Follow our adventures

Follow our adventures as we raise a tiny flock of chickens in suburban Bexley, Ohio.
Our chicken bloggers include Tami Taylor, a Welsummer, and Tyra, a Jersey Giant.
RIP, Betty, Joan, Sally & Peggy.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Welcome home Tami Taylor & Tyra!

It's a cruddy day outside, but we're happy over here at Bexley Chickens because we've finally brought home two new pals for Peggy!

Welcome Tami Taylor (a Welsummer) and Tyra (a Jersey Giant)!

This morning Andrew & I woke up early to drive to Marion & pick them up.  Cathy from Omelet Acres met us (apparently what counts as early for us softened city folk is practically mid-afternoon for Cathy & her husband, Mark!).  They have a lovely farm out there & a bunch of all kinds of breeds of chickens.  You can check out their hens' handy work at the Bexley Co-Op & the Greener Grocer in the North Market -- look for Omelet Acres.


Cathy picked our hens for us (they wisely don't allow strangers back near the coops because we have god-knows-what on our shoes!).  We bought some eggs, too, for good measure because Cathy reminded us that the hens might not lay for a while because of the stress of the move.

They both were very tame & not at all hand shy.  Much cuddlier than Peggy!  We packed them up in recycling bins for the trip home.  Thanks, Bexley Recycling.


I threw down some straw & scratch to make the yard a little more interesting/distracting (per Cathy's suggestion).  Tami Taylor (the pretty Welsummer) seemed like the feistier of the two so I put her in the chicken area first.  I didn't really have a rationale for this - it just seemed right.  Here's Peg & Tami, making their acquaintance:


Just after I snapped this photo there was a tiny, 15 second curfuffle, spurs up.  But Tami seems to have emerged as the top hen & they moved on quickly.  Peggy hid behind my legs for a second and is definitely keeping an eye out for where Tami is in relation to her and the scratch.  She's hugging the rails a little bit, but doesn't seem too stressed out.  She's eating and scratching, so what more can I hope for?  When I added Tyra (the Jersey Giant), it went even smoother.  She just slipped right in.

I'm relieved that this seems like no big deal!  It's certainly 100% easier than when we tried to add Sally to the established pecking order of Peggy & Joan.

Lesson learned: 1+2 is easier than 2+1!

And now, for your moment of zen:



Note @ 10:46pm: This post has been updated to reflect the fact that Tami Taylor is spelled Tami not Tammy.  I know you were all thinking "when will she discover she's made a horrible mistake?"  Someone could've just told me and spared poor Tami nearly 12 hours of embarrassment!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Two new chickens?

We found a woman on CraigsList who lives in Marion (about an hour from us) who has a small flock and about 50 years of experience with chickens! She's going to pick out two young hens to come join Peggy. I think it'll be perfect. We're driving up on Wednesday morning to pick them up: one Welsummer & one Jersey Giant. She said the Jersey has been getting a little too much attention from the rooster lately so I think she'll enjoy coming to live with us. I'm really glad that this is shaping up to be a happy ending for Peggy & hopefully the two new girls, too!


I'll be sure to take pictures to post! In the meantime, here's what the breeds look like:

 

Welsummers lay pretty, medium sized brown speckled eggs.  Jersey Giants lay big brown eggs.  Cathy in Marion says they might not lay for a while after the stress of the trip, but by springtime we'll definitely have eggs again!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Peggy Update: We're keeping her!

Peggy seems to be doing so much better.  Our rubric for "doing better" is "acting like a chicken."  She's scratching in the dirt, eating well, running away from loud noises but then coming up to investigate.  All very Peggy-like.  This is good news!
Her comb is still flopped over which in my limited chicken-vetting knowledge means nutrition deficiency or old.  She's still missing a lot of feathers.  She still seems not quite all there.

With all that in mind, Andrew & I have been talking about our responsibility toward this little lady.  We did have an offer to adopt her out to a bigger flock, but my sense is that, because this other flock is big, each individual chicken is less...valued.  I have a sense that the flock owner has a much more pragmatic approach to hen husbandry than we do.  If Peggy was picked on, I'm not sure she'd be coddled there.  As Andrew points out: it's not a rescue farm.  (Note: even at the rescue farm where I used to work, there wasn't too much time to worry about each individual chicken's emotional well-being, if you get my drift).

But we did commit to Peggy when we got her.  Maybe not in the same way that you commit to a dog or a cat, but in some way we promised to take care of her.  So now what?

We've decided to try to find a pal for Peggy that we can adopt so that she has company and body heat this winter.  Ideally, we'll find a 6 month old who can start laying in the spring as I'm pretty sure Pegster's laying days are through.  We'll get just one so Peggy won't have to defend herself against two.  We'll monitor things to see how they go.  We'll see...

Peggy's tiny addled brain can't understand this decision, but I know she'll be happier staying put!


Incidentally, if you know of a not-too-aggressive older pullet or young hen looking for a home, please let us know!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

City Folks Coop Tour!

This coming Saturday is the City Folk's Autumn Coop Tour!

We're excited that two of our fellow Bexley chicken owners are on the tour!  And another family in Eastmoor!  Lots of reasons to come east on Oct 12 from 1-4pm.  I'll be popping back and forth between the two Bexley houses.  Hope to see you there!

Peggy Update

Peg is hanging on.  I heard her clucking today like she'd laid an egg (she hadn't, but it was nice to hear her doing her normal chicken thing).  We've been locking her in the dog crate in the garage every night -- still not trusting the coop.  She's still looking pretty beat up, but she looks less dead-in-the-eye and less mopey.  We're still not sure what we'll do.

New options:
Get one additional docile chicken to keep her company through the winter.
Adopt her to the guy with the big flock.
Foster her through the winter with Jenni's chickens -- if they'll accept her.

I guess we'll give it a few more weeks and see how things progress.

Poor Peggy.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

and Peggy comes home...

After nearly a week at the vet, several kinds of antibiotics and a narcotic, and lots of hand wringing, Peggy has come home.



She's not looking so hot. And not feeling very good either, if her behavior is any indication. She seems to have suffered some brain damage -- at least that's what we're blaming for her change in behavior*. She doesn't seem quite sure how to eat and mostly sits in the corner. She could still be in shock. We rarely see her drinking, though she must be drinking some because it's been a week now & she's still alive. We're going to give her some time to bounce back and then consider whether or not she might do better in a big flock (we found someone with a big flock who has had success introducing lone chickens. He says with such a big flock, they always seem to find some buddies). I'm still not 100% sure she'll pull through, but she did show some interest in strawberries today. I'd figured that if she didn't even want strawberries, she was a goner.

Well see how this plays out...

For now, she's getting several hours of outside time a day (mostly hiding under a bush, but still...) and getting locked up tight in the garage at night...

Poor Peggy. I can't help but think that Joan & Sally had it better. And they didn't have it so good.

Regardless, we're looking at shoring up the coop. We're still not exactly sure how the raccoon got in, but we have a hunch that it was in a place where the hardware cloth had come a little loose. Maybe peggy will stay with us over the winter & be joined by some chicks in the spring.

There will probably be spring chicks, regardless.


*Someone on the backyardchickens discussion board said that seeming stunned for quite some time after an attack is perfectly normal. I'm still hoping she'll bounce back soon.

It's been a week...

I wanted to update the blog with our recent tragedy.

It's been a week now since a raccoon attacked the chickens. Joan & Sally are dead. Peggy is still hanging out. Andrew posted on Facebook about this, so I'm just going to cut/paste what he said in a few posts here.

The morning after the attack, we thought they were all dead or dying. Andrew posted this:
Sad news to report, friends: Our chickens were killed by a raccoon last night. It was horrible and brutal, but we are comforted by the fact that our ladies had a wonderful life--better than 99.9% of the chickens on the planet--even though their end was incredibly bad. RIP Sally, Joan, and Peggy.

Our friends & family were so very kind about this. The death of chickens is, shall we say, less universally grieved than that of a dog or a human. But people kept the snark to a minimum and were really nice.

The next morning we took Peggy, who had made it through the night, to the vet thinking that euthanasia was the best option. We didn't have the heart to do it ourselves.
Andrew posted:

Thanks to all for the kind words about our chickens. Seriously. Thank you. An update: Peggy is still alive. When I wrote the update this morning, we had dropped the seriously injured Peggy off at the vet's, assuming she would be euthanized. Turns out she was not as seriously injured as we thought. (Sally and Joan were definitely dead. No question.) This poses a serious problem for us, as we think Peggy's quality of life as an injured, single chicken facing the winter will be desperately poor. But nor do we want to euthanize a chicken who doesn't need it. Peggy is spending the night at the vet's, and we will see what's what tomorrow. We want to do what's right by Peggy, but the vet seems hesitant to euthanize her. The troubles continue...

Also, the raccoon came back tonight. Friggin' raccoon.


We were really at a loss. We talked a lot about how to be the kindest, most merciful pet stewards -- especially given whatever we could guess about a hen's perspective on the issue. I posted this on backyardchickens.com message board:

Hi All-
I'm hoping to get some helpful feedback regarding our hen Peggy who was attacked by a raccoon two days ago. We had three chickens, but Joan and Sally died at the hands of that rotten raccoon. We were able to save Peggy who is now at the vets. The vet is not a bird vet, but she's been very kind and has done quite a bit of research & called other vets. I love our vet. She thinks that Peggy can pull through (with several antibiotics and a pain killer). She still has both her eyes and most of her feathers. Her head is nearly bald and she has a few pretty deep puncture wounds on her neck. She was also molting at the time and so wasn't 100% to start with.
Here's the dilemma: We're not sure nursing her back to health is the right decision for Peggy.
She's now an only chicken which seems like a lonely life and we're also afraid she might freeze to death over the winter without anybody else's body heat
This could get expensive, but not too too expensive. We're really only talking about cheap drugs right now.
Peggy is 3 years old. We were committed to keeping them as pets until they died of natural causes -- but maybe that's what's happening here?
Our vet thinks she might be able to place her with a rescue, but, again, she doesn't really know chickens and we're pretty certain that Peggy would need to be completely well before she had any chance of surviving being introduced into a new brood. And here it is nearly October. So we'd be racing the weather to get her back in fighting shape. This is all assuming that someone is interested in adopting a 3 year old, beat up hen.
Our options now seem to be:
-euthanasia
-nurse her back to health and keep her
-nurse her back to health and find someone who will adopt her

We would not be heartbroken by option #1, but don't want to go there just because it's most "convenient." Also, our vet said she's probably not comfortable putting down an "otherwise save-able" hen. Which means we'd have to bring her home and do it ourselves. :(
Does anybody have an advice for us? We're a little lost. :(
-Jessica & Andrew


We got some good advice which you can read here:

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/826505/difficult-dilemma-one-remaining-chicken-was-attacked-by-a-raccoon-and-may-actually-survive-when-is-euthanasia-the-right-choice-what-to-do#post_12076268

Again, people were so nice. Pragmatic, understanding, and kind. We're really thankful.

More in the next post.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Birds-eye-view of the new sun shade

In anticipation of the inevitable heat of July, today I made a sun sail for the chicken run. I bought a couple yards of rip stop from the fabric store & a pack of grommets. An hour later: voila! It looks like it might storm tonight so we'll see how it holds up.


Update: So far so good with the sun sail!  If I had it to do over again, I might even make it bigger.  As it is, it's about 80" x 50".  I'll also probably add a drainage hole/flap in the middle so it doesn't get saggy with rain water.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Roosting!

Our hens have access to a roosting bar which they NEVER use. I'm not sure why -- roosting is supposed to be a normal chicken behavior.  Who knows. But this morning we caught them roosting, just like real chickens!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Baby robin...like tiny, naked chicks

videoA brave robin couple built their nest under our breezeway. The four prefect, tiny, blue egg have hatched and now we have 4 new residents in our backyard! They are such scrawny and naked and cute little aliens.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Henopause: no reason not to have a flock

I ran across this on the NYTimes twitter feed today: http://blogs.seattletimes.com/allyoucaneat/2013/05/17/henopause-and-whether-you-should-have-backyard-chickens/#.UZZYahGMCLM.twitter

Yes, yes, chickens slow down in egg production as they get older (though then don't actually stop) but Andrew & I are happily preparing for our hens dotage. Don't Peggy & Joan & Sally deserve a warm, clean(ish) coop even when they're no longer serving their "purpose"? Their room and board seems like a small price to pay for years of service. Besides, these girls are pets. True they don't sleep in bed like the other pets, but they're pets nonetheless. What do you guys think? Are your chickens headed to the soup pot when their egg laying slows down? Or is the inevitability of the slow down reason enough not to have them in the first place?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spring Chickens

The ladies are excited about spring!  At least I think that's what Peggy was saying when she wouldn't stop squawking this afternoon.  She was even making Moses (the dog) nervous!  He was doing that concerned-dog-head-tilt.
I'm going to have to make something seriously eggy this weekend because springtime means EGGS!  So much for nearly-3-year-old-hens slowing down in production.  You wouldn't know it around here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Old Christmas trees make great run material

Andrew & I were constantly on the lookout for small Xmas trees that were put on the curb after Christmas. We'd pull up slow, I'd jump out and grab while Andrew popped the trunk and in a flash we were off with our free bedding.
Keeping the chicken's run dry (or something short of sodden) in the spring is always a challenge. This spring hasn't been too wet yet, but the rain will come. But this year we have our Christmas tree scraps and they seem to be making a difference. They've taken forever to go from green to brown. A few weeks ago Andrew cut off all their branches and scattered them around and that's sped up the browning process - but even before the branches are completely dry themselves, they provide a surprisingly effective barrier between the muck and our shoes and we don't seem to have the same cess-pool effect that we did last spring.
So far Operation Stolen Christmas Tree is a success!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

10,000 page views!

I just clicked on the blog stats for Bexley Chickens.  We've had over 10,000 page views since starting this blog!  Yowza!  That's a lot of folks interested in chickens.  Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Egg nugget

Today Andrew found this little egg nugget in the coop. We have no idea what it looks like on the inside, but it has a shell on the outside. It seems dense, like an egg. Springtime is always a good time for egg-oddities. I'll let you know when we crack it open!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Book Store Chicken!

Andrew & I spent spring break in Minneapolis (a bold choice) and on our last day we visited the Wild Rumpus, an independent children's book store. It was awesome - really a magical place. But the best part were their pets. The Wild Rumpus has ferrets, doves, chinchillas, Manx cats, a lizard, and a chicken!! An indoor shop chicken! She was a sweet frizzle who let the kids pet her. It was so odd and fantastic!