Before I can finish writing one chicken post there’s always something else going on. Where shall I start? Let’s start with the good, follow with the bad and finish with the naughty.
Frodo has resumed laying! This is very exciting, because, now that we have a rooster, her eggs are quite possibly fertile. Mind you, whether she’s let him get to that stage of the relationship yet, I’m not sure. This egg-laying business also seems to be a big deal to the chickens at the moment. It goes something like this. Frodo sits in the nesting box (a different one than she used to). Sam (and now Legolas too) sits near her in the coop like a sister giving moral support. Meanwhile, Mr Rooster paces around in the orchard by himself crowing, presumably something along the lines of “Hey, everyone! My wife’s in labour! What do I do? No! Go away!”
I have been reading up about raising chicks from a broody hen in advance of anything happening. No doubt Frodo will go broody again. Surely. I mean, it’s Frodo. Then again, Frodo’s Law will probably come into play. We are heading into winter and Frodo hasn’t moulted yet. I’ve been collecting her eggs so they don’t get too cold or broken until she’s ready, if she goes ready. I have read that eggs can be stored for 7 days before chaces of fertility start dropping and they should be stored between 10-21degC. I’ve put them in The Little Fulla’s room as it’s the coolest room and it isn’t usually getting over 21 at the moment. We’re up to eight eggs out of nine days now and no sign of broodiness. The golf balls I put in the nesting box to encourage Frodo to go broody haven’t helped yet so I’ve left an egg in there too. We can’t eat the eggs anyway due to the withholding period from the coccidiosis treatment.
Speaking of coccidiosis, it reared it’s ugly head again. Some days ago I found bloody poop in the coop. This was a few days after I had finished their precautionary 7-day coccidiosis treatment. My heart sank. Not again. I don’t want to lose any more chickens! I promptly began treating their water again and have been cleaning out the dirty bedding every day. On the bright side, none of the chickens are being lethargic, but it still scares me. I have been on high poop watch. It’s been difficult to figure out which chicken or chickens have ‘got’ coccidiosis, as I’ve seen them all do normal-looking poops. I suspect Sam might be the bearer of bloody poops as they have been down her end of the coop. She sleeps at the far end of the coop on the floor while the others have followed Mr Rooster into sleeping on the roost.
The problem with coccidiosis is that there are 11 species of it that can infect chickens and some are more nasty than others. I think Gimli and Legolas brought in one of the nasties. The chickens need to develop some resistance to it but at the same time not be badly affected by it, so there’s a bit of a balancing act. I can’t keep treating them all the time. For now I’ll finish the treatment, keep an eye on them for any other symptoms and pray that I can get past this. I have ordered some Baycox, which is a more effective, faster-acting treatment in case I need it.
Moving on to naughty boys… A couple of days ago I discovered Mr Rooster trespassing in the neighbour’s paddock. The Husband and I had chicken-wired most of the fence on Saturday (pause for a ‘yay!’) but I imagine he just jumped over. I know he can jump/fly high despite his large size. The other day The Husband and I coralled him in the run, which has fences about 2 metres high, to try and get his crow control collar on. Well, he wasn’t having a bar of that. Before we could blink he was up on top of the fence and over the other side into the garden. He was quite happily herded back into the pen and hasn’t made any other attempts to get out. He looks after his ladies. The crow control collar remains unworn. We’ll have to do it when he’s in the coop, either at dusk or early in the morning, and it has been hard to work that around The Little Fulla and The Husband’s early departure for work.
It appears that Mr Rooster was enticed over to the neighbour’s paddock by the presence of pears all over the ground. When I discovered him I could see a bunch of pears with chunks eaten out of them. Why did the chicken cross the road? To get pear-faced. Ok, so Mr Rooster had jumped the paddock fence, so I just had to get him to jump back over, right? Ha. I spent a long time trying to get that chicken back over the fence. I herded him. I talked to him nicely. I flapped around. I got down low to encourage him to go high. I tried getting him over or through different parts of the fence. I herded his ladies into a corner and hoped their ‘danger’ noises would stir him into action. I threw them sunflower seeds along the fence to entice him back over. I chased him. I tried to grab him. I started to say words like ‘jolly’ and ‘stupid’ and threatened to eat him; an empty threat, for we cannot and will not eat him. The Little Fulla’s ‘I don’t know if I want to go to sleep’ noises on the monitor turned into ‘I will not go to sleep!’ cries and I had to abandon the mission for a while. I returned. Same story. After more than an hour all-up I had to abandon the mission again to see about a flat tire or two.
When I got back home Mr Rooster was still in the neighbour’s paddock. I enlisted the help of The Husband. I have spoken about his lack of herding skills before. He likes to wave a large stick around instead of using his voice and body effectively. Now there were four of us in the paddock: The Husband, carrying The Little Fulla and his stick of choice, myself and Mr Rooster. I was surprised the neighbours didn’t notice any of this rollicking around in their paddock. Surely they would have noticed the crazy, red-faced woman running and flapping around. Maybe they did, and were quietly watching for entertainment.
After more fruitlessness, I told The Husband he wasn’t needed any more. He was scaring Mr Rooster with the waving stick and he couldn’t stand still to save himself when needed. However, The Husband did contribute one good thing, the saving grace in fact. Why on earth didn’t I think of it? He leaned a plank against the fence as a ramp. Mr Rooster had been jumping up on the wooden fence between the neighbour’s two paddocks, perpendicular to our fence. It would only have been a small effort to get from there over our fence but he couldn’t seem to figure it out. I positioned two ramps, one on either side of this fence and after a couple of goes of gentle herding and giving Mr Rooster space to figure it out, he got to the top of one ramp and over the fence. My sigh of relief was like an earthquake. Mr Rooster high-tailed it off to find his ladies, who had already retired to the coop for the evening. The next day, Mr Rooster did not get pear-faced.