It’s been a difficult couple of days. Good Dog Lily, in her effort to rid the yard of a scourge of blackbirds and a curse of squirrels, has been in chase mode. Her sprints are cheetah-worthy. She killed a squirrel on Friday! But, yesterday, she ripped her dew claw, so today we spent a few hours at the emergency vet clinic getting her patched up. Scooter, left home, yowled and yowled. Lily will be fine, but is presently bandaged up and will be on leash for a week.

Also worrisome, I noticed that Coco was looking tail-down Thursday. On Friday she looked worse and so I gave her a soothing soak in epsom salts and warm water. It perked her up for a few hours, but wasn’t the hoped-for cure, so now I have her in a cozy crate. Yesterday she ate blueberries and yogurt out of my hand, but today she is quietly shutting down. Whatever is ailing her, it isn’t something that I can fix. It’s not respiratory. It’s not an impaction – she’s able to drink and produce manure. She hasn’t laid an egg for ages, so it’s unlikely to be a problem there. There’s nothing that I can do for her other than to keep her comfortable. I think it’s just a matter of time. I have a theory that many gorgeous purebred birds are so inbred that they don’t last long.

But, in the midst of all of this worry and trouble, look at who graced the water feature. It’s a Baltimore Oriole about to take a bath in The Beast’s pond. There’s always beauty. Sometimes it’s a glimpse out the corner of your eye, but it’s there, nonetheless.



  1. Oh no, poor Coco – it really is endless with chickens, isn’t it (I currently have a wheezer, Big Girl, and Gerda with a swollen side to her face, a sting I think, both improving).
    I think you’re right about the inbreeding, especially with show rather than utility lines.
    Here’s hoping she pulls through, but if not, that she slips away in the night.
    And those dew claws are stupid – what are they for except for getting torn half off? Do they even have a use or are they some vestigial nonsense?

    • What are you doing for Big Girl? Are you worried it’s going to spread to the others? And don’t get me started about the reams of breeding “wisdom” passed from breeder to breeder about genetics and line-breeding! Lots of birds bred father to daughter, etc, for several generations, and then heavy culling to dispose of the abnormal ones, in order to get that one beauty who lasts just one show season.

      • Well it would appear that Biggie had just breathed something in as she gave a massive sneeze and snort and is back to normal! So she no longer sounds like someone on their first accordion lesson.
        Gerda’s face has gone back down to normal.
        I’m increasingly thinking I won’t get any more birds from Jane as her more recent ones have seemed a bit feeble – she breeds so many to get her winners and I know exactly what you mean about the temptation to indulge in Frankenchicken behaviour to get just one perfect prize-winner.

    • Look at your hands and then at your dog’s paws. The dewclaws are the vestigial thumbs (or big toes on the hind feet). Yes they seem only to serve the purpose of being difficult to trim, or for getting torn!

  2. Oh it is heart-wrenching to see a beloved hen slip away. Those beautiful bantams certainly don’t seem to ever live long enough for us! My thoughts are with you.

  3. I hope Coco is feeling better this morning. I get so attached to my chickens here, so I understand. We lost Tony(the Light Brahma rooster) Friday.

    A little bit of good news. You are the winner of the HenPals Chicken Nest Box!

    I sent an e-mail to you, but just in case you didn’t get it, please send me an address where you would like the nest box shipped to.
    Thanks for entering.
    Have a great day.

    • For those of you who don’t follow Pam, do check out her blog (click on her name above and you’ll go right there.) Southern farm life is a bit different than life here in New England! But we both enjoy our animals so. Pam’s husband hand-builds metal nesting boxes. I’ll be putting the ones that I won into the Gem’s barn.

  4. I’m sorry about Coco. I hadn’t ever thought about breeding practices with chickens, but I’m sure it’s no different than horses or dogs with in-breeding.
    Here’s hoping your sweet pup feels better soon, and that Coco is comfortable to the end of her days.

    • The difference is that you get only one foal per breeding so you can’t afford to be so extreme. But if you get 30 chicks you can dispose of 28 and still have two that look “perfect”.

  5. oh dear… gentle hugs to your furry and feathered friends… and a big hug for you… all the way from little old England! xx

  6. Good thoughts coming your way Terry. I have learned to be grateful when all my birds are symptom free! I have two really old hens that are not looking good and I just do what you do..keep them comfortable. Hope you have a better day! We have orioles too and I am always amazed at how gorgeous they are!

  7. oh, terry. you have had a tough, rough couple of months with your girls. Sorry to hear coco is not well. It is tough to stand by and know you have done all you can do, and still you can not make it better. it is tough with kids, and touch with animals who have been placed into our care. With luck this morning she is better.

  8. Sending positive thoughts to and your girls. So sorry to hear about Lily and Coco.

  9. Dear sweet Coco, I hope she passes peacefully. We know she’s had a good life.
    I recently took my bantam hen to the Vet. It cost lots of money and she did survive. But she is blind in one eye now, and I don’t think her quality of life is as good anymore. She seems anxious and stays near the coop. I think she probably suffered and survived Marek’s disease. It’s hard to know what to do sometimes. Raising chickens is certainly an adventure.

  10. Just wanted to say, you have an infestation of sparrows. At least a dozen were inside the coop right this minute, enjoying your girls’ feed. Looked like a minature flock as they gathered around the feeder. Nasty infectious greedy things leaving their “exhaust” everywhere your girls live.
    Also wanted to say that I have another reliable item in my own medicine chest for the hens. Molasses. My grandmother and mother both used a concoction of molasses and baking soda in water (about two tablespoons M to 2 teaspoons of soda to a gallon) to countereffect coccidiosis and add nutrients. I’ve used it on weak ducks, too. Hope next weeks brings better things for you.

    • Hi Lucy….Do you give that combination as maintainence or when they are sick?

      • It could be used for either. I had a flock of 35 cockerels to raise for the freezer..of course they had no immunizations as they were production discards. They all got cocci and we used this solution. Lost only one. But it can be used for a “tonic” to help when they need a boost, winter or stresses. Adds sugars and iron, too. Won’t cause harm like some vet meds. I used it for some very weak ducklings…one only could roll on the ground..had to hold it up to drink. Got better very quickly. Do not use long term with ducks and geese though, as they don’t need the extra high protein that hens need.

  11. Hi Terry, sorry to pester you again, but I have another chicken problem. We just received 9 Silkie chicks in the mail this morning. They all look healthy except one who has a leg problem. She can only stand on one leg and won’t eat or drink on her own. We have tried the Band-Aid trick to fix her one spraddled leg, but it doesn’t seem to be working. The other chicks pulled the Band-Aid off of her. Do you have an advice on what other methods we could try? Thanks, Shannon

      • So very sorry you have lost your elegant little white hen. It is never easy loving critters with such short and often drama ridden lifespans! My deep sympathy.
        Back to the mundane:
        Duct tape question – do you let the adhesive touch their skin and if so, how do you get it off?

        • I’ve duct taped feathers, not bare skin. I turn the duct tape into a “band-aid.” Put another piece – sticky to sticky side – so there’s a section of duct tape that is smooth, between the sticky ends. Do that over the wound. For the leg situation, you can duct tape right to her, or, wrap with gauze and then duct tape. That makes it easy to cut off.

  12. Hi Terry, I think your cams are frozen. My cat was sitting on my keyboard so I thought she did it but other sites have movement. Just a heads up in case it is an easy fix. Sorry about Coco. I’m still hoping for good news.