Today was gardening day. After a long winter, and several chickens scratching in the bark, the gardens need a little TLC. While I spent most of the day weeding (yes, already), the chickens and rooster were sticking their heads into the watering can to get a drink. Shirley spent at least an hour chasing a particularly wily butterfly who seemed to be juuust out of reach, even with superb stalking skills. The goats have found a tasty new patch of grass in a previously un-visited corner of their pasture. Later, when it got hot in the sun, Gibbs relaxed in the shade on the play structure. Bella spent the day on perimeter patrol and chasing the bunny across the yard. She also relaxed after a run, in the pool we put out for her with clean water. Earlier, she had flopped down in a mud puddle.
All in all, a good day. Even remembered the sunscreen.
Yesterday was goat maintenance day. Everybody feels better after this ritual, except the goats. The wooden contraption is a goat stand or stanchion. Its engineering is simple. Getting the goats into it is not. The theory is, the goat walks up the two steps, puts his head down to eat the goat treats in the box, and stands there eating while we close the rack that prevents him from backing his heat out. Then, while he’s standing there, busy eating, we brush him, trim his hooves, etc.
However…the goats know this routine. They don’t like wearing a collar and being led on a leash, so they scream bloody murder the whole time. In this case, Gibbs has figured out we cannot trim his nails if he lies down. And, even though he weighs about 80 pounds, he can make that 80 pounds feel like absolute dead weight if you try to lift him up.
So, we double-team the goat. I scratch under his chin while Brian trims the hooves. I try to feed him treats so he is quiet, and I have mixed success. It really depends on the goat. The brushing goes a little better, if you don’t mind de-clumping the brush every three strokes and spitting goat hairs off your tongue (that’s what those white clumps on the ground are.) Did I mention they’re shedding?? Ah, spring.
This afternoon, while free-ranging, one of our buff orpingtons was attacked by a hawk. She had ventured down to the tree line, away from others. The hawk saw its chance and grabbed her. But, as is often the case in these attacks, the hawk lost its grip and came away with a talon full of feathers. Bella must have seen it, because she started barking at the chicken laying in the weeds. Bella’s barking alerted Brian, who went over and saw the pile of feathers and feared the worst.
Amazingly, the chicken was still alive, with a puncture hole in her chest and lacerations on her head. He picked her up and carried her into the house to me. I held her for a while, expecting her to die soon. However, she kept breathing – albeit labored. So, I took a couple of Qtips and tried to see what the wounds looked like. It looks like maybe she got pierced behind the skull a little bit as well as on the chest.
I held her wrapped in a towel and talked to her for a while. She is now resting in a laundry basket on a blanket. If she can make it, she’ll be put back out in the coop after she recovers. I’m a little irritated with my roosters, as they are supposed to alert and sound the alarm about predators for the hens. They’re too busy scratching for seeds and bugs, I guess. A few days ago we had a bald eagle reunion in the backyard. I am quite certain that this little tan hen would not have made it out of those talons alive!
The hen made it! A couple of days R&R in a hospital cage, and she’s back out there. Even her eye seemed to heal up. 😀