Clear Eyes, Smooth Eggs

One week ago the hens in the Big Barn were battling a virulent respiratory disease. Two were near death. Today they all greet me  clear-eyed and hungry. Despite the heat, their energy is back to normal levels.

Ruby was the first to fall ill, and the first to rebound.



Amber, who one week ago was huddled in abject misery, is now back to her curious self.



Onyx, who went broody right when the ailment hit, remained broody throughout. Her eye was swollen shut and she had difficulty breathing, but still she sat in the nesting box. She’s still broody, but now her eyes are wide open and she glares and huffs at all who dare to pass by.



I stopped medicating them with antibiotics on July 17, and so am collecting the eggs, cooking them thoroughly (to inactivate any residual drug efficacy) and am feeding them back to the Gems. I’ll start using them for my own table on the 20th.

A few weeks before the respiratory disease outbreak, I wrote about the wrinkled, ridged and thin-shelled eggs that the Gems were laying. That was likely due to a virus, infectious bronchitis (iB). Sometimes a secondary bacterial infection follows the virus. I think that is what happened here.

In the last week, I’ve noticed a change in the eggs that the Gems are laying.  They are now perfectly smooth and sturdy.  I had thought that the iB was going to be a permanent presence in the flock. It looks like that’s cleared up too.



Tomorrow the Girls in the Little Barn will be 16 weeks old. Some pullets lay their first eggs by the age of 17 weeks (others won’t be until 24 weeks.) I’m going to put wooden eggs in the nesting boxes to give the Girls a clue as to where to lay. Keep an eye on the nesting boxes and let me know if you see anyone trying them out!


  1. This is such good news Terry!
    The Gems are looking so much happier and well – the are so lucky to have you to take care of them.

  2. Oh, Terry, this is such good news! Thanks for the update!

  3. Brilliant news, so pleased they have come through.
    On another subject, the new webcam…..I sent a message saying I couldn’t view it on my tablet, but this morning I fired up the PC and I can view it on there so its obviously something to do with the tablets configuration. I will seek the expertise of a friend to see if it can be rectified. At least I now know what everyone has been raving about! Great viewing! Xxx

    • It’s not yet playing on Kindles. Each platform requires it’s own programming. Quite a job for ITGuy, and he has a “real” job to do first :) Also, some people have truly antiquated systems that it will never run on. And if you don’t have Flash, it needs to be installed. But, glad you can view on the PC!

      • That’s so strange because I have been able to view the new cam on my iPad (no Flash installed) until this morning. But now I’m getting an error message. :-(

        • I have an iPad2 also with no Flash which works most of the time. But not always continuous and sometimes with an error message, too. I have a lot of data stored which may be a problem.
          Beautiful photos of the Gems–wonderful care and treatments!! What a relief!

      • I tried again and was able to view the new cam. Yeah! I do love seeing Buffy and Twinkydink having a nice dust bath together.

  4. Good news! I’m so happy to hear that the Gems are doing so well. They are lucky to have such a devoted chicken mom.

  5. Such good news!! I was worried about the old gals. My pullets are the same age as your’s. I’m a first-timer so I cannot wait for that first egg! One of my gals is getting a pretty great comb going, so I’m sure she will be first.

  6. As you know Terry the leghorn will be the first to lay. I have not seen her on camera for a while, by the way I can’t get the outside cam to come up I don’t know what is up with that, what is her comb looking like?

      • Well, she is named after a model after all. Heaven forbid she be early! Lol. Congrats on the Gems looking so well and perky. Onyx is such a character!

  7. They all look so healthy now! I have a question, if you are not eating the eggs because of the antibiotics, won’t feeding them to the GEMS still leave some left in their system when you start eating them?

  8. Great news! The once icky eyes now look beautiful (except maybe for Onyx, who looks kinda mean at the moment!). Will keep an eye out for anyone testing the boxes in the little barn, too. :)

  9. So happy that all made a full recovery. Wonder what color Owly and Beatrix’s eggs will be. So exciting!

  10. When do you start the youngsters on laying pellets and offer oyster shell? My “babies” are about the same age as yours. I have been getting a lot of tips reading your posts. Thanks!

  11. What is Phoebe’s daily routine? I take a peek every day around 5pm your time, and she can always be found on the Inside Cam view, sleeping under the…feeder? When is she most active? I may have to adjust my office schedule just to follow her in her waking hours. Shhh, don’t tell my boss.

    • During these -way too hot- days, Phoebe sits on the cool concrete next to her ice water bottle during the days. At dusk she comes out to play.

  12. That is very good news! My chickens also came down with what we thought was iB. So far no secondary infections but I am keeping a very close eye on them. One hen still has the strange looking eggs, but they are not as “wrinkly” as they were. I also think one of my new bantam chicks, who are now about 15 weeks old, laid an egg last week. It was a cute, tiny little egg! Kind of early and it too was rather wrinkly and had calcium bumps on it, but none of them are showing any signs of illness. Keeping my fingers crossed!

  13. So happy that everyone made it and are happy and healthy. My girl that has no belly feathers is broody. I have 2 broody but. Only 1 cage. HAve to break them fom broody one at a time.

  14. So happy all the girls are bright eyed and bushy tailed. I’ve been hoping all would be well. You already have a nice assortment of eggs. I’m anxiously waiting for that first blue or green egg. I wanted to tell you about last nite. I was up at 1:30 a.m. calling 911. There was a woman in the field behind the the chicken coop yelling a hair raising scream. All the dogs in neighborhood started barking but ran away from the sound. Cops came and asked me if I had chickens. I said, “yes, as of just recently”. They went and looked out in the field. They said it was a bobcat and they saw the tracks in the mud by the coop. I have never heard a sound like that, but it is one scary sound. Thank God Doc really worked hard to make the coop and run predator proof and the girls were locked up. We keep an open mind because really nothing is absolute. I listened to calls of a bobcat on youtube and it is exactly what it sounded like. Scary!!!!

      • It’s because of your information on this site, the hens are doing fine. It started with building the coop, getting the new chicks and the care. It’s all here. Hencam is all anyone needs to having a healthy flock of chickens. I’m sorry I keep saying thank you, but we are so grateful. Hope it’s a good day for all at Little Pond.

  15. yeah

    Yeah, the chickens look great! Good job. I’m wondering,is Phoebe co habitating with the girls in the Little Barn? i miss observing the bunny hutch where it was….

    yeah,the chickens look great! good job. So I’m wondering,is Phoebe co habitating with

    • Check the InsideCam. She’s spending her days on the cool concrete floor and comes out at dusk to play. She was quite clear that she has no interest in the hutch.

  16. UH oh..a problem when i went to leave my comment..scroll keeps sliding.