Archive for February 20th, 2012

Coco Update


Today was a school holiday, so I took Morgan with me to visit Coco. It’s been a week since Coco went to the vet. We had a good long visit with her while we waited to see the doctor. They took her bandage off so I could see her progress. They said they thought she was doing good, but she has a long way to go. She still has a big open wound that is kind of shocking to look at, and I don’t like to look at it too much! Until she gets to where her wound doesn’t need as much attention and rebandaging, and the concern about infection diminishes, they want her to stay.

Coco, enjoying a good head scratching.

At this point, it’s impossible for them to predict Coco’s level of eventual recovery. She might regain use of the injured leg one hundred percent. Or she might have a limp. Or she might have very little use of the leg at all. They do believe she has some tendon damage, but it will be months before we know to what degree that is and how much her leg will recover from the standpoint of functionality. Luckily, the bulk of a livestock guardian’s job entails sitting, staring, and woofing or growling–warding off predators–and she will always have that satisfaction. Overall, she’s very healthy and strong, so we will work with whatever she is able to do–and be happy just to have her! She’s a real favorite at the animal hospital because she’s such a big, gentle sweetie and cooperates with whatever they need to do with her.

The hardest part is always leaving. She knows when they are there to get her and she tries to come with us. (::sob::) I don’t like the leaving part. She will need to stay longer, though. I’ll keep you updated.

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The Long-Awaited Coop d’Etat


Having at last reached my personal critical mass with the chicken situation, yesterday I hosted a “barnyard event” for the poultry population. This was only partially successful, but I’ll take what I can get and live to engage battle another day.

This entire chicken ordeal goes back to moving the chickens from Stringtown Rising and letting them out at the driveway. The chickens decided, why go any further? And they settled in right there to roost on and around the studio deck and parade their poo across my back porch.

I’ve been pondering options, but there’s been a lot going on around here in the past three months. Guess what’s broken right now? The furnace. That’s lovely in mid-February. The furnace repairman, aka my cousin, couldn’t fix it so easily this time. He’s getting me a part and will hopefully be able to get it fixed within a few days. He soothed me that it might not be an expensive part. By the way, tip: Heaters are on sale in mid-February, so if your furnace is out, do not completely despair! At least you can buy a cheap space heater. Back to the chickens.

There’s no chicken house here, and while I’d like to build a chicken house, I’m not in the position to do that just at the moment. I decided to try getting the chickens into the weird stall in the barn. It’s that one that is kind of rustic and funky and I have no clue what it was used for in the past. It’s opposite the three horse stalls. (See the barn tour of the stalls here.)

There are even some kind of odd ledges that would work well for roosts. There’s already some straw on the floor from when I had the sheep in there after we first moved. The chickens have taken to laying recently in some smallish cardboard boxes that I had on the back porch (trash from unpacking) so I put some of them in the stall, put out a couple big pans for feed, and a bucket (low enough for chickens) for water. I shut up the sheep and donkeys in another stall to get them out of the way.

Then I called a meeting with the chickens.

Like I had to call them. They’re always right there.

Morgan helped lead the feathered flunkies.

We were already losing the suspicious ones by the time we got to the barnyard.

Casper was not helping so he had to be shut up in the house temporarily. We got the ones still coming into the alleyway.

One hen hopped up into the stall, and we chased a few more in. Then I managed to grab hold of a few more and toss them in, but in the end, I didn’t get a very large crew. But! I got some of them! It was better than nothing!

I shut the barnyard gate on most of the rest of them. Most of them can fly over the fence, so we’ll see how long that lasts.

I shut the stall on the ones that went in (willingly or by force). I’ll have to mount a series of mini coop d’etats to try to get more in there. My goal isn’t to keep them stalled permanently, but to redirect their internal satellite with some temporary confinement. They got settled in around the house, and I was too distracted and overwhelmed at the time to deal with it immediately–allowing the problem to grow. I’ll have to work that much harder to reprogram them. Eventually, my plan is to build a chicken house in the front barnyard, so directing them there now will also work for later.

Back when I collected eggs for my first hatching, the “chicken lady” told me that when her chickens got rowdy and didn’t go where she wanted them to go, she’d lock up the offenders for three days where she wanted them to be to retrain them. Okay. I’ll try that.

Several of them are still stubbornly up at the house.

I told them, “You will never ever NEVER see another speck of chicken food anywhere but in the barn! STARVE if you want to!”

I suspect that eventually I will get the rest of them to move voluntarily once they accept that the food has moved. I won’t even be feeding Casper on the back porch for awhile. I’m going to have him come in the house to eat, then back out. Chickens love dog food, and I need them to see no hope whatsoever for food unless they stick to the barnyard.

It’s no surprise that the Crooked Little Hen is one of the holdouts at the house.

Crooked Little Hen: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never!”

Should I just set her a place at the table already?

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....

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