Friday, December 24, 2010

A Pox on Our House

This month has been a rough one. It started off with tons of wind and rain and here it is, Christmas Eve, and we have more of the same. No white Christmas here, just a wet one.

Even for Washington state, these past few weeks of rain have been pretty epic. We've had the trifecta of mudslides, floods and trees coming down left and right to usher in the change of season. The quantity of rain was such that the accumulation of water in our bog grew noticeably every day, to the point where I'd actually classify it as a full-on pond now, waterfowl included.

In addition to the deluge, we also had some ups and downs with our critters this month. Gertie finally, without-a-doubt went into heat and was summarily whisked away to meet again with her fellow, Scout. According to Scout's people, there was a whole lot of lovin' going on over their three day rendezvous, making us optimistic that Gertie is good and knocked up this time. If everything took, Gert's kid(s) should be here around the 8th of May, which means I've got a hell of alot of reading and research to do about goat gestation and birth between now and then.

On a much sadder note, we lost two of our chickens to Bird Pox. Sky the rooster fell ill quite suddenly, and was diagnosed with the pox by our vet. The bulk of Sky's illness and discomfort was not directly related to the pox itself, rather the opportunistic bacteria that overtook him in his weakened state. In the end, we put poor Sky to sleep, as he was having a great deal of difficulty breathing and could no longer eat or drink. The following day, Charlotte, our last bantam hen died in the night. She did not have any outward signs of having had the pox, but before burying her, Bill inspected her and palpated her crop, which he found to be swollen - one of the symptoms of bird pox. We were concerned that our remaining three bantams (Snowflake, Sunny & Mr. Jeffries, all roosters) might also be infected, since they were hatched out at home and never immunized, so we isolated them in an impromptu coop made of baby gates, plywood and cardboard. It was ugly, but it worked. We kept them separate from the hens for three days until it was apparent that they were well (if they ever had been unwell at all) and no longer a danger to our girls.

Losing Sky & Charlotte brought us down to nine chickens, which will be further reduced by three this coming week. The aforementioned roosters have finally come of age and practically overnight became holy terrors. They very nearly killed our hennie, Strawberry, by running her off from her flock and pecking and plucking her incessantly. When a cranky roo threatens your laying hens, it's kind of a no-brainer about who has to go. The boys have since gone back into isolation/death row housing and are none too pleased about it. Little do they know what lies ahead...

We debated their fate. Give them to the guy who took Scout & Harold, give them to someone else, or eat them ourselves? The girls surprised both Bill and I by suddenly seeming to be ok with the idea of us harvesting and eating these roos ourselves. I'm not sure that I'm going to be able to eat a critter who I hand raised, but if the rest of the fam can, then I guess that I'll be roasting Snowflake. ;\

Life just keeps getting more strange/complicated/amazing every day.

No comments:

Post a Comment