Saturday, July 07, 2012

Chicken Tales

I have so many things to catch up on in this bloggy space! One of the biggest "new" things around here is our little chickies. :) Here's the background story: Ever since before we got chickens, almost a couple years ago, Jim has been interested in getting the Buckeye breed of chickens, which were developed over 100 years ago in Ohio. They are a heritage breed and somewhat rare, and they are also supposed to be a great dual-purpose bird (meat and eggs). Plus they are supposed to be really friendly, and hearty--doing well in cold winters! Well, we had never followed through on this dream of my hubby's, instead getting free chickens from close to home at first, and then buying a few more Golden Comets to expand our flock. We have never had chicks, just full-grown laying hens and our big ol' rooster.

About a month or so ago, Jim got bit by the Buckeye bug again. :) He decided to order some chicks, and they were to be shipped just after Father's Day. Well, the big day came--about 2 weeks ago! And . . . out of 13 chicks, only 5 survived the trip. :( So that was kind of a big bummer! However, we were happy to have at least 5 little chickies to raise--the kids were thrilled, to say the least! (And the company is going to send replacement chicks later in the summer, also.)
Here are the 5 chicks when they first arrived!
The kids love them!!

We have been enjoying these little guys/girls (not sure which they are yet--hopefully they are not all roosters!!!!). One of them was kinda weak from the beginning. He would do weird things like stumble around backwards, had really bad balance, but then at other times would take off and run in insane circles around the brooder, jumping over other chicks and anything in his path! But he spent most of the time sleeping and wouldn't eat.

This is what he looked like after a few days--pretty scruffy!
We were afraid we were going to lose him, too. I knew we needed to do something in order to keep him alive, so I turned to the trusty Backyard Chickens forum (thank goodness for the internet!!!). I started syringe feeding him with egg yolk, and making him take drinks. Poor little thing was so weak . . . he would just lie there with his eyes closed while I tried to get as much yolk into his beak as I could. Eventually after more research, I discovered what was wrong with him--an issue called "wry neck" or "crookneck." He had a mild case compared to some chickens (older ones can get it too), but basically it's a vitamin deficiency that can be cured with Vitamin E and selenium. So we started some new things--syringe feeding vitamins 3 times a day, as well as syringe feeding watered-down chick feed.

Sorry for the odd lighting here--we took it at night without the flash, in the glow of the red heat lamp.
After a few days, he was getting stronger. After about a week of this, he was doing so much better! Growing, running around normally . . . it was amazing! And by last weekend he had started eating and drinking on his own, same stuff as all the other chicks. He is way behind them as far as growth and development, but he is doing great now! I'm so thankful. It might seem like a lot of work to put into a little chick, but I really wanted to try, and now I'm glad we did. He is a fun and sweet little thing, and we named him Sleepy, because of how sleepy he was to start with. :)
This is what Sleepy looks like now!
Now the chickies are over 2 weeks old and growing like weeds! It's crazy how fast they change from looking like little fluffballs to looking like little chickens. :)
All of the chickens (Sleepy is the smaller one in the front)
For a close-up size comparison, here is one of the other chicks--see how much bigger it is than Sleepy!
And now for another chicken tale: We have been dealing with a mite infestation in our chicken coop (which doesn't really have much to do with this story), but hopefully we can get that problem under control soon. Anyway, because of the mites, some of the chickens have not been wanting to go into the coop at night. They'd rather stay out on the roost to get away from the nasty little critters. So a few nights ago, we couldn't find Josie Pye (our Speckled Sussex). Josie is a bit of a loner, anyway--in fact, we have nicknamed her "The Lone Chicken"--so we weren't too surprised. She has stayed out all night a few times before, in a tree (or one time on scaffolding in front of our house!), so we thought maybe she was doing that again. But the next morning came, and we couldn't see her anywhere--normally she'd be clucking and hanging around the coop for food by then. I feared the worst, but figured if something had gotten her, it was no great loss, since she's an infrequent layer anyway, and marches to the beat of her own drum! After a while, Jim had gone outside for something, then I heard him laughing and calling me to come see something. There was Josie, stuck in a Hav-a-Hart trap that we had set to catch the pesky raccoons! Silly bird had spent all night in there, gotten rained on, and never made a peep (which is weird, since she's typically our loudest hen)! It was even more funny, because this is the second time she's gotten herself trapped in there . . . apparently she is not a quick learner. :)

The chickens certainly provide lots of entertainment for us! Hope you enjoyed these chicken tales from our little "farm." :)


Alicia said...

HOW FUN! Loved hearing these chicken tales! That way us city folk can vicariously experience the fun of chickens through you all! :) Keep us posted on "Sleepy" and hope you catch a raccoon before you catch Josie Pye again! :)

Nikki said...

I LOVED reading all about your chicks. That is really neat that you were able to help Sleepy. :) What a neat story. I had no idea that you could feed them egg yolk. I think that is neat.
We too have caught a chicken in one of our Have a Heart traps too. (and a cat) but not the wild critters we hoped to catch.

Mary Ann said...

What fun...I would love to have some chickens (I think it's even legal within the city limits)but as my wise husband would say, now it just not the time :-) I think it fun how you name them all. And it's great that you were able to figure out what was wrong with Sleepy. It's amazing how we need such a balance of calories, vitamins, & nutrients. Keep us posted on your feathery friends!

syds1girl said...

Just LOVED your chicken tales! Sleepy is adorable and I'm glad you were able to nurse him back to health. I would have a hard time eating that one! Such a funny story about Josie Pye. I"m surprised she didn't squak in that trap - knowing Josie Pye!!
hee, hee

Mrs. Doug said...

They are so cute when they are little... I'm just not too fond of them when they get older. You are right though, they do provide lots of entertainment.

We have found that scattering cedar chips in the coop will help to get rid of mites. Also diatomaceous earth in their dust holes helps.

Have fun with your little ones.

1HappyWife said...

Enjoyed your chicken tales :).