Monday, 30 June 2014

All Over

It's all over, Steve bravely put Wilma out of her misery this morning.  She had a bit of time in the yard yesterday morning with her buddies, she walked slowly with them in the sun for perhaps half an hour, ate two worms that I threw at her feet, then lost her strength and sat in the hidey hole nesting box for the rest of the day, then I brought her back to her warm box in the bathroom for the night.  She went downhill overnight and couldn't stand up at all this morning and was virtually comatose.  She was so terribly thin and weak, poor girl.  I'm glad her suffering is over from what was presumably something devastatingly awful inside her.

Goodbye my feisty girl, with the embarassingly stumpy tail.  xx

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Hanging In There

Bloody bird, she is keeping me guessing and I am leaping between whether to tend her restoratively or palliatively!  She was so ill yesterday, I am staggered that she is still alive.  She has started drinking a lot of water since last night, positioning herself right next to the bowl and she was looking a little better this morning, actually stands up briefly whereas yesterday she was too weak.  So I don't know what’s going on and what to think.

At the advice of the poultry forum I've been writing to I have just wormed them all, although they think she has a lot more going on, probably a tumour or infection in her reproductive tract, this apparently is fairly common in the crossbreeds designed to be every day egg layers. I didn't know that.  The main lady said that if this the case then she could linger for months, going up and down, and will probably not lay any more eggs, and most people put them out of their misery.  However, and I told her, I cannot do that.  The tiniest spark of life and I just want to nurture!  

So, she is still very sick and is far too weak to leave her box in the bathroom.  She hasn't eaten for at least 48 hours that I know of but she is now drinking again, she weighs nothing.  She has "talked" to me a couple of times today, a gentle little warble sound whereas she hasn't done that the last two days so that tells me she is feeling a little better.  But I can't keep her in a box forever.  So I don't know what to do!  One more day I keep saying, give her one more day and see how she is.

And on a side, unrelated note, don't let your cat mooch in your walk-in pantry when you have a mushroom farm sitting on a shelf.  It makes a giant freaking mess when the said cat tries to climb into said mushroom farm (which as it turns out was a dismal failure anyway, not a mushroom to be seen) which falls off the shelf and compost goes everywhere!! :-)

Friday, 27 June 2014

Not Looking Good

Yesterday I decided to return Wilma to her chookie friends as I was worried she might be pining for them, but I really wasn't sure if that was the right move as the weather is windy and rainy.  She seemed  to be much the same, standing quietly in the yard near her buddies, or sitting in the corner.  She ate and drank a minuscule amount that I could see. I locked them all in their house which is nicely insulated and cosy for the night and decided to see what awaited me in the morning.

As it turned out I couldn't have chosen a worse night weatherwise, the wind howled and raged and the rain came down, so I was very glad I had shut the doors of their house to keep that weather out.  I  found her in the corner of the chook house this morning barely moving and so very weak.  I cuddled her in my arms for the next half an hour and she sort of melted into my arms, seemingly exhausted, head resting on my arm, eyes closed.  I've just put her back in the box in the bathroom with a hot water bottle under the straw and the heater on.  She's sitting in the corner, eyes closed, occasionally not even holding her head up, beak resting in the straw.  I think we're losing her.  The next hour will tell, either she'll have a big sleep then perk up or she'll slip away.

My problem being inexperienced is not knowing if I have just a miserable hen who is suffering with her moulting, or a miserable hen who is very sick, and what sickness. I have been suspicious of an internal infection all along, of which nothing much can be done but who knows.  I have read so much in books and on the internet in the past few days that I am exploding with confused knowledge but not knowing what is right.  All I can offer is warmth and concern now.

I'm sad.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Wilma Update

Well, Wilma is still with us, but her condition hasn't really changed.  She's up and down a bit but unfortunately the ups are not staying as ups.  She is eating the teeniest amount of food and at least is drinking a little now, which was worrying me more than anything. 
I brought her inside again last night as she seemed very listless again yesterday afternoon, she stays to the outskirts of the group, sort of going through the motions of eating but not actually doing it, picking bits up disinterestedly then dropping it.    She seems very hot so I wonder if she is running a temperature but maybe that is normal temperature, I have never carried a chicken long enough to judge their temp.  
I do wonder if this is related to the shell-less eggs which may have been her.   She hasn't laid anything since she got sick.  I gather an oviduct infection is one reason for this so I guess that is another possibility.  I am also worried she has something like egg peritonitis which is when the eggs rupture internally and slosh around. She hasn't laid any eggs since this started four days ago and she is only doing the tiniest amount of poo.
I definitely think dosing her with aspirin makes her feel a lot better, I've done that three times now but I am reluctant to do it too often. The photo of her below is about half an hour after a dose of aspirin, she is looking much better, has had some food and seems to have a bit of strength.  But she doesn't maintain it, mind you she must be weak from lack of food.
Oddly I can often persuade her to eat (and quite enthusiastically too) earthworms and chopped greens in small quantities, it's the usual chook type food like pellets that she is not at all interested in.  Maybe she has a sore throat?

I've put a heater in the bathroom now, I figure her energy needs to go into healing herself rather than trying to keep warm.  She perked up enough this afternoon to go back with her buddies, I figured a few hours in the sun with her mates might be therapeutic.  She sort of slowly followed the others around for a while, watching but not doing much.  She did the occasional scratch around but again, just going through the motions rather than eating anything she found.
I've just brought her back to her nursing box in the heated bathroom for the night again, she doesn't seem too bad but I am hoping another night in the warm will help. It's a mystery.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Poorly Wilma

Wilma the chicken is poorly.  I noticed 2 days ago that she wasn't eating much, then yesterday morning she looked decidedly under the weather - listlessly pecking at food but just dropping it, not drinking, lethargic and keeping to herself.  I checked on her regularly during the day and things didn't really change.  She was quite happy for me to hold her, which is most unlike her normal feisty self, almost cuddling into my warmth and sitting very docilely while I examined her.  She seems to weigh not much more than a sparrow poor thing.  Her crop was empty so it wasn't an impacted crop, and her abdomen was soft so being eggbound didn't seem to be the issue.  My inner vet is telling me that she may have some sort of infection inside, and perhaps she has been the one laying shell-less eggs and it's all connected somehow.

Anyway, towards dusk last night when it was getting very cold outside, I found her sitting alone in a corner, and I was worried the other girls, who are very congenial most of the time, might decide to pick on her.  So, I rummaged around in the shed and found a large cardboard box, lined it with sawdust and straw, and brought it over to our house.  Where to put it though?  In the end I put it inside our shower recess, figuring that a) it would be easy to clean up any mess, and b) Lord Neo couldn't get to her. Then I went and collected Wilma and settled her into her box for the night, to give her a chance to rest.  She just sat down in the corner and basically didn't move.  I was almost scared to look this morning in case she had died in the night. 

Nope, she is still with us.  She seemed a little better this morning, was up on her feet eyeing off the top of the box as if to make her escape.  I had done a lot of reading during the evening as to what could be her problem and what to do for her.  The issue was to get her eating and in particular, drinking again, and the fact she seemed sort of interested but then changed her mind was odd, it made me think she was in pain maybe.  I read mention in my book and on chook forums on the Internet about giving chickens aspirin to relieve pain and inflammation and decided to give that a go.  I dissolved 1/4 of an aspirin in a few mls of water then syringed it down her throat very slowly while Steve held her.  Then I left her for half an hour for it to take effect, during that time collecting up delectable items of fare such as worms, slugs, a cricket and some chopped kale, then popped her on my lap to try and persuade her to eat.
 Don't mind me sitting on the lid of the loo in the photo will you, I figured it was the safest spot to nurse her, alongside her bed for the night.  I was really pleased to watch her devour one cricket, 3 worms and some kale, she didn't fancy the slug.  She seemed much perkier and interested in everything, so I decided to put her back with her sisters.  She had a special treat enroute to the chook yard, I stopped at the worm farm, took the lid off, turned over a scoop of scraps so there was a seething mass of worms visible, then sat her in the worm farm where she gobbled up at least 20 worms, hooray!  She was reintroduced to the chook yard with no problems and although subdued, she was pecking around a bit and eating small amounts.  If she deteriorates later on then that will cement the pain theory in my head I think.  I don't want to give her too much aspirin, (god forbid a chicken with a stomach ulcer!) but if she looks really crook late in the day then I think I'll bring her inside to sleep in the box again, and give her a night dose of aspirin.
She looks pretty good in the photo, taken after her medication, her eyes are bright and she wasn't just a limp rag on my lap but her comb is a bit paler than normal.  Time will tell, wish us luck.  :-)

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Family Days

I undertook a quick 24 hour visit to Perth on the weekend to visit mum and dad, collect a daughter to steal her for a Torbay visit, and to see son Paul and our two beautiful granddaughters and to say Happy Birthday to Riley who is a great big four years old!
Here is Riley showing first great grandad then great grandma the finer workings of her birthday present from her dad.  It's a Samsung kids tablet and judging by Riley's prowess, she takes after Paul in her computing skills. :-)  
I provided some pinkness for the little girl that loves pink more than life itself.  Our present to her was a Barbie doll and some hangeronner, Liam I think is his name.  Some bling in the form of a pink necklace and bracelet and then there were cupcakes, pink ones.  They were declared to be yummy.
Michelle and I made our way back to Torbay in the wee small hours of Sunday morning.  It was much warmer in Torbay after the freezing cold night in Perth!  On Monday we made our way to our favourite place, Boston Brewery and as usual had a fabulous lunch.  They are brewing a new beer, called a porter, and Steve is most taken with it.
Today we are following in the footsteps of Perth's yucky weather, howling wind and 25 ml of rain so far.  We dashed into Albany for a few things, including this spiffy new kettle to replace our old one that had carked it.  Mum, I got the same one as yours after admiring the shape of yours so much.  But I chose sparkly blue that I love, what do you think?
After that brief outing we have tucked ourselves up inside with a warm fire, homemade vegetable soup and bread, followed by Steve's contribution of jam tarts, yum!!
Comfy chairs, warm house, full tummies and various electronic media and we are all content.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Strawberry Dreams

Okay, this is an attempt to blog via the app on my iPad, let's see if it turns out.  
We've been busy getting an area ready to grow strawberries.  Much digging ensues to rid the area of kikuyu, then barrowing in many loads of cow poo, a bucketful of blood and bone, and a handful of trace elements.  Grab tiller 'The Hun' and churn it all into the ground to mix and make it fluffy.  Steve built a big metal frame to go over the whole bed so we can net it to keep the pesky parrots out, then I planted about sixty strawberry plants.  Oh the joy of things to come! :-)
The nosy girls are in the background, they love it when they see me digging cos they know any grubs I find they get, and boy do they squabble over them!  I let them out into an overgrown area to do some gardening, they love fresh grass and it is quite amazing the impact their sharp little claws have on tough kikuyu. We've had a bit of trouble with some of the hen's eggs lately.  One of them, Anne I think, has laid a few eggs with no shells, and since then her egg shells are incredibly fragile.  Calcium deficiency seems the likely reason although I think they get a good diet and why only her eggs?  I'm pretty sure it's her as she lays different shaped eggs to all the others, hers are long, and I am recognising that shape in the fragile ones, plus she had a damp backside on the days of the shell-less eggs which were a soggy mess in the laying box.  She seems healthy though, it's a mystery.  I shall bump up their calcium by mixing calcium powder into their wet food and see if it helps.
Just have a look at our little lime tree!  It is the image of health and vitality, having grown a trillion new leaves and is now groaning with the weight of many many blossoms.
The weather has been rather chilly, damp days with a biting cold wind blowing right through you.  Times like this we truly love our wood fire.
And what better to do in a warm, cosy room is to watch the tellie and crochet a blankie with wool that's been in the cupboard for years and making me feel guilty that it hasn't been used.  Since my hissy fit last week re the failed knitting attempt, I am now calm and content with my trusty crochet hook.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Stories From Under The Shower Cap

This morning painted an amusing picture, one dripping wet husband wrapped in towels, shampoo suds sliding gently down the side of his face, outside in the cold, changing the gas bottles over as one decided to run out mid-shower.  I tried hard not to laugh and wisely kept my camera safely in the cupboard.  :-)

Aside from errant gas bottles, we've had a good week.  The weather has been wonderful - balmy, sunny days hovering just over 20 degrees and nights with a pleasant chill, giving rise to warm, crackling fires. 

On Thursday we headed out on a 4WD expedition with friends Ruth and Laurie.  We headed out of town to the east, to a place called Bluff Creek.  It is basically a gigantic beach, over 17 km in length, starting at Cheynes Beach at one end, Bluff Creek in the middle and Warriup at the other end.  We gained some valuable experience driving in the soft sand on the tracks and on the beach, and with a lot more confidence with another car and nice people alongside!
We made our way along the length of the beach, stopping whenever the boys thought that little patch of ocean looked promising.  Then it was lines in for a while, and if the action was nil, then it was back into the cars and further down the beach we drove.  The boys were hoping for salmon, alas no, but they came home with a good haul of herring and skippy.
I've been busy in the kitchen the past few days.  Our lovely neighbour gave us about 25 kilos of apples from her trees, so I have been madly dehydrating them for the pantry and stewing them for the freezer.  I experimented with drying slices both in the dehydrator and in the oven to see which turned out best.... the dehydrated ones were a zillion times better, both in the intensity of flavour and also texture - the oven dried ones were very tough.  It was good to know.  I need to buy some more trays for my dehydrator though, I only have four and the unit can dry twelve layers efficiently, so I figure if it's going to take 5 hours to do a batch, I might as well do as many as possible.
The vegies are still exploding with growth given the warm days and damp soil, so I am harvesting a bucketful of various things every second day.  My carrots are teeny tiny as I haven't thinned them out yet, I was waiting for them to grow a little bit so we could eat the thinned out ones as tiny carrots, rather than just discarding them.  I can always find some potatoes in the ground, plants pop up almost as weeds where we've missed pulling up a potato from a few months prior.  This night was a yummy mixed bag of boiled veg with a steak.
Then yesterday was for picking a heap of greens... two sorts of lettuce, spinach, beetroot (both the leaves and some tiny roots), purple kale, rocket, dill, broccolini plus more teeny carrots and a few baby turnips.
That was turned into a delicious green salad with a dill dressing, with some King George Whiting from the freezer.  You can almost imagine the vitamins surging into your body.  :-)
I took a photo from behind our house looking down the hill.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how settled our place is looking nowadays.  Gone is the bare expanse of nothing, we are making our mark upon the landscape. 
I've been dabbling in the sewing room, making Neo a new toy, a little snake.  He loves it, pouncing on it, carrying it round and flinging it into the air to be caught and chewed.  Rather hard to get a photo in focus, such is the speed of this fabulous game.  :-)
I also started some knitting, a scarf/small rug using lots of different colours so as to use up lots of wool.  Supposedly simple stitching, knit one slip one all the way along, cut yarn, slide to other end of circular needle and do the same all over again but alternating the knit/slip to the line above.  Sounds straightforward enough yes?  Far out, I have spat the dummy and flung it into the corner.  Sheila, thank you very much for helping me by casting on the 400 stitches, but I admit defeat, I suck at knitting.  Knitting confuses me, it always sounds so sensible and understandable in the pattern, but I can stare stupidly at only two different types of stitch on the needles and cannot for the life of me work out what I am looking at.  So, dropped stitches and stitches in the wrong order later, I have decided to crochet instead.  And that is final....

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Chilli Cream Cheese Midnight Delight

The weather has been lovely the last few days, cold nights and sunny days, so we've been busy outside.  Steve is still playing in the orchard, getting the last couple of trees in the ground, then bringing the turf he's dug out up to the house where I am planting it in front of the verandah.  Finally the beginnings of goodbye to all the white sand that blows around.
I've been pulling out buckets and buckets of weeds from the vegie beds.  Cow poo is wonderful to grow stuff in but by crikey does it also produce masses of clover and grass.  Not to worry, at the moment the weeds are small and pull up easily in the damp soil, and the clover puts nitrogen into the soil so there are always positives! :-)

I'm picking loads of greens at the moment.  I let my lettuce go to seed last season, so I could save the seed, and some of it has blown around the place, so I go on lettuce hunts, they have sprung up in all sorts of nooks and crannies.  Love freshly picked lettuce!  Pak Choi, Joy Sum and Tat Soi are the asian greens I put in, and all have grown well.  I don't use a huge amount, just for stir fries, but I share the asian greens with my hens, who devour them with gusto.  My rocket plants grew like the wind, I love baby rocket leaves in salad, but now the plants are going to seed so I shall save some seed then the chooks can tuck into the old plants.  I've spotted the first few baby turnips big enough to pull up for a meal, excellent. 

The best thing, our favourite thing, is the start of the broccolini harvest. In the bowl is the central head, the first thing harvested off each plant.  I chopped these up and froze them.  Then from now on the plants send up tall, skinny side shoots, absolutely delicious tender stems and a small florette head.  And it goes on for a couple of months I reckon.  Good value.
Meanwhile, inside the house we have Neo Da Destructo.  I think I mentioned last blog post about his paper fetish, here is evidence of his time amusing himself, the tail of the villain himself seen left of centre.  He is also fascinated with toilets.  Weirdo.
 A glass of wine at the end of the day, rugged up outside, enjoying yet another incredible sunset.  We only enjoyed it outside for about five minutes though, then we got wimpy and dashed back inside in the warm!  
Late in the night I learned a wee lesson.  I kept hearing noises outside, and finally braved the cold to get up with a torch to investigate through the window.  I learned it is not a good idea to leave a garbage bag of kitchen rubbish just outside the front door, ready to go over to the shed.  Stumpy the Southern Brown Bandicoot (so named for his almost absent tail) had delightedly ripped the bag open, hauled out a stash of interesting bits and pieces, and was found with his head inside an empty chilli cream cheese wrapper, licking out the remainder with relish!  Rubbish bag brought inside, Stumpy's fun ruined, Dy back to bed, lesson learned :-)