The Ash Tree

Day 264 of 365

Today, Ron had to fell a magnificent Ash tree in the chicken yard. He had to move the fence to get to it, which was just epic work, but he prepared and then studied and then consulted and then thought before he took it down. It was a very tall, very magnificent tree. It was tragic to lose it, but the poor tree had two giant branches at the top, and that plus some strong winds, we think, caused it to split right down the middle of the trunk. And the split was deep. It was going to come down at some point soon–and maybe on both the fence and chickens.

I could tell Ron was being really thoughtful about felling this tree. First of all, he has deep love and respect for trees as I do, but Ron also had an accident felling a tree many years ago. It was serious. It was tree to face! He still has scars all over his face and shoulders from the accident. He probably doesn’t want me to tell that story, but it seems important to share because it will help you understand my anxiety about today.

Yesterday, Ron told me he had everything ready and had a plan for taking down the Ash the next day (today). He was going to do it right after breakfast. I worried about it some, though I try not to. I realize he’s very careful when he does anything. We are both careful humans. This comes with pros and cons, of course, but it is who we are. Today, it was a pro. I knew he was well prepared.

Still, I worried a little when the friend who was going to help him this morning was sick and unable to be here. Then, when I asked Ron if I could help in any way and he said it was too dangerous for me to be out there without any experience, I started to worry a little more.

But he was out there a while before he started working on the tree, and I had grading to do, so I just went to work. I was engrossed in my essays when I heard an epic crash. The sound of a tree of that size falling is just epic. I could feel the BOOM. I jumped up with my heart in my throat. In the seconds it took me to get to the window, my mind raced back and forth between “he’s fine, I’m sure” and “but what if he’s not?”

When I got to the window, I put my hands up on it, just kind of out of this anxiety, and then I saw him, holding his chainsaw in one hand and, with his other gloved hand, holding up a big thumbs up! He knew that would have scared me, and he looked at me and smiled. And I felt so much gratefulness in that moment. I hit my hands on the window and smiled back.

When I went out to explore the tree, it was heartbreaking. I knew the tree was in bad shape with the split, but it was devastating to see it taken down. Such a beautiful tree. But Ron and our son will cut up and split that Ash, and it will keep us warm for two years Ron thinks. I am grateful to that tree for the warmth. It will be appreciated every winter day.

And I had an idea. I just looked it up and have been reading about how to regrow a tree from a stump. Surely it will sprout. I read regrowing the tree takes a lot of patience, but we definitely have to try.

Snow Shoveling…with Friends

Day 253 of 365

The snow was real snow today, not ice-snow, and the sun was out making for a lovely day. It was a good day to shovel snow, especially when you have such good friends who hang out with you while you shovel.

This is little Arwen. She is, perhaps, my favorite chicken. She’s the last baby from Rooster and is the great grand baby of Poe. She reminds me a lot of Poe. She’s smart and chill and observant. She hung out with me the whole time I shoveled in the chicken area, and then, when I went to shovel the deck, I saw her roaming around the whole yard, just walking on top of the snow. Isn’t she beautiful? And do you remember her from this summer? She was the little chick who would sneak under the fence and steal watermelon from the big chickens this summer. I had never seen anything like it. Her boldness was surprising, and I wondered what she would be like as a grown up. Really, really smart. That’s what she’s like as a grown up.

This is Dvorak and the back side of Piatigorsky. My little crew I raised this summer mostly sticks together still. I think Dvorak was the first one out of the coop today. Being cooped up with Rooster all day long was stressful. Dvorak completely understands that Rooster is the boss.

Every time I shovel this path, many hens will follow me out there. That’s Arwen in the front, and Poe Jr. Jr. is behind her.

These are some of the trees in the chicken area. They look so beautiful to me in the snow. We have lots of oaks, some maples, and some birch. We also have a lot of pine and fir trees.

You can see we are starting to get a little pile of snow. After a winter of no winter, I don’t mind the snow. The chickens, on the other hand, are not fans.

This is little Arwen. After I finished shoveling, she just took off around the whole property all by herself. Here, she is exploring the garden, which looks so empty in the winter time.

This is on the other side of our property where the ducks live and the dogs work and play. Bairre can’t be trusted with the chickens yet, and he’s barely able to be trusted with the ducks. We have had setbacks in the last week. It’s a reminder that Great Pyrenees do have to be taught not to chase the little things. Boudica is rebelling and not helping, which is unfortunate because she’s the best teacher, but today, Ron told her, “If he gets into the ducks, I’m gonna be grumpy at you.” I am not even kidding. Bairre did not get into the ducks the whole rest of the day.

And here she is. I think she’s the most majestic being I have ever known. Isn’t she beautiful? I think I ask that all the time, but I just marvel at her.

And last but not least, here comes Bairre. He was just playing with his stuffed gnome in the snow, but I was making such a fuss over Boudica being so beautiful. This meant Bairre had to come assert his cuteness. He is definitely majestic too.

Winter Came All at Once

Day 252 of 365

I am so tired. Not only did I spend the afternoon shoveling some very heavy ice-snow, I couldn’t sleep last night because I could hear the ice coming down, which made me fret. Mainly, I was fretting about what kind of day the poor chickens and ducks were going to have. Today was miserable weather here in our part of Maine. It was ice then snow and then ice again–all_day_long.

I shouldn’t complain because we have had a very, very mild winter. I was just seeing a farmer friend call this year in Maine “the year without a winter.” Well, I am sure my farmer friend must have jinxed us because winter came today–with force.

The poor ducks stayed out in the terrible weather all day. I took them straw and tried to give bring their water and food to them, but that just upset them. You can’t move the food bowl. It is wrong to move anything. Everything must stay the same always and forever.

Thankfully, I was able to clean out their duck house in all this mess and tuck them in tonight with a bowl of warm peas and a house full of fresh straw. They seemed happy after a long day.

The chickens, mostly, just refused to leave the coop, so they sat in there and got on each other’s nerves all day. I delivered treats once and stayed for a visit. I also visited off and on while I shoveled the snow.

The cutest story of the whole day relates to Ruby, Juliet, and Kate–mainly Kate. This morning, despite the terrible weather, Ruby and Juliet took off out of the coop front door while I was bringing in the food. Later, I realized that, somehow, Kate also got out, but she may have gone out the back door and then flew over the fence. I didn’t check for tracks, but she does that kind of thing all the time. When she was young, she used to trek through the snow all the time.

Anyway, there was nowhere for the driveway crew to go today, except under Ron’s camper shell for his truck. So, all day long, I took treats and food and water to the camper shell. There, under the shell, Ruby, Juliet, Kate, and a red squirrel hung out all day long. They all seemed to be pretty happy with the arrangement.

But in the late afternoon, just as I was getting ready to go out to shovel snow with Ron who, by the way, shovels snow like a miracle, I thought I heard someone at the door. Turns out, it was Kate. She was ready to go into the coop, and she knows to come to the door to get us.

I took this picture of her at the door because it was the cutest thing. If we had a doorbell down low, I have no doubt that she could ring it. Isn’t she wonderful?

I sure hope tomorrow is a better day for the chickens. I told them when I tucked them in tonight that tomorrow would be better. I hope I didn’t tell them a lie.

Egg Business

Day 239 of 365

Our teenage son is a very big boy. He’s about 6’4″ and is a foodie. He loves scrambled eggs and can eat four eggs in the blink of an eye. I told him one day that, when he grows up, he will have a hard time finding eggs as good as our eggs. “You’ll probably have to pay about $10 a dozen for similar eggs, but you should pay. They are worth it.”

Our eggs are very, very good. They are not registered as organic, but our chickens are fed organic food and scraps, and when I have to administer any kind of non-organic medicine, I withhold the eggs. Our chickens also get to free range in a small, fenced pasture and are treated as well as we can possibly treat them. We work hard to make sure each chicken is happy. If someone is unhappy, we try our best to figure out what to do to improve the situation. Sometimes, as in the case of Ruby, this means they get sleep in the garage all summer. Or, in the case of Juliet, this means they stop the car when I come home and get treats.

You can taste happiness. I didn’t fully understand this until I tasted the difference. Our eggs are so good because our chickens are fed high quality, organic food–and they are, overall, quite happy. I mean, they have some complaints at times, but they let me know about them. One time, a few years ago, we had to buy eggs during the winter, and I made the mistake of making scrambled eggs. I thought I was going to cry. The eggs were terrible and tasted like depression. I swear, I could taste the sadness.

In contrast, the other day, I made some scrambled eggs for breakfast for our son. Right now, scrambled eggs are a rare treat because we do not add light to our coop to give our chickens a rest during the winter. On a good day, we will get three our four eggs at the most. On a bad day, we will get just one egg. Anyway, it’s been a month or two since I have had scrambled eggs, which I also love, so I snuck a bite of the eggs. They were so good I thought I was going to cry.

I am going to be so glad when the hens come online again. We’re getting close. The light is coming back.

We have wait lists for our eggs. I have a base of very kind and loyal customers, and then I have some customers who can only get a few dozen during peak season when we are overrun. Still, they are so excited about getting them. I was teasing Ron one day that I am going to be like The Lost Kitchen of eggs and will have to have a postcard lottery to see who gets some of our eggs. I wish we could have a little bigger farm and raise a few more chickens for eggs. I love teaching, but the conditions have gotten pretty rough over the years. I would love to teach a little less and chicken farm a little more.

But there is not really in profit in it, I think. Still, I am wondering if we were able to scale up if we could figure out how to make it profitable. It helps that our chickens get to eat bugs and grubs and worms in the summer and fall, but organic feed is still very expensive–and getting more expensive all the time. And you really can’t charge too much more than the grocery store because, otherwise, people will just buy eggs from the grocery store. Of course, right now, grocery store eggs are outrageous because of the avian flu this last year. When our eggs come available again, $5 a dozen for organic eggs is going to seem like a deal for sure. However, the high costs of eggs should not be permanent. Hopefully, we won’t have an avian flu outbreak again. If we do, then all bets are off for all of us anyway.

One of my New Year’s resolutions this year is to finally start keeping records of eggs sales and compare it with feed costs. I figure I have to also consider how many eggs we eat and imagine those costing $5 a dozen as well because, if I had another chicken coop, all of their eggs could be sold.

There’s the labor, but I am not going to worry about that because the chicken work is one of the joys of my life. Ron worries about me cleaning the coop all of the time, but I try to tell him that I generally love it–well, maybe not in the summer, but you don’t have to clean your coop much in the summer anyway. I love to clean the coop because I love to make it cozy and nice. I don’t decorate our coop like a lot of people do because the chickens somehow manage to poop on everything. But clean and cozy seems important. Today, I cleaned it for the second time this week, and because our local grocery store was out of peppermint oil to deter rats and mice, I ended up sprinkling the entire coop with cloves. That’s another story for another night though. I guess this is just a long way of saying my labor for those chickens is good for me.

The real struggle we would have in trying to have a little egg farm is that we let our chickens rest all winter. Obviously, no eggs means no sales. You can add light to your coop, but after having a few hens, including my Poe, die from ovarian cancer, I am determined to let our chickens rest in the winter.

Anyway, I have a little notebook, and in just about a month, we should be back in egg business. I’m going to keep track of it all and see where we are at the end of the year. Ron used to dismiss me when I would ask about expanding our egg business, but I can see he has some curiosity about it. It will be interesting to see how the numbers add up. We could be losing our shirts, but I don’t think so. Either way, it will be good to know.

The last post of 2022…life on the farm

Day 236 of 365

Today, on this last day of the year, I can’t believe I am 236 days into this project. It was so hard at first to write every day, but now it just seems like the natural thing to do–and it helps me so much. Writing our farm stories helps me remember gratefulness. I am honored to live with the animals we keep, and I am grateful for the little plot of land we borrow from the Earth.

I wanted to write something wise and magnificent, something about the magic of life on the farm and the wisdom I have gained from humbling myself in the face of that magic. Instead, I have a story about rats.

Do you remember this fall when I wrote about the cutest rat in the world who had moved into our chicken coop? Do you remember how I said we were going to pay for our decisions later? Later is now.

We are doing everything within our power to keep every speck of food clean and picked up, but these rats are smart. They have learned to live amongst the chickens. Traps do not work. The rats have made friends with the chickens. This is new. They used to stay away from chickens–and us.

Tonight, I had an encounter with an adorable rat. If it is not the rat I saw making doe eyes at me this summer, it is at least a relative. I went to get the food and water and close up the chicken coop tonight, right before sunset, and I saw it–scurrying in its unnerving way.

I screamed. A few chickens responded, but they seemed to indicate I was overreacting. So I went to the front door of the house and told Ron the rat was in the coop–and it was just looking at me. Ron said, “oh, yeah?” and went on about his day, seemingly indicating I was overreacting.

So I went back out the coop, determined to at least be scary to the rat, so it wouldn’t try to get food while I was gathering everything up.

I stomped. The rat did not move.

I banged the wall it was near. The rat just wiggled its nose (the cutest little nose ever, I might add) and looked at me.

“You are cute, but you can’t stay!” I told it. They have eaten several holes in the coop that Ron has had to repair. It didn’t budge.

So I got brave. I went over right in front of it and kicked the wall above its head. The pink nose was still there. I saw some eyes.

At this point, I was very worried about how bold this rat is. I turned around because I heard something behind me. It was just Arwen. She was sleeping on the floor tonight, which she hasn’t done in forever.

“You should get up off the floor, Arwen. We have rats right now.”

Then, from behind me, the rat ran right across the middle of coop, right past Arwen. Arwen was unfazed, as if to say, “Oh, that’s just Jerry.”

Two things are going to have to happen. I think we are going to have to get a new, special feeder for the chickens, and as soon as it’s spring time, Ron and I are going to have to re-work some of the coop. For now, I am both worried about the rats and completely impressed with their brilliance. They stash food during the day and have adapted to living like chickens.

I guess speaking of humbling myself.

***

Happy New Year to all of who follow this blog. Thank you for being on this journey with me. I hope you have a wonderful new year full of love and wonder and good farm food!

photo credit: Tim Zankert, Unsplash

A First Egg

Day 235 of 365

Yesterday, I saw one of the Salmon Faverolles in a nest box, and I got so excited! I have been waiting and waiting to see what their eggs would look like. Their eggs are supposed to be a light, creamy color. For last couple of weeks, I have noticed the nest boxes were wrecked, and this is always a sign that someone is about to start laying.

I was hopeful for a Salmon Faverolle, as they are the oldest of our summer babies, but last night, even after I saw her in the nest box, there was no egg.

This morning I was outside doing a safety check of the chicken yard when I heard an awful lot of talking and carrying on from the coop. It was a different kind of talking from a voice I didn’t recognize.

When I went to the coop door, I saw one of the Salmon Faverolles at the water dish. She was drinking and carrying on about something, just talking, almost complaining but not quite. It was more like “Can you believe I just did that?” Truly, she seemed tired and a little concerned and a little relieved all at once. I didn’t have the heart to tell her she was going to be laying an egg several times a week for the next few years.

Of course, there, in the nest box, like a golden egg to me, was a tiny creamy egg, so perfect. I thanked her over and over. She just kept carrying on. When I left the coop, she was still drinking and talking. I guess she had been in the nest box a long time and got thirsty. What work!

Oh my gosh, I am thankful to chickens. How humans do not worship the ground their little feet walk on is beyond me. What a gift! What a beautiful egg!

And these are my swans…

Day 234 of 365

I spent this morning’s tea making streamers out of yarn and fabric to run across some areas in our chicken yard. They have lots of places to duck and cover, but a Cooper’s hawk is crafty. Hopefully, the streamers will deter in those areas. Next, I will hang old CDs, but I don’t know how Ron is going to feel about this. He thinks they look terrible, but they seem to work, which means I don’t think he’ll complain too much. In fact, he said it was kind of cool to see the return of “Crystal’s prayer flags.”

I noticed he checked on the chickens a lot today too. Thankfully, we did not see the hawk, but it will likely be back.

It was so cute when I went out to hang the streamers. The chickens just watched and watched. They are all so out of sorts after the attack yesterday. They had all been in the coop, refusing to come out all morning, but when they saw me standing out there for a long time, a few came out to visit.

It was great to spend so much of my day with them. They are interesting animals, and it’s fascinating to me to watch how each of them handles the stress of yesterday so differently. Rooster is the most worried, of course, and then there are some who are more bold and will take tiny trips out of the coop, even when most everyone else is still in hiding. It turns out that one such chicken is one of the new Salmon Faverolles. I saw her running around in the open, all alone, one of the time I went out to check on everyone this morning. I told her she was taking a really big risk, so I stayed outside extra long that trip, just to see what she was doing. She started hanging out inside the raspberry canes, which should provide some good hawk protection, so I tried not to worry about her too much.

I’ll be watching the chickens closely and frequently for the next few weeks, so I’ll have great stories, I am sure. Every time I would come in today from a chicken check, I would have a story to tell Ron.

If he gets tired of my stories, he doesn’t let on. I am thankful.

Also, the chicken catalog came in the mail today! I haven’t ordered from this hatchery in years, as we either hatch our own or a try to get from a local breeder, but I am searching for some heritage Rhode Island Reds. Sadly, there were none in the catalog, but there were so many other wonderful pictures and descriptions of chickens. Plus, there is a chicken supply shopping section–and they started having short articles about chickens! Every year, when the chicken catalog comes, I browse through it dreamily, as I always learn about new and interesting breeds.

This year I noticed for the first time you can buy swans! I told Ron, “Oh my gosh! You can buys swans from the hatchery catalog!”

Ron asked, “Why would anyone want a swan?”

“I want a swan, like in the dream version of myself.”

He had no response.

“Like, if I ever won the lottery, I would have swans, and they would have their own little pond and fancy house. And when people would come to visit I would say, ‘And these are my swans…'”

I am sure Ron is thankful I don’t actually play the lottery because, if I ever found myself suddenly rich, I would have a giant animal sanctuary, and instead of working at my jobs, I would take care of animals all day.

I can’t remember his response to my swan idea, but he knows I know how much work a swan would be, so he mostly laughed. Still, he seems suspicious that I might one day fully embrace my inner Hagrid.

A Hawk Attack

Day 233 of 365

When I went outside this afternoon to collect eggs and give the chicken coop a little clean, I noticed almost everyone was in the coop. I asked them what was going on, and I wondered if they had seen a hawk, though no one could confirm.

I set about cleaning the nest boxes and spot cleaning the coop floor, and during the process, I discovered there were beautiful little snowflakes, perfect and large enough to see, on the fence posts and gates. “There is beauty everywhere,” I thought to myself.

After I finished my tasks, I went back into the house to take a shower after my coop work, but I had an urge to get my phone and try to take a picture of those snowflakes. I was outside standing near the house with my back toward the chicken area when I heard the screaming.

I turned around just in time to see a hawk landing on a chicken. I think it was one of the Salmon Faverolles, one of my little muppets, but I am not sure. All I know for sure is that I saw the giant wings land on somebody and I went into panic mode. In a second, I tried to decide which gate would be the fastest and somehow decided on the gate that is frozen shut.

When I realized I couldn’t get through, I just started screaming and banging the fencing to possibly scare off the hawk and then beat on the gate until it opened. By the time I made it around the coop, the hawk was gone, but I was in time to see the ensuing panic. People were running for the coop door. Rooster and a few other hens were under the new dust bath area. Rooster was hollering and hollering, but, of course, he is no fighter. At least he started getting everyone into the coop when I came around.

Dvorak, our other rooster, was like “every rooster for himself,” and I saw him running into the coop just like the hens. I guess our giant rooster, Dvorak, isn’t a fighter either.

Thankfully, everyone seemed okay, but I started to realize that I wasn’t sure how long it took me to get through the fence and around the coop. What if the hawk got someone small and carried them off? The hawk looked really big to me. I started to worry about our smallest chickens.

I went into the coop and started looking for everyone. Quite a few people were missing, noticeably Arwen. She’s the youngest, still a bit of a baby girl and a small bird. After checking the coop, which was difficult because birds were huddled together, terrified from the attack, I ran outside to the driveway area to check the chickens who hang out in the front–Juliet, Ruby, and sometimes Kate and Bianca. Under Ron’s pickup, I found Juliet, Bianca, and Beatrice, which was interesting because she was not out front before the hawk attack. Apparently, she flew over the fence during the attack. I didn’t know Beatrice was a flyer. Desperate times, I guess.

I found Ruby in her dog crate by the garage, hiding her sweet little head in the straw, and I found Kate hiding under the canoe. But no Arwen.

So it was back the coop, back to the pick up, and back to the coop, touching each chicken to make sure I could see their faces. Calling her name. No Arwen. I started to cry. I was just about to go to the house to ask Ron for help, when I checked under the pickup one more time. I got down on the ground and was looking super carefully under the pickup, calling her name, and then above my head, I hear a chicken voice. I looked up, and there was Arwen, sitting on some part of the pickup, and looking very stressed about all of it. I was so happy to see that chicken’s fluffy little cheeks!

After walking around and around, I thought about how we need to start feeding the crows because winter is a hard time on the hawks. They are extra hungry. The hawk was a Cooper’s hawk. It’s always a Cooper’s hawk. They are wicked smart and so determined. I am sure it will be back. I had better make some streamers to hang around the coop, and I had better get the crows back. I will also be hanging out a lot tomorrow.

Still, the crows are the best hawk protection you can have for 24-7 protection. They raise their babies in our trees in the spring, and then we are safe from hawks. We do our best to keep the coming back, but in the winter, they don’t hang around as much unless you feed them. I was just reading about the very best things to give crows to get them to move in. I had better get on this tomorrow.

In the meantime, I am very sore (from breaking through the gate) and so tired from the experience. When I finally came inside and told Ron about it, he wondered how it is that I am always the one coming upon hawk attacks. I do not know, but I am grateful. I was too late for the first attack years ago, but I have been fortunate enough to stop the rest of them.

You feel such a burden though, so afraid to leave them. I stood outside for a long time this evening while they went to bed. I let them all play in the driveway with me watching. The cautious ones never came out though. Rooster stood at the door, watching me and watching the other chickens with such worry all evening.

That rooster is my people, isn’t he?

photo credit: Joshua J. Cotten, Unsplash

Just a winter day on the farm…

Day 232 of 365

Today, we slept in a little, but everyone was fine. The ducks were still good. The chickens hadn’t starved. Everyone was safe and warm. And we slept nearly an hour late. We won’t make a habit of it, but it was so lovely. I have been tired.

Today, Rooster seemed better. He wasn’t standing in sick chicken position at all today. He was out and about. I heard him crow. I brought him in tonight for more medicine. I realized that I am also giving him homemade bread every time he comes in, so I am honestly not sure if the medicine helped him or if it was the homemade bread. Ron mills some of the wheat for that bread from very healthy organic wheat. And then he certainly puts love in that bread when he bakes it. He considers it an art form. I do as well.

I have seen that bread seemingly heal a dying duck, so I have to wonder at least a little about that bread. Maybe, just in case, I should keep bringing Rooster in at night, even after his medicine in finished, and he could just have a little homemade bread. Maybe that will give him strength.

Today, Mary Jane also came outside for treats. We were very, very fortunate in that last storm. He had some trees come down, but none on wires or fencing. We didn’t even lose power. And, to make things even more wonderful, the rain melted the snow, which means the chickens are happy running around in their pasture. The weather was fairly warm today at about 30 degrees, and Mary Jane came out for a little bit. I was so happy to see her.

Today, we got five eggs! On Christmas Eve, we got just one. And then two on Christmas. And then three yesterday. Those six are in this picture. Aren’t they beautiful? It was extra lovely to get five eggs today.

It seems like the light comes back so quickly here in Maine after the Solstice. Maybe the chickens think so too.

Rooster Is Sick

Day 218 of 365

In the last week or so, for morning chores, Ron has been doing the chickens while I do the ducks. Then, he’s been putting the chickens up at night as well, as he’s checking for rats. We had a big hole in the coop last week that he had to repair. I still deliver treats to the chickens and collect eggs, but I haven’t been seeing them as much as usual. Tonight, while Ron was burning tree branches (there is a lot of burning that has to happen in the woods of Maine, but that’s another story), I decided to go ahead and put the chickens to bed. I couldn’t believe what I heard. It sounded almost like a bear growling!

It was my sweet Rooster, rattling from a respiratory infection! In 2019, our entire flock came down with an epic respiratory infection. And I mean epic. I was a nurse for months. Everyone lived, but Rooster has always had struggles with relapses, especially when it gets cold. I should have known to check on him more when it got so cold this week, but I didn’t. And our boy sounded terrible.

Rooster doesn’t like to be touched, so I generally try to respect this. Plus, I have to admit that I am a little afraid of his spurs. We do not trim them unless they get too long for him to get around because his spurs are his weapons should he have to fight a predator. Also, he’s really big, so much bigger than the hens, so that makes me a little nervous too. But when I heard him rattling so terrible, I went over and scooped him up.

He didn’t protest very much. I told him what I was going to do, and, thankfully, he seemed to understand and settled down. I brought him into the guest bathroom, which is also our animal care center, and I got out the good stuff–the antibiotics for respiratory illnesses. I try to never use antibiotics. I know they are VERY much overused in general, but he sounded really, really terrible. I didn’t want to waste any time getting him better. Hopefully, it will work quickly.

He was a very good patient. I put the medicine in the syringe and leaned down in his face. I tapped the syringe on his beak and told him I needed to put this in his beak. He opened a little; I squirted it in; he swallowed. I don’t know how smart this bird is, but I wish a scientist could study him. He has to be way up there in the range. It was like he understood exactly what I was going to do and was very helpful. I will wonder forever how much language that boy understands.

Anyway, I took the opportunity to just check him everywhere. Thankfully, he has no mites, but he has a little wound on his comb, so I treated that and gave his feet and legs a good rub with moisturizer and rubbed some Vet RX (kind of like Vicks Vapor Rub for chickens) around his little nostrils. I also just treasured the opportunity to touch his feathers and admire the beauty of this animal. I never get to see him up so close. He’s magnificent. His tail feathers are shiny green/black, and I was reminded of how roosters really are just beautiful creatures.

We wrapped it up with some treats, which he ate from my hand. He never gets a chance to do this when I feed treats to the whole flock because some of the hens are just too bossy and take it right away from him. It was really cool getting to hang out with him some, and I wished he could just stay inside until he got better. But can you imagine a puppy and rooster in the house?

I went to check on him just a few minutes ago, and he sounds a little better already. I hope he gets better soon, but I am looking forward to spending the next several days giving him medicine and treats every night. It will be great to spend some one-on-one time with such a magnificent creature.