Much has happened since I last posted anything about my adventures in poultry rearing. Back then, I had three chickens, had lost one to the majestic white fox and had yet to witness the miracle of a fresh backyard egg. The journey has been a long one, a battle with some wins and some losses, accompanied with the prospects of only more carnage to come. ‘Tis the life of the urban poultry farmer.
Auraz, Artemis and Brahma were my main crew for a little while. Just before I moved, about a year and a half ago, I had some friends watching the gals while I was working on the configurations of moving them over to my new place of residence. The coop wasn’t closed one night, a very VERY crucial component of chicken safety. My friend woke to the sounds of chicken screaming as my favorite chicken Auraz ran around inconsolably. The assumption here is a possum entered the coop and grabbed her, but with her strong willed ways she was able to fight it off.
The next day I picked her up and found a way to move the three of them to where I was staying. Auraz seemed fine enough until I noticed one of her eyes was missing. Well, maybe it wasn’t missing, but the way her eye was shut led me to believe that might be the case. Upon further inspection, I came to find a large, painful looking wound along her spine, and another under a wing. This was my first time with any sort of serious wound, and seeking to be responsible about the matter I took her to the vet. Yes. I took my chicken to the freaking vet. And I’m not going to lie… I’m pretty sure a vet who deals with cats and dogs most the time probably doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing with a chicken, unless they are specifically trained in working with the farm variety of poultry.
My baby Auraz as she left the vet. Looking pretty damn healthy at the time.
Over 100 bucks later, we were on our way out with a promising bill of health. I was given a syringe and an anti inflammatory medication to administer to her for the next week. If you’ve never had to squirt fluid down a chickens mouth before, let me tell you… it’s kind of traumatic. My poor girl was wrapped tightly with a towel as I struggled to stick this chunk of plastic down the RIGHT side of her throat. And by right I mean left. There is a very specific angle this shit had to be squirt and the pressure of this alone made the activity a time of day I loathed.
It needed to be done though, on the vet’s orders, so I kept on with it. Yet, as the week progressed, my alert and beautiful chicken slowly began to lapse into some sort of paralysis. Lethargy set in and she barely moved. I eventually moved her inside as she painfully started something that reminded me of mini seizures and her shits turned into the consistency of snot. She wasn’t happy and recovery didn’t look like it was in the cards. Nick took her out at the end of the week and chopped her head off, ending the heartache of having to watch my miserable chicken.
The next day I left for work, letting the other two gals out to roam the yard. I returned a handful of hours later. It was mid afternoon. I called to Arti and Brahma. Brahma hesitantly ran towards me, but Arti was no where to be found. This was unusual as she is usually a quick responder to my calls. I walked down into the yard and discovered a very apparent line of feathers spewed amongst the grass, leading underneath the deck. She was obviously donezo.
Auraz, Artemis and Brahma eating some fruit and veggie scraps.
One day a neighbor came over to me as I was getting into my car. She recounted an afternoon where she and her young son were working in their garden. Some loud chicken noises were heard and out of curiosity they looked over the fence to see a large raccoon taking off with Arti. Right in the middle of the goddamn day! From what I had read, I thought most predators were nocturnal. Who knew I needed to worry about this shit in total daylight! I did notice there was still blood in the yard from Auraz’s execution… Nick’s clean up job was a little less than par and was most likely the reason the ‘coon was attracted into the yard midday.
Anyhow, lessons were learned. Specifically… A) Make sure people watching your chickens reeeeeaaallly understand the importance of shutting the coop as the sun sets. B) Don’t waste your money on a vet for your freaking chicken. Call the The Urban Farm Store. They rock and are super knowledgeable. C) If you end a life in your backyard, make sure to properly clean the blood and such, otherwise you might be subject to attracting creatures of the night during the day. Not coo.
More tales of poultry raising to come!