swan–cover your eyes!) Of course, chickens are due for a molt, they haven’t been laying any eggs for a bit and it’s common in the heat of the summer. But they do say that chickens can molt if they’re really stressed out. And I do believe, that she was. Poor girl.

my blue swan

my blue swan

One other finding from the necropsy…Liz apparently had some testicular tissue in her ovaries! I don’t really know how common that is, but it probably explains why she never laid any eggs. Poor girl had a lot going on. She really was one special bird!

bumblefoot, chicken dilemma
June 22, 2012, 9:21 am
Filed under: bubbles, chickens | Tags: , ,

I’ve noticed the telltale black spots on the bottom of Bubbles feet. She has them on both feet, and they’re a bit smaller than the end of a pencil. Poor chum. We took her to the vet. It’s a staph infection and you need to deeply excise the kernel of the infection or it won’t heal. I wanted to get a second opinion. Here’s the opinion:

Bubbles rocking the vetwrap!

She has it in both feet, but one is worse than the other. The vet excised and wrapped it and left us with a bunch of lotions potions and antibiotics. Poor Bubbles. She’s a trooper though, and while most chickens would need to be isolated so they wouldn’t be attacked by other chickens, I have a feeling that for Bubbles, the wrap was an extra sign of her chicken dominance and all the other chickens now want one.

We did our first treatment this morning. Sheesh it’s kind of hard! It doesn’t look very good, I’m hoping we can bring the swelling down. It’s red and puffy and doesn’t look good.

in for assessment

first, a disinfecting soak

After the soak, we put a little potion on it, then re-wrap with gauze and vetwrap. I bought the human kind this time.

new wrap. pretty hard to do. guess it’ll get easier with time.

sure to be a double yolker!
February 17, 2012, 11:29 am
Filed under: bubbles, chickens | Tags: , , , ,

I heard a lot of yelling coming from the coop this morning. Someone was making a big announcement of some kind or another. Who knows what they’re saying but I know it’s time to go and see what’s going on.
Bubbles in the box. She has that dazed look she often has and is just standing there. I figured the egg from the last guy was under her and that she was getting ready to have a sit. So I reached under her to get it. And voila!

a huge green egg!

She had laid the most enormous egg ever!! No wonder she looked shocked. I put it out to compare with the barred rock eggs. I thought the double yolker was a young chicken thing, but apparently the older girls can still surprise themselves! This is Bubbles second egg since she started again after the winter. She laid her first–smallish egg when we were away. Maybe around Valentine’s Day.

chickens nearly three years old!

Some stuff fell in behind a drawer in the kitchen today so i couldn’t shut the drawer. Lo and behold lookee what I found under there!!

5 chickens from ohio

Hard to believe you could put a price on our little flock, but there it is. Five little bundles of joy, all for 2.53 a piece! (2.70 for the mean but beautiful Bubbles!).

Let’s take a look back at the little cherubs as they near their 3rd birthday!! Can you believe it?

There's Bubbles on the left upper corner second from the top.

here's another shot of bubbles with liz and a barred rock butt

liz telling bubbles to sample life outside the box. notice edwina looking for something. she hasn't had her first worm yet!

What a great adventure it’s been. It’s good to remind us of the old days, as we’re contemplating another run west to get another mini-flock this spring! Are you planning on getting some chickens this year?? I’d love to hear about it!

Birds have feelings..
May 5, 2011, 9:01 am
Filed under: bubbles, chickens, edwina, knuckles, liz | Tags: , , , ,

Thanks, some dude at Bristol, for doing a study about chicken’s feelings. Anyone who owns chickens can attest to the fact that not only do they feel empathy, but they feel annoyance, anticipation, etc etc.

Yesterday, for instance, I heard annoyance–poor knuckles got kicked out the nest box so that bubbles (the not so empathetic chicken) could have a go. Poor knuckles stood at the coop door broadcasting her displeasure to all in the turdacres domain. I’ve heard Liz make these distinctive (and screamingly loud) repetitive bu-gahs, and lately have seen a pushed out Edwina do them, and now Knuckles. Is it, oh my god hurry up! i need the nest box!! hurry up! There is definitely a chicken language. I wonder who’s studying that?

arctic explorers–chickens take a walk
February 18, 2011, 5:08 pm
Filed under: bubbles, chickens, edwina, knuckles, liz, spanky | Tags: ,

an icy road but adventure calls

4 set out, liz stays behind

they must stay on the path!

Will they make it? Will they find their goal? What is their goal, anyway?

they find nirvana!

Ah yes, a chance to scratch in the feed room. And,

and a sunny spot for a snooze!

Meanwhile, Liz stayed behind. She doesn’t like cold feet! Here’s what she had to say about it:

Silly chicken. She didn’t like being left alone, but there was no way she was going to freeze her huge toes. So, I ended up carrying her over to enjoy the sun for a few minutes. Spoiled chickens!