The Story of One-Winged Wilma and a Guinea


chickenAbout 6:30 this morning our phone rang, it was my husband.

“Can you come out here the chickens are out. Something got into them last night.”

I put on my bathrobe and slipped on so shoes and hurried out to the coop as he needed to get to work and any chickens left out would be breakfast for the dogs. I got out there and help him herd the flock back to what we thought was safety.

Then he states ” there’s two chickens in there with their heads missing and one dead turkey.”

My heart sank. I hate losing animals, especially like this. It was probably the result of a raccoon, weasel or something of the sort. So there I am in my pink bathrobe hunched over walking into the temporary chicken run to pick up the pieces. I gave everyone a quick look-over and went out. You could tell something traumatic had happened because none of the birds were acting as usual.

We patched up the hole in the fence, Mike went to work and I gave the birds (or what was left) their final blessing.

A couple hours later I went out to do the actual “chicken chores” only to discover a guinea hen looking very odd and the other birds were pecking at her. This could only mean one thing, blood. So back into the pen I went. Squeezing through the fence, hunched over I cornered the mangled bird and took her out. Any bird with blood must be removed from the flock until they heal. If they are not removed the other birds will peck the to death. Another horrible way to lose an animal.

I gave her a brief examination to find her wing bones were snapped in two, hanging there only by a little bit of skin. The skin on one breast was gone. I felt so sick. Not because of the gore but because of what that poor bird went through and will have to go through to heal.

At this point I had no idea what to do about the bird. Maybe remove the portion of the wing that wouldn’t make it anyway but after that, how do I care for this?! I have dealt with a few animal trauma events. I’m far from a vet but I can “mother” an animal with the best of them. Chicken first aid is new to me though.

Thank God our mailman knows everything there is to know about poultry and was kind enough to stop and check out the broken bird. Yes, that’s right our mailman not only delivers the mail in rain, wind, sleet and snow but is capable of fixing birds too!

After Vern gave the bird a look over it was decided I needed to remove the part of the wing and put peroxide on the open wounds everyday until she’s healed. Apparently not only is there the usual bad bacteria and germs to worry about but this time of year they can end up with maggots in the wound! Yuck!! I can handle quite a bit but I’m not sure I want to test the limits either.

With Vern back on his route I gathered what I needed to do the amputation. The bird was placed back in solitary confinement, otherwise known as an extra dog kennel. Now that I had a plan I set her up a little place in the kennel. She will be safe in there. There is not enough room to flap her wings and hurt herself any further, but its tall enough for her to walk around. I gave her a good coating of peroxide and let her rest. This procedure will take two. One to hold and one to cut.

Giving her time to rest. I went back to the house and continued with the day.

Then round three began. Because today wasn’t filled with heartbreaking news already. I was headed to work, just stopped to close the barn door and I heard one of the chickens chirping. It wasn’t a normal chirp, nor a squawk. So of course, to the coop I go to see what’s going on. There is one of our layers, standing in the middle of a crowd getting pecked. After this morning events and by the way she was not trying to get away I knew this wouldn’t be good either.

Back into the pen I go. The flock scatters and Wilma just stood there. Eyes closed, head down. As I walked towards her she began to walk to the opening in the fence. She got to the end and stopped as if to say “I’m ready. Please help.” It was one of the saddest sights I’ve seen in a long time.

I picked up the little bird, her left wing was gone. The bone was exposed just below the shoulder. I fixed up another kennel (thank goodness we have extras), gave a dose of peroxide and put her in to rest and made my way to work.

The whole time at work all I could think about was those poor birds and what they must have went through, and if I missed Wilma did I missed any more? The whole thing just makes me sick and to think just before the storm rolled through last night we were out getting ready for high winds and possible hail. I thought about closing the chicken door and didn’t. All of this could have been prevented if I would have just shut the door.

For now Wilma and the guinea are resting comfortably in their own spaces. Once the make a full recovery they will rejoin the flock and all will be well again… I hope.

Crunchy Towels and Stiff Blue Jeans

Ah one of the joys of country living is line-dried laundry. We had clothes lines in town too and I used it often. The younger neighbours gave funny looks when I did, I’m not sure if it was because I was using the line or if they didn’t know what it was for or maybe it was the apron and boots. Whatever the case they just didn’t seem to get it. The older neighbours seemed to enjoy seeing someone use the old line again.

I am quite surprised there isn’t one at the farm already. You can bet I will be installing one. For now some line between trees will work just as well. When the days are nice I hate the idea of using the dryer. It just doesn’t make sense. “Way back when” grandma said they hung the clothes out year round. In the winter they would freeze stiff and then be brought to thaw and drip dry by the wood stove. I don’t have the necessity or feel the need to go that far, however on nice winter days I will hang the blankets out to freshen them up a little.

Towels and blue jeans always seem extra crunchy off the line. I don’t mind it, though I’m not sure the rest of the family feels the same way. The midwife brought up a good point, line dried towels are a great for exfoliating.

The first nights sleep on sheets that have been washed and hung on the line to dry always seems like the best night of sleep. I don’t know if its the fresh sheets or the fact the it’s Saturday or Sunday night after a full weekend of long days working. Whatever the case, I like it.

There are a few down falls to drying laundry outside.
-The collection of pollen- during high pollen times of the season fresh sheets can be not so great with allergies.
- Wet dogs – when the dogs come back from falling in the slough or the lake (one of ours must fall because he doesn’t like to swim) and shake, of course they need to do it by the clothes line.
- Wind- This is both good; it dries things much faster, and bad; it can blow things off the line which may or may not end up needing re-washing.
-Bird shit- needs no explanation.

Even with the few minor mishaps, I would much rather use the clothes line.

A Mid-Summer Update

Wildflowerfarm.orgSummer is a very busy season around here and sitting down to the computer is just not something I like to make time for. On the rainy days I usually have so much house work backed up that that is what needs to be done. Writing is better done in the winter, when I can cozy up to a hot cup of coffee and stay warm by the fire.

So far this summer we have planted the garden, very late. Between the late planting and cool wet weather everything is very behind. Except the weeds, they are doing very well! I did spread a thick layer of straw between the rows and that has helped quite a lot.

The wire around the corral is up and ready for the cows to come home. No, they are not here yet. Like I said things have been busy here and everybody has day jobs too. The husband and my dad have been putting in long hours working up here though.

We were able to get our first cutting of hay baled yesterday. By “we” I mean, the husband, my dad and the neighbor. Unlike everyone else, I have a night job. I was quite disappointed to miss the haying. Aside from allergies, I really enjoy throwing bales. It’s a very satisfying job and at the end of the day feels like a good accomplishment. There will be plenty of other opportunities though.

The chickens are living in the coop! It’s not totally finished yet either. But they have a place to live anyway and seem to enjoy it. Which is good, because Stinks at 2 more guinea hens. I was not happy with her!

The dandelion wine is still happily fermenting as well as a batch of columbine flower wine too!

I’ve been taking stock of the flowers in each bed so next year I will know what I want to keep and move and what can go. There isn’t much but what there is, is a nice variety.

The basement has dried out for now too!

Our fox is back too! He’s pretty cute, but could be a problem with the chickens. I haven’t decided if I should “take care” of him before or after he eats the chickens. I’d like to do it before, on the other hand, I’d like to think the best of him and think he will leave them alone. There are plenty of mice for him to eat instead. We will see about this.

That’s the quick summery of what’s been going on around here.