Tuesday, April 19, 2022

A Little Stress


 Last night I realized that Annie was not brooding but in fact, had a very serious problem. I believe she is egg-bound which can be fatal for a hen. Mr. Moon told me that on Sunday he had noticed that her rear end looked swollen but he didn't mention it to me and I didn't notice until I went to put them up last night. She has all the symptoms of being egg-bound which is exactly like it sounds- the poor dear has an egg stuck in her cloaca which is the passage through which chickens pass poop, pee, and eggs. All-in-one. And if an egg gets stuck, they can't pee or poop which kills them. 
So, I got online last night and started reading about how to treat an egg-bound hen and also texted a friend who is also a chicken tender who texted a friend of hers and I decided that the least invasive thing I could do was to put her in a warm bath which can relax the passage and allow the egg to pass. 
I was hoping for a water birth, of sorts. 
I ran a warm sink full of water with some epson salts (also recommended) and held her in it for at least twenty minutes. I could see her straining with what looked like human contractions but she stayed very calm and did not fight me nor seem to be in pain although I'm not sure how that could be. I stroked her head and soft back and told her she was a good girl, a sweet girl and she was.
She did not pass her egg and I finally wrapped her in a towel and took her back out to the hen house. I fully expected her to be dead this morning but she was not. Still alive but waddling slowly. She ate some and walked about but I haven't seen her since I've been back from the dentist this afternoon and I really do not have huge hopes for her. 
There appear to be many causes of a hen becoming egg-bound and none of them seem to apply to Annie. I honestly think that the traumatic death of her sister may have caused her so much stress that things sort of just shut down. Of course, I don't really know. She had seemed fine, just traveling about the yard with the rest of the flock. But the timing seems odd, doesn't it? 
I know that some people take their sick or injured chickens to the vet but I am not one of those people. As much as I admire and respect and enjoy my chickens, they are not pets. When I first started with chickens it grieved me horribly when one of them died and I was beyond rage when those dogs came in the yard and slaughtered so much of my flock. When Elvis, my original and most beautiful and gentle rooster died, we did grieve. He is buried in the front yard by the fence and I like to think he protects us all the way he protected his ladies. There is a little Buddha there by his grave and a rooster-shaped planter filled with bromeliads and a small blue tile with St. Francis on it that I found in the yard. It has a chip out of it but it does its job. And the flame azalea is planted right beside the little grave. 
BUT, I have learned over the years to be accepting of the things that happen to free-range chickens. If I could not be accepting, I would have to get out of the chicken biz entirely. That's all there is to it. And by golly, my birds have good lives here on these two acres, wandering about where they will with plenty of food, both foraged and fed, a cozy safe place to sleep at night, lots of sandy areas to take their necessary dirt baths and bask in the sun. And always a fine rooster to watch over them as best he can. And either Annie will make it or she won't. She's been a very good chicken. 

When I woke up this morning it was actually chilly again. And beautiful. 


To me, just overwhelmingly beautiful. The new green of the leafing trees, each one a different shade, the blue sky, the shade, the sun, the cool air- a sort of paradise. It has stayed cool-ish all day and may get down into the upper forties tonight. In preparation, I have put the duck back on the bed. I keep putting things away for winter and then dragging them back out. I am not unhappy about this, however. The more cool days there are, the better for me. 

I had to go to town this afternoon to get my crown-work done. No problem except that while the dentist was filing down my old cracked tooth, I had a spell of feeling as if I could not exhale. To be honest, that might have been an anatomical thing as I do have some sinus issues going on but he was attentive and kind and the assistant was great. 
"Our patients do like to breathe," she said. 
I got my temporary crown and will get the real thing in about two weeks. 

When I got home I got my little pepper seedlings planted along with yet another basil plant, this one bought at Publix when I went by to pick up a few things on my way home. 
Oh! Hot tip:
When you've gotten dental work done and half your face is sagging because it was all numbed out, a mask covers it very nicely! 
Follow me for more beauty tips! 

Gibson had his fourth-grade field trip to St. Augustine today which is a huge thing for all Florida elementary school students. 
Lily, because she is a super-mom and a goddess, got up at 4:30 this morning to get on the bus with the kids as a chaperone. 




Being a chaperone on field trips when your kids are of the age to still think it's cool to have their mom come along is pretty great. But Lord, the prospect of it can trigger every sort of anxiety and worry. 
As I told Lauren, however, when I saw her at Publix, you're always glad that you did go on a field trip. 
Gibson looks pretty happy, doesn't he? And that's the whole point. That's what makes getting up at 4:30 worth it. 
Hopefully. 
Not like I'm volunteering.  Been there, done that. And now I'm old. 

Love...Ms. Moon







29 comments:

  1. I so hope your hen is okay. On my personal front, my husband is in ICU for a sepsis infection, awaiting results. Could be from hid port, his positive liver test or his ongoing prostate infection/ frustrating because we were to find out today what his chemo therapy would be. Now another delay. His BP is awfully low and he had a temp of 103 which required ice packs for many hours. So I am early to bed for another trip to his hospital tomorrow. It;s a big fuck sometimes, Mary, but I like knowing that you care, As do your readers.

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    1. God, Dianne. I just keep thinking and thinking about you. This must me such a special sort of hell. Physically for him, emotionally for both of you. Do you have family to help you through this? I surely hope they figured out the infection and that he is getting the meds he needs to get well enough to start treatment.
      Thanks for letting me know what's happening.
      Sending big love.

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  2. lordy. Your hen. Have dealt with eggbound in the past,,,,,only other thing is to oil up a finger and stick it where the sun don't shine.....and try to lube up the cloaca. All you can do....aside from what you have BEEN doing. May she pull through. It's a crapshoot.....and yes, the stress of losing her *partner hen* won't help. Can't believe you went though major dental procedure without speaking about it yesterday.....oh, the dental anxiety! Good for you for getting through it. And must send BIG love to Dianne and her husband. you are a rock star, Dianne.....and I'm with you both
    susan M

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    1. I'm going to try the "procedure" tonight. You give me strength!
      I wasn't too worried about the dental stuff and I was right not to be.
      Dianne IS a rock star. I wish she could see all of us sending her our love.

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  3. That suggestion about an oil massage is one I've heard of before. Might be worth a try. It won't hurt her, anyway .

    How can anyone who got up at 4.30 look so cheerful??

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    1. Lily did say she slept for about an hour and a half on the bus so that helped but she needed a nap today!

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  4. Well I never heard the term "egg-bound" before. Nor dd I ever consider such a problem before though I once spent an entire summer with a third of my duties being in battery hen sheds. Thanks for the education.

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  5. I had a finch be egg bound. We sat up all night with her, with a warm lamp trained on her. Probably on the too warm side for such a little bird. She eventually passed the eggy stuff. I hope Annie can get the job done.

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    1. Oh. Poor tiny finch! I'm glad she survived. I'm hoping for Annie too.

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  6. I would poke my finger in there and smash the killer egg, and that is why I do not have chickens.
    The perks of being old are many, discounts here and there, going a bit blind in a world where too much is seen, and deafness is a blessing in the waiting room where their questionable taste in so called music can cause ears to rupture. I did enjoy the field trips with the kids. They were so much fun- another perk, oldsters do not need to have fun.
    I am so sorry about your little hen.

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    1. If you smash the egg inside them, it appears to lead to infection which kills them so...
      But yeah, I thought of that too.
      You made me laugh with the part about oldsters not needing to have fun. Ha!

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  7. I hope that Annie can pass her stuck Egg. We had a Chameleon once and they can become Egg Bound too, some Species of them have live births and some lay Eggs, we had the Egg laying kind and she didn't live long. They don't do well in a Desert Environment in spite of trying to keep her Cage Humid and Misted she developed respiratory problems and had to be put to Sleep. With the price of Eggs soaring I've considered Chickens, but I know nothing about tending them.

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    1. Some lizards do well in the desert, don't they? Not chameleons though, I guess.
      Don't bother getting chickens for the egg value. It's not really economically worth it. I imagine my eggs end up costing more apiece than store eggs. But they sure are better!

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  8. I read about chickens being egg bound and then ended up reading an article about how to euthanize a chicken. Now I officially know too much about how to kill a chicken and hope I never need to.

    I hope Annie can pass her egg, poor thing.

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    1. I'm going to work on it tonight. What fun!

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  9. I'm so sorry to hear about Annie, could you perhaps massage the area while she is in the warm water? Is twenty minutes a recommended time or can it be longer? I know nothing about keeping chickens. I hope she passes the egg and lives to a ripe old age.
    Gibson does look happy and so does Lily, field trips are great. I volunteered once when the first grade kids went to the zoo, I had about 8 five year olds, including my daughter in the group.

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    1. Well, you have to hold the chicken in the water so 20 minutes is about as long as I'm willing to do that.
      Eight five year olds is a lot of five year olds!

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  10. Jade asked me to go on a field trip to a wildlife park with her once and I agreed and then she chose to be in the group with another mother because that mother had money and would buy the kids stuff at the little snack bar. Wasn't the most fun with kids I didn't know.

    My sister got rid of her chickens after her husband died (he was the one that really wanted them). she never did get used to finding a dead one. Hopefully Annie survives.

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    1. Jade! That was so rude! But yeah- a mom buying stuff at the snack bar? That's pretty stiff competition there.
      Chickens can be a lot of work and grief is involved. If you're not really into it, there's no reason to do it.

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  11. Poor chicken. That has got to be very stressful for her! I hope she manages to pass her egg!

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  12. That poor hen! I hope you find her alive and well and egg-less in the m,orning.
    The Epsom salts bath reminded me of the Great Danes in my in-laws wider family. These Great Danes often suffered from constipation (is this a Great Dane thing?) and I won't tell you what the treatment was in detail but Epsom salts were involved, a large syringe and at least two strong people. Masks would have come in handy but they weren't a thing at the time.

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    1. Okay. No. No, no, no, no, no.
      No.
      Relieving a Great Dane of constipation will never, ever be an experience that I shall have. I promise you.

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  13. I always wanted my mom to chaperone one of my field trips but she never would. (That pesky job of hers, I suppose.)

    I hope Annie pulls through. This is probably a stupid question, but could you somehow break the egg inside the chicken and get her to pass it that way? Like, with some kind of inserted instrument? Or would having a broken egg inside her be worse? I know nothing about these things and I'm just thinking out loud...

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  14. Oh yeah. Those pesky jobs! My mom was a teacher and so she never went on my field trips.
    As I said to Linda Sue, if you break the egg inside her, it leads to infection which leads to death. There is a procedure where you can use a syringe to withdraw the contents of the egg and then gently pry it out of her. I'm saying no to that. Not by myself.

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  15. Goodness, chickens can give a person a lot of worries! Hope you can work it out so Annie can pass that egg. Sounds so painful.
    I know I chaperoned and volunteered a lot at my kids' schools over the years but I can't seem to recall any particularly funny or unusual stories! Hmmm, maybe I have blocked them in my memory so they couldn't have been great fun after all! :)

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  16. See now, that's exactly why I waffle back and forth about chickens. The stuff that I don't know...(and in this case, the stuff that I'd be just as happy NOT knowing...) Gibson and Lily have the most beautiful smiles.

    I actually came back here just to check on Annie, but Gibson and

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  17. Gibson does indeed look happy, and Lily too, though what I recall of those chaperone trips is all I wanted to do after each one was crawl into bed, but of course, we're the mamas so that wasn't possible. lily is a good mom, raised by a good mom. xo

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