chicken triage and other stories

So the sweet little tea party I wrote about last?  Well, I can't remember now if that was the same day that Claire fell on her head when the hammock swing came out of the ceiling.  It very well could have been that it happened not too long after the lovely little tea party.  The days of last week sort of just blended into each other, for the most part.  My grandmother was pushing her in the swing and the hook (the hook that Mike climbed up into the attic space above the porch to anchor it with a piece of wood so it wouldn't fall out) just twisted right out of the ceiling.  Very loud thunk.  Very loud scream.  A pretty much alright child.  A very shaken up great grandmother.  Obviously, had it not happened then, it would have happened the next time someone got in it, but oh, my poor grandma felt horrible.

After I got Claire down for her nap shortly after the incident, I found myself in a most unexpected and undesirable situation for the remainder of the day.  Indeed, it turned out to be a day of incidents.

One of our hens (our gentlest one, Margaret) was acting strangely.  Listless, uncomfortable, keeping to herself..... upon closer inspection and a fair amount of googling, I deduced that poor Margaret was dealing with an extremely nasty ailment called fly strike.   Extremely nasty enough that I don't think I can bring myself to go into too much detail here, but suffice it to say that I spent many hours tending to her rear end and her lady parts, and they were not feeling very good at all.  It involved tweezers, diatomaceous earth, honey, apple cider vinegar washes, some salve, a trim of some feathers, much crossing of fingers, and lots (and lots and lots and lots) of fly babies.

Fly babies.  Sounds so much nicer than maggots. (there, I said it)  Ew.

After doctoring poor Margaret and separating her from the others, I went to bed more than half expecting her not to make it.  Well, guess what?  She did.  That was nearly a week ago and Margaret is indeed alive and kicking.

More than anything else I've encountered since taking on hens and bees and turning half of our yard into a garden, that made me feel like a real farmer.  Not just the at times farmer-like girl that I am here on our pretend 1/3 acre farm.  I saved my chicken from a nasty horrible death and I'm more than just a little happy about that.  Did I mention she's my favorite hen?  And that her eggs are the size of duck eggs?  Of course, she hasn't laid since the whole fly strike debacle, but I figure she needs time to heal.

Another recent hiccup along the way in our quest to find suburban backyard utopia...... I had to pull out several of our beautiful tomato plants because it seems the new area we planted them in this year has fusarium wilt, and one by one, the tomatoes (which were near to where we had to take down a sick apple tree last year, perhaps not a coincidence?) were succumbing to a sad state of wilted.

It'd be one thing if I'd purchased them as starts at some nursery.  But these were my babies, started from seed on a bleak February day and carefully tended for months before put in the ground.  I planted them in two rows, a total of 18 plants.  18 plants that, up until a couple weeks ago were all poster children (poster plants?) for healthy, deep green, robust tomato plants.  I dug out all of the affected plants and carefully handled them and made sure to wash my hands well before adding a new string up the stakes of the healthy plants.  10 plants remain.  We shall see.  I suppose at least now I know where not to put my tomatoes.  And more likely than not, I won't plant anything there again for a while, if ever.  There's talk of that being the spot for our earthen wood-fired outdoor oven.  The one we keep talking about.  It's 'on the list', you know.  Somewhere between finishing drywall and repainting the porch.  Priorities, priorities.

I need to do some thinking about my priorities for the summer....


  1. Oh man, I read this post a couple of weeks ago and meant to comment. You. are. a. real. farmer. I am not!! This story - I read aloud to Byron!

    I hope both of you are fully recovered.

    1. for some reason, picturing you reading it out loud makes me want to come over and hang out with you guys, like we (really) know each other! I can't tell you how many times I've shared something form your blog with Mike, saying "you know the girl in Texas whose blog I read? Well....."

      I just wrote a post with an update about Margaret. Let's just say that she is doing great and I've learned A LOT!


thanks for taking the time to read and comment~