Eggers Update

Eggers is looking much better! She’s in a crate in my kitchen, and seems quite pleased with the accommodations. She’s bright-eyed. She’s hungry. Manure is normal. No more blood. Perhaps she passed a broken egg and it cut her? Just a guess.

In any event, she’ll be on antibiotics for a week. The usual way to medicate a chicken is by dissolving the antibiotic powder in water, and then putting it in the barn’s waterer. When a contagious bug is going around, this is an efficient way to treat all of your birds at one time.  I don’t want to treat everyone, which is one reason to keep Eggers separate from the flock. However, although Eggers seems to like the doted-on life indoors, but I’m eager to get her back out! I might end up dosing her with the medicated water, using a syringe intended for giving human babies cough medicine. If I do that twice a day, I’m sure she’ll get the medicine in her. It’s a bit of a chore – but better than cleaning out the crate in the kitchen!

A Sick Hen

I’ve been keeping an eye on Eggers. Two days ago she was the last one out of the coop in the morning, which is most unlike her. Yesterday she was the first to go to bed. Sometimes it’s those subtle clues that let you know that an animal isn’t feeling well. But, with no other symptoms, I left her alone.

Today, she looked like this:

sick hen

Eggers is on the compost pile, in the corner of the yard – the warmest, least windy spot. Her eyes are closed, her wings and tail droop. This is a sick bird.

It’s a cold, windy, damp day today. I immediately brought her inside the house. Warmth is the first thing that a sick hen needs. Next, I gave her a thorough inspection. Her vent area was messy and there was a spot of blood. This makes me think that she doesn’t just have a respiratory ailment, but that she has an internal problem. Besides, if she had a contagious cold, the other chickens would also be showing symptoms by now. Usually illness fells an entire flock.

I also looked for signs of external parasites. When a hen is sick, she can’t dust bathe, and so gets lice. It’s a clear indication that she hasn’t been well for awhile. Eggers was clean. That’s good. It means this ailment is new. Maybe I caught it in time.

The next step was to bathe Eggers using some antiseptic shampoo I have for my dog. I want her clean, so that if she does have a runny/bloody vent, I’ll be able to notice it immediately. But, a wet hen is really susceptible to illness and so she had to be dried. My hair is short and I don’t use a blow dryer. But I own one for situations like this. Eggers wanted to perch on my shoulder for the duration.

blow drying

It takes a long time to blow dry a chicken. At one point she closed her eyes and napped.

I then dosed her with epsom salts diluted in water. And then dosed her with a general chicken antibiotic (bought at the Agway.) She’ll be on antibiotics for a week, given in her drinking water. While she’s being medicated, Eggers will be living in a dog crate in the laundry room.

I’ll keep you posted.

Big Egg, Little Egg

I’ve blogged about this before, but it’s worth doing again. Look at what I collected the other day!

big egg

A standard USDA Large egg weighs two ounces. The egg to the top left, laid by Agnes, is 2 1/4. Her sister, Philomena, laid the whopper at the top right. 3 1/2 ounces! Sometimes, these duck-sized eggs have two yolks, but not this one. It was normal inside. Huge, but normal. And, I might add, delicious. The little white egg was laid by Eggers. Only 1 1/2 ounces. Also yummy.

The pointy egg to the bottom right was laid by Marge. She’s an elderly, 6-year old hen. She lays only one egg a week. It’s a standard two ounces, but you’d never find one like that in the market. It’s so long that the carton can’t be closed. Eggs from commodity producers do sometimes look like this, but they’re sorted out, processed, and turned into “egg product.”

Supermarket shoppers expect and want eggs of identical appearance. Not me. It’s much more fun to eat eggs that reflect the personalities of the hens that laid them. Not to mention, far tastier.

Green Animals

This past weekend I finally went to a garden that I’ve had on my “to-do” list for years and years. My husband and I visited the Green Animals Topiary Garden. It’s sited on an historic estate along the beautiful Rhode Island coast.

Some of the topiary were started in 1920. There’s something regal and yet silly about big animals sculpted out of bushes. Here is the centerpiece:

better elephant

Look who’s living at her base!


Rhode Island is justifiably proud of being the home of the Rhode Island Red. Of course, there was a rooster topiary.

green rooster

New to the garden is this handsome fellow, who has been installed, along with a few girlfriends, in what had been an unused greenhouse.


Isn’t he gorgeous? Notice how securely fenced in he is. If I had gardens like these, I’d keep out the chickens, too!

Getting Ready for the Cold

The wooly bear caterpillars are looking for homes under fallen leaves.


They’re not the only wooly things around. Candy has shed her summer coat and her winter pelt is dense and soft. She stays outside all winter and it will keep her quite warm. To keep her extra-comfortable, we’ll remove the shade tarp so that she can bask in early morning sun. She’ll have extra hay to burrow in. We’ll staple black plastic on two sides of the hutch to stop the wind. If a snow storm is predicted, we’ll cover the hutch with a shower curtain. But, Candy loves the snow. You’ll see. She tunnels. She hops. She plays. I just have to make sure that her ears don’t get dry or frozen. I’ve got special lotion for that.


The goats are getting wooly. It’s been cold in the morning and they look like fuzz balls. Here Caper is chewing his cud. He would like to convince me that he needs to get fat for the winter. More grain, please. I don’t cave in, despite how hungry he looks. (Goats are always hungry!) When it storms this winter, the goat boys will be snug in their stall. I’ll keep them out of ice and wet weather, but I hear they like snow. They’re certainly getting dressed for it. We’ll see.


Some of the chickens are molting. They lose their old feathers and grow new ones. Like wild birds, chickens use their feathers for insulation. When it is cold, they fluff up and the trapped air keeps them warm. You do NOT need to heat your coop! But it must be dry and draft-free. The hens will be fed a higher energy ration in the winter (more corn) so that they can keep their body heat up. The goats will be jealous.

The molt does not happen all at one time, and not all chickens molt alike. Some lose all of their feathers. Some go naked just around their necks. Some go into a sulk. Some don’t care. Betsy lost her tail feathers. I think she’s a tad embarrassed. A white leghorn should have an elegant long tail like this:

long tail

This is what Betsy looked like today:

short tail

Don’t worry, Betsy, it’ll grow in soon.