PETA/Country Living Etc: My family and I went to the Big Apple Circus yesterday. They are a classic one-ring circus. Old-fashioned. Sweet. Amazing acts. They believe in animals in the circus. They used to have an elephant, until she retired due to old age. They haven’t replaced her. PETA was too much to deal with. But, they have stuck to their beliefs and have a troop of liberty horses, and each year they have a fine dog and cat routine. We thanked them for having animals in the show. They were delighted to hear it. A word of support goes a long way.

Meanwhile, Country Living responded to my letter (new Hen Blog readers can catch up by reading the posts from March 25 and April 7.) Here’s what they said:

Thank you for writing to Country Living magazine. We recognize your concern, and appreciate your insight on the PETA organization sourced in the May 2008 issue. We will certainly take your thoughts into consideration moving forward. We love hearing from our readers, so please don’t hesitate in contacting us again to share your feedback. Enjoy the end of your week.

So, again, a sane word goes a long way.

Buffy Update:  Although the spa treatment had her feeling better, she is not well. A HenCam friend said that he lost two hens with similar symptoms. A necropsy showed cancer. I think that’s what Buffy has. For now, she is eating, drinking, pooping and roosting in the coop with the other girls. Her eyes are bright and she doesn’t have that look of panic, or lethargy, that sick chickens get. So, I’ll leave her be and see how it goes.

The Spa Cure

Buffy is back in with the other girls. She’s fine! Last night, Buffy was still acting unusually placid, and lay on her side, with her butt a bit in the air. But, she pooped twice yesterday, so I hoped she was on the mend. Still, she looked uncomfortable when she walked, so I gave her a pedicure. For a hen at the Little Pond Farm Spa this entails getting having one’s legs doused with rubbing alcohol, scrubbed with an old toothbrush, then slathered with Vaseline. (I’ve found this to be a miracle cure for all sorts of leg ailments and discomforts.) She was given a special meal of a bowl of yogurt. Quite pampered. I’m afraid that Buffy is getting used to this treatment.

By this afternoon, when I looked in on her, Buffy was back to her wary self and stood up when I came into the barn. So, I checked her out of the spa (and turned off the heat lamp) and tucked her into a nesting box with her flock.

It’d be nice if she’d lay an egg. I’d like a tip for all of my services.

Chicken Spa

Buffy is still not well. Wendy, in England, wrote to suggest that perhaps she had a bloated crop. I checked, and it’s fine. She also sent an informative post about egg bound hens, copied off of practicalpoultry.co.uk (which is similar to the backyardchickens forum here in the US.)

I’d already known that a hot butt soak was in Buffy’s future. But, what Wendy’s info told me was that it had to be for 30 MINUTES! How, I asked myself, was I going to keep this hen, who doesn’t like to be handled, in a tub of water for half an hour? The answer was – I didn’t have to do a thing. She loved it! Here is a photo:

hen getting a bath

She also enjoyed being blown dry with my hair dryer. She did not like having her vent poked with my vaselined-finger. I checked, and couldn’t feel a blockage. No egg that I could reach. I also doused her with 10 cc of olive oil. Extra virgin. The good stuff. It’s all I have in the house. I used a syringe that is supposed to be used to give children cough medicine. It works for chickens, too – I opened her beak and poured it down. Once she tasted the EVOO, she liked that too, and swallowed all of it.

Buffy does enjoy her private room with the heat lamp:

sick hen under heat lamp

As you can see, she remains bright-eyed. She’s drinking water and will eat corn out of my hand. But something is seriously wrong. She’ll get another spa treatment this afternoon. Let’s hope it works.

What's Wrong with Buffy?

Buffy, the Buff Orpington, is not acting her normal self. For the last few mornings, she’s stayed fluffed up on the roost and doesn’t join the girls outside. When I put her out, she squats and sits. She took a sunbath while the others were free-ranging in the grass. Now  that’s weird when a hen doesn’t want to leave the pen and look for bugs. She even let me pick her up, and usually she’s a shy bird.

Her behavior is off, but otherwise she looks fine. No discharge, anywhere (eyes, beak, vent.) No signs of lice, mites, or other external parasites. When she gets up, she’s walking fine. Bright eyed. Eating. She’s acting broody, except she’s not going in the nesting box. I have no experience with egg-bound hens (that’s when an egg gets stuck), but I did palpate her and couldn’t feel a thing wrong.

If she’s still like this tomorrow, I’ll isolate her, keep her toasty warm, and even try the hot towel around her rump (just in case she is egg bound.)

Any other ideas?

Country Living Magazine and PETA

I subscribe to Country Living magazine. They have lightweight articles on collecting, decorating and “country life.” So, I was excited to see, in the May issue, a page about backyard chicken keeping. (Do you realize how trendy we are? Little flocks have made it into a national magazine!) But, at the end of the page, was this, “Baby chicks are often purchased as Easter gifts – then sadly abandoned. Lucky ones find new homes, like the cover model of the 2008 Rescued! calendar (peta.org).”

So, I’ve just sent this off to countryliving@hearst.com.

Dear Editor,

I keep a flock of fifteen hens in my backyard, so I was delighted to see Country Living devote a page to what I call the “urban hennery.” However, I was appalled that you gave your stamp of approval to PETA by suggesting that readers purchase their calendar. Under the veneer of animal rights, PETA is an organization that has an extreme vegan agenda and actively works to shut down all farms – not just the factory operations. I know many owners of small, sustainable farms who are terrified (and I don’t use that word lightly) of PETA and the power they wield.

Your magazine has a lot of influence. Please be careful and use it wisely.

Perhaps you’d like to send a comment to Country Living, too?