Just Plain Chicken Sense

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I picked this up from Facebook. It might be a slight exaggeration but it has been kinda wet this year.

On this day last week, I was driving in fence post and wiring up a fence while wearing a tee shirt, blue jeans, boots and the ever present hat. Actually I was kind of warm. A week later, if I want to walk from the house to the garage I have to dress like Nanook of the North. Such is life in Missouri  Winter, having arrived a tad late, is perfectly willing to catch up.

Cold weather does not, however, relieve us of our responsibility to provide for and care for the animals. So it was Katherine to our bachelor chicken pad. (For those not up on the news we have two roosters and no hens; a situation I plan to rectify shortly) while her mother and I prepared to feed and water the dogs.

The cats, as always, set their own course. Captain decided to go out on one of her walkabouts, but she did not get past the door mat before she was back in. Book Worm got off Connie’s desk long enough to look out the window in awe and wonder. Bookie is at, or approaching, five years old. Every winter she sees snow and then looks at us as if to say, “See what you did?” Adora, AKA Arrhythmia, continued walking post up and down the basement steps and pleading in a loud voice to get in or out as the moment required.

 

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This is a picture of Book Worm taken before our messing up everything by making it snow again. She thought we had learned from last year.

The dogs, including the stumpy grand-dog, were absolutely delighted with the whole thing. Dogs are among the Good Lord’s most amusing and most easily amused creatures. They wake up in the morning, find freezing white stuff on the ground, and begin to run around frantically kicking up clouds of snow.

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This is Meeko and Libby. If you notice, Meeko is favoring that left leg, but he shows no pain when you manipulate it, so I think it is habit. They want us to come play in the snow. I want to go get a cup of coffee.

I am an Appalachian boy raised in a wood heated cabin with no running water and an outdoor toilet. Forgive me if I never quite got the romance of snow. You go walking in a Winter Wonderland. I will sit in my comfortable chair and read To Build a Fire by Jack London.

Our Chickens are Icelandic Chickens. They are supposed to be good layers; something I will not be able to prove until I get some girl chickens. However, I do believe that a chicken bred to survive in Iceland could survive Missouri with a little bit of help. Since there were only two of them, I built the initial coop very small, and wired a light in it to add heat. I was curious to see what survival instincts the chickens brought to the winter by themselves.

Katherine went out, spread cracked corn on the ground, opened the coop door and put the ramp in so that they could come out. No chickens. Oh they were in there, you could hear them clucking contentedly and crowing occasionally but they were NOT coming out. Our dogs and two neighbor dogs on walkabout were dancing in the snow, all about my feathered Icelandic stalwarts.

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This is all you get to see of Icelandic chickens during a snow storm. Note the small water dish at the bottom of the picture.

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If you look carefully you can see the silhouettes of warm cozy chickens and the heat light there to the left.

Birds were chirping and merrily eating the chicken feed in great numbers. Cats were observing from windows and considering trips outside themselves. Last but not least, idiot people were coming out to look and see if the chickens were going to grace us with a visit, but the two Icelandic roosters were snow no-shows thank you very much.

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Most times we look out and the chicken lot is full of birds because the big ole roosters are inside napping today. However Connie ran them off approaching to take pictures except this one young stalwart.

That was yesterday morning and today. Led by Moony, the youngest, they did venture out for a nice scratch snack. Then Moony flew out of the chicken lot just because he could. A little truth about Icelandic Chickens: besides being smart enough to stay in out of the cold, they can fly really well. At this writing however, they are back in there little coop huddled up to their warming light.

There is the answer to what special gift our Gracious Lord has given Icelandic Chickens to survive in harsh climates. He has given them enough sense to stay out of the cold. A blessing he has not bestowed on all humans, it appears.

In closing, an update on Meeko, our gimpy black Lab. The sling is off of him, and though he is still favoring that left leg, he is out with Libby and doing well. This is not the first dog I have ever seen who, after having a leg bandaged, limps more out of habit than anything else. He has started to put the foot down some. If he does not get it, soon I will wrap his other foot. That is a trick my Grandpa taught me while dealing with his hunting pack.

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and we wish you a Happy New Year.

Ed

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Now We Know

It’s Missouri: if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute. It will change.

Take today, for example. This morning when I got up, the temperature was in the upper 50’s and there was some evidence that it had rained during the night. By 11:00, it was in the 60’s. We were all outside in jeans and t shirts. Ed worked on the fence, and thinks he has it ready for Meeko’s return next week. It was a truly beautiful morning, and a rare treat for December.

By the time Ed and James left for work about 1:30, the wind had picked up and the temperature was starting to drop. By 5:00 it was 38 degrees with a “feels like” temperature of 28. The wind has died down somewhat now, so it doesn’t feel quite so cold, but 37 is still quite a shock after 60.

Meeko is definitely feeling better. He has a lot more energy than he did a week ago. You wouldn’t believe how quick he is on three legs. He and Loki are playing a little, but Meeko still loses patience with him.

Now for an update on the chicken front. Since we got our five baby chicks last summer, and three of them met an untimely demise, we have wondered whether the two remaining chicks were male or female. Of course, we were hoping for one of each.

Since he is older, Sunrise let us know quite a while ago that he is a rooster. If his magnificent comb wasn’t a dead give away, the crowing that started about a month ago clinched it. You know, roosters don’t start out with a full blown crow. It was pitiful really, but now he has found his voice even if he doesn’t have any sense of time. Who said that roosters only crow in the morning anyway?

So, we were hoping that Moonrise was a hen, but as she got older I began to have my doubts. We looked at pictures of Icelandic hens to compare them with Moonrise, and while the hens do have a top knot of sorts, I didn’t see any with what was beginning to look like a comb, even if it is a funky looking one.

In the meanwhile, Sunrise had begun to chase Moonrise around the pen. Ed thought he was feeling amorous, and Moonrise just wasn’t having any of it.

The other morning, Ed and I went out to get Libby. Ed went to the garage to get some dog food and had just stepped back into the doorway when we both heard it. Two crows! Our eyes met and we both said “They’re both roosters!”

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Moonrise the rooster

So, no, I don’t think Sunrise was feeling amorous at all; I think he was telling the younger rooster who’s boss. I don’t think Moonrise is having any of that either. Since we told Kat early on that these first chickens were hers, Ed told her that we could either trade one of them for some hens, or separate them and get hens for both of them. Of course, she chose the latter option. I don’t know how well that is going to work. It will however, mean more fence building for Ed.

Christmas really sneaked up on me this year, but it’s all good. We got the house decorated. I talked Ed into letting me get a fake tree. Since the dogs are in the house, the cats have been camping out in Kat’s room; so the tree has fared pretty well.

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Isn’t it pretty?

Bookworm has decided that she is Queen Cat of the Christmas village though.

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Queen Bookworm

Kat and I made candy and cookies and she and I went to Independence for a gathering of my great grandmother’s family Saturday night. On Sunday evening, we all attended the Christmas program at our church. I love watching the little kids. You never know what they are going to do! It was kind of nice to just be able to sit back and enjoy it.

Christmas Eve is always low key. Since Ed and James are both off, we will have family game night, and end the evening with the reading the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. It’s a tradition I started when my kids were small, because I wanted them to always remember what Christmas is really all about. It’s about Jesus.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Luke 2: 1-19

Ed and I want to wish every one of you a blessed Christmas.

Connie

My Side of the Fence

Well, of the fence story anyway.

On a group Facebook page, I began a lengthy post by saying,
“Nothing like those incidents and accidents that show you where your gaps are “.

It’s true. Although I have slowly and surely learned about different herbs and their healing properties, I found myself seriously lacking in knowledge and skill when dealing with animal emergencies.

The weekend before Meeko went over the fence, I came home from dropping Kat off at church for a youth meeting, to find Loki bleeding. When I brought him into the house, I saw that the tip of his ear had been ripped in half. I wasn’t sure what had happened, but I knew I had to get that bleeding stopped.

My first thought was yarrow. Its the absolute best for stopping bleeding…when the bleeder is relatively still. It doesn’t work nearly as well on a 30 lb ball of fire that is slinging his head away from me every time I try to touch it. I finally got enough plastered on to at least slow down the flow.

Because I didn’t want to leave him in the house alone, I took Loki with me when I went to get Katherine, praying the whole time that he didn’t start bleeding again in the car.

When Katherine got in, I explained the situation and warned her that the kitchen looked like a crime scene because there was blood everywhere! Once we got back in the house, the bleeding started again, and thus began the two hour ordeal of trying several different methods to stop the bleeding and bandage the ear. Finally, Kat got in the tub, wrapped herself around Loki, and held his head while I wrapped gauze covered antibiotic ointment around his ear, folded his ear over the top of his head, and wrapped his whole head in a self sticking bandage.

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Bandage number one

That worked until the next day. Round three involved James holding him in the tub, Kat holding his head, and me applying various things to his ear, until in utter frustration, I covered the tear once more in antibiotic covered gauze and wrapped his ear in duct tape! That held for three days. His ear isn’t pretty, but it seems to be healing.

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Unless you look closely, you really can’t even tell those marks aren’t just dirt or something.

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This side is a different story, but it still looks much better than it did two weeks ago.

It was during those three days that Ed and James worked on the fence and we began to play, “Where did they get out?” with the big dogs. On Thursday, it was already nearly dark when they got out. Ed and James were both working, and I couldn’t tell where they breached the fence. I couldn’t just put them back out there, so I had no choice but to bring them into the house for the night.

So, I had a 72 lb lab mix, a 62 lb lab mix, and 30 lb dachshund/husky mix and three cats in my house. Let the circus begin! Libby decided rather quickly that she did not like Loki jumping at her and trying to lick her face. Her lessons are short and to the point. He still doesn’t bother her much.

Anyway, the next morning, we thought we had found where they got out and made a temporary fix. Katherine and I headed for Independence for a day of girl time and Christmas shopping. As Ed told you, he picked up more fencing posts before he went to work.

When we got home, it was dark. I told Katherine to put the chickens up, and then we would unload the car. I wanted to go check on the big dogs. Since my car lights didn’t catch two pairs of eyes at the corner of the fence, I wanted to make sure they were still inside. In the dark, I could make out Libby’s form, but I didn’t see Meeko. I called for him, but he didn’t come. I shouted to Katherine that he was out and we would need to go look for him.

She was still with the chickens but called back to me that she thought she could see him along the back fence. She got to him first, and told me he was hurt. He was just outside the fence, near the big log.

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A daytime shot of the big log from inside the fence. This is where we think he went over.

He was whining, and carrying his left foot off the ground. Using the lights from our cell phones, we tried to see what was wrong. I couldn’t find any blood, but he was obviously hurt. I thought it was probably too far to try and get him to the house, but I thought I might be able to get him back in with Libby. I took hold of his collar and we very slowly went around to the gate. I pulled a dog house and the food and water bowl where he could reach it, and went back to the house to get my head lamp. More light really didn’t tell me much, but I was afraid he had broken something and was seriously hurt.

Over the next few hours, I talked to Ed a few times and went back out to check on Meeko a few times too. In between, I was combing the internet, looking for something I had that I could give to him for pain. I didn’t have much luck. Maybe I just wasn’t asking the right question.

Ed told you the rest of the story. We have now finished the first week with him in the house, and to be honest, he has done pretty well. He is a sweet natured dog, and he just wants to be with us. Like Ed said, getting hit with that cone is an experience, especially from behind! I think he and Loki have come to somewhat of an understanding. Loki can lick Meeko’s face until Meeko growls and then the game is over.

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I just need to lick this one spot…

After I shared the experience on Facebook, I was overwhelmed by the amount of information, advice, sympathy and empathy I received from the homesteading community. That is one thing I love about homesteaders and similarly minded people. Everyone is willing to help and share information.

So what did I learn in all that? I learned that I don’t know nearly enough about animal care. I learned that you can give dogs Benadryl for sedation (1 mg per lb of dog weight). I seriously wish I had known that when I was working on Loki’s ear. I have learned some wormers and other vaccinations are available at feed stores. When I was a kid, my mom raised collies and we always gave all our own shots. I thought that was no longer available, but I’m going to look into it.

I learned that raw honey on a wound has healing properties, and that flour will stop bleeding too. I learned that I need to get a copy of the Merck Veterinary Manual. It’s pricey, so it will have to go on my wish list.

Remember in Old Yeller when Mama sewed Yeller up after the hogs got him? I’m thinking I need to learn how to do that too.

For most of my life I dealt with veterinarians that took payment arrangements because the important thing was taking care of the animal. I’ve learned that is no longer the case, so I need to be able to drop several hundred dollars at a moment’s notice or learn to do some things my self. I learned that I am not the only one feeling that frustration. I just don’t know what we can do about it.

Connie

Don’t Fence Me In

No matter your good intentions, with no regard to the detailed nature of your planning, in spite of the skill and care with which you execute said plan and in the face of all of your hopes and dreams, you did not consider one possibility. That one possibility will occur and leave you dumbfounded.

Ed’s version of the Law of Unintended Consequences

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This is the point of Meeko’s attack. I estimate this fence is probably, oh, about my age. That corner post is rotted and it all needs to be replaced.

So here was the problem. When I fenced in Libby and Tweedle Dumber (AKA Meeko), I used three sides of the already standing fence. The north side is the oldest fence on the place, but at the time, seemed adequate with the addition of two electric fence wires.

The first unintended consequence was when Meeko, who sometimes seems to channel Houdini, figured out that electricity wasn’t so bad after all, especially when you manage to short out the box by shoving the electric wire into the metal fencing. Did I say Houdini? Let’s make that Einstein.

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A little wider view, to accomplish what I need to I am going to have take out all of the fence from the Corner post to another corner post about 105 feet west of this.

That was still manageable until Meeko pushed on the old fence to where he could simply climb over what once was a four foot fence and a strand of barbed wire. Yes, I suppose it did hurt. At least once he left about an inch and half long cut on a very sensitive part of his lower anatomy. (All males please murmur OUCH!)

So the problem was that the old fence along the north side needed to be replaced, which is going to take some time. I am going to have to cut several small and one very large tree out of the fence line for starters. Answer? I, along with James, put up a four foot fence about twenty feet back from the old one. So that is a hundred feet of four foot field fencing, ten poles and a bag of wire links to attach fence to poles, at a total cost of about a hundred and fifty bucks.

Oddly enough, a hundred feet came up short. Why was that? A hundred worked the first time and it was within a foot or so the same length. Had I been cheated? No. I had not considered the fifteen foot gate installed in the south fence. That problem was solved, I thought, by cutting the standing East fence in the part I planned to replace anyway and stretching it back to attach to the new fence.

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This was my answer, I cut off about a third of their run and put up a four foot high fence. From this angle you cannot appreciate three days worth of adjustments to the original.

The next morning Connie stepped outside to be met by both dogs. Libby is the under-dog: she goes under. Meeko prefers the high flying route, though he will follow Libby under in a pinch. This time they both excelled. Libby dug out at a low point and Meeko just mashed the old fence down and climbed over. This I rectified with an old piece of fencing that we had brought from the old house.

Yes Connie, you were right, we did need it and we really should have brought it with us.

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This is the completion of step one. With poles stapled in and all egress under the wire stopped. At least there.

That started the same routine as always. They got out and I fixed the problem. Then they moved on and found a new one. At first it was all pushing and scraping under the fence. The first time I found only Meeko out I knew I had fixed the underside. Somehow he had gone over. I looked the fence line and found what I considered to be the problem.

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If you look up past my fixes you will see a dark log, I suspect this is where he tried to go over the fence and got hurt.

The next day, I had business in Cameron and made a stop at the farm store to buy four more fence posts. It was a simple enough problem to solve. I would just put in more fence posts. I tossed the post off the truck and went to work. I would do it on Saturday before I was, again, off to work.

That night I got a text message from Kat that said, “Meeko is hurt bad.” I called home, it appeared the old boy had hurt his back left leg. It was not my best night at work. Connie had coaxed and helped him into the lot with Libby and set up a temporary dog house for him. The next time Connie checked Meeko was half way across the lot, the time after that he was at “their” dog house with Libby.

When I got home it was after eleven PM, I got Connie and we went out to the dog house. He was lying there and his whining on seeing me was absolutely pitiful. When I sat down on the ground beside him Meeko placed his front paw in my hand and looked at me like to break your heart. It was as if he was certain I could fix it. Thankfully, that trusting soul did not know how many times in my life I have not been able to fix several different “its”.

We think that Meeko climbed the fence and got his foot stuck in one of the  4 x 2 inch blocks then fell forward over the fence. The result was, we found out the next day, a dislocated left hip.

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At that point all we could really do was console him. In the morning we tried our new Vet’s home and cell and he was not available. As I understand it now he probably was out of state and it was Saturday. Connie called our old vet in Independence and we took Meeko on a seventy mile road trip so he could be seen.

The vet examined him, and thought the problem was likely a dislocated hip, but they would have to sedate and x-ray him to be certain. That meant two nights at the vet’s office. They reset his hip and placed it in a sling. As an alumni of several different orthopedic torture devises myself, this one looks particularly uncomfortable.

I was concerned with how, exactly, we would keep him from chewing off his sling before the necessary two weeks wearing the contraption. When I saw him I realized that the problem was easily solved. Someone appeared to have shoved a lampshade on his poor head, backwards. It works, and it makes a nifty device with which to knee cap Master and Mistress, not to mention sticking it in the girl’s face as she is riding home with you in the back seat of the car.

That was last Saturday. Five days have passed with daily visitations with Libby, trips outside to do his business. Business that is hindered by the fact Meeko habitually lifts his right leg to pee, and he has no operable left leg to hold himself. As an old man who has a bum left shoulder which hurts when he puts his jacket on left arm first, but still puts his jacket on left arm first because “that’s the way I do it”, I sympathize with his plight, but cannot help much.

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True love cannot be thwarted. I suspect Libby really only came for the warm house and the goodies.

 

All told though, Meeko is not having too hard a time. It is mildly interesting that they gave him the same pain medication which the doctor prescribes for my intermittent pains. I am still pondering what, if anything, that says about me. Looking on the bright side I will have at least another week and half to get that COTTON PICKING fence fixed.

When you visit with the Lord, if you remember, lift Meeko up to Him. The vet has said that if this doesn’t work, he will need major surgery to put pins in his hip. That would be bad for him and, frankly, we have no idea how we could pay for that at present, although God always finds a way to provide what we need. I just hate to see the Knot Head hurt anymore.

Ed

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This is a picture taken when Connie came back in from seeing to Meeko’s need for some out door time. I add this picture because it is just slamin’ cute. Also, it is amazing how, with just the right moment, you can see how someone you love very much looked like when they were three.