Monday, May 31, 2010
More Poultry News
In the meantime, we had been raising a ton of starts in the greenhouse, and had a goal of getting them in the ground on Memorial Day Weekend. Mike did some final tilling and weeding, and we planted the greenhouse with tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and melons, with carrot seeds sprinkled throughout the tomatoes. Then we planted a lot of broccoli and cauliflower, because Anouk loves them and they freeze well, and we lined the garden with zucchini, sunflowers and nasturtiums. Then, we went to a party in Olympia.
What were we thinking? We came home to find all of the broccoli and cauliflower demolished, along with some of the other starts. Urrrgh! This discovery was followed by long talks about the fact that we are pretty overwhelmed, and not keeping up with everything. We should have secured the chicken yard and clipped wings before planting the garden. There is so much that needs to be done and the two of us can't manage it all. As always, we talked about packing it all in and moving to the suburbs.
But, we aren't giving up. Things get much easier when Mike is home for the summer. I'm trying to convince him that we can find ways to save money so that he doesn't have to work his after school program, which would give him an extra 3 hours at home every day.
Yesterday, he took Anouk to Seattle to help a friend set up his new chicken coop, and I decided to go to yet another party. I came home late, and closed up the coop, hoping the chickens had put themselves away as they do each night. At 3am, I heard the telltale gurgled screeching outside. My dog Lily and I ran out to investigate, but we couldn't find the chicken. I returned to the house, but heard it again. Again, we searched , until we finally found a bedraggled chicken in a corner of the goat yard, very much alive. I couldn't see her very well, but feathers were everywhere, so I knew she had been mauled. I moved her to the coop and went to bed. (Not to sleep. I can never fall back to sleep after running around outside in the middle of the night.)
This morning, I can see that she is in bad shape. She is moving around well, but is missing part of a wing, and a good deal of flesh from her back and underbelly. She has puncture wounds all over. My friend Paul would tell me to kill her and put her out of her misery, but my inclination is always to try to save animals. They can be remarkably tenacious. In a few minutes, I plan to put her into a separate area to protect her from the other chickens (and that damned turkey) and I hope she'll recover.
We will be completely enclosing the chickens this summer by creating a covered run. So much for free-range. The fact is, after 8 years, we have learned that free-ranging results in a lot of death and mangling by local wildlife.
In the meantime, we lost 3 turkey poults during the first week, until I added some antibiotics to their water. I also put sand in their feed to help move food through their craws. They stabilized quickly, and are healthy and growing fast. They are now living in an enclosed coop we use as wood storage and as a transition area for our young birds. Our two baby chickens are still living in the bathroom. They now fly in and out of their box, so I have to clean the floor periodically.
Our brooding chicken is incubating 5 turkey eggs. I plan to remove them as soon as they hatch because I don't trust the rooster, duck and Tom turkey with babies.
Life on the little farm is feeling a bit daunting at the moment. We need to create better systems and re-prioritize. The green house starts are already doubled in size, so if nothing else, we'll be eating tomatoes and cucumbers this year. Now I'm off to rehabilitate a chicken.