The brush our flock was having with illness was not over yet.
Soon after Copine and Amelia’s exit, the droopy Rhode Island Red chick got sick. While devouring all of the content I could get my hands on about chick maladies, I read about “droopy”. The word described this beautiful red growing hen perfectly. From the beginning, she stood apart from the others, her wings resting away from her neck and held a bit behind her. If you watched her carefully, you would see her sway a bit. And, not that sleepy narcotic-haze-type rocking babies are famous for, but something different. Soon, her bottom was as messy as the two other gals’ had been.
She was extracted from the communal box and placed in a large moving box I re-assembled from our last move, where she would remain for over a month. The first few days, I dreaded the morning check because I was convinced I would find her barely clinging to life and might need to take on the role of executioner again.
More reading online followed. More electrolytes. And blueberries…
Did any of the backyard chicken hobbyists out there know that these berries contain something that relieves pain, similar to what aspirin does for humans? Since Irene was screaming every time she strained to defectate, I needed a solution. Why I didn’t just cull her, I’m not sure. Maybe the residual guilt I felt about what I had done to Copine. I wasn’t going overboard or anything by feeding blueberries to a juvenile chicken, right? (Hubs disagreed, of course). At times, I fancied myself a hardened farmer after the euthanization task but I had to, at times, actively push away the thought that I had mistakenly inserted myself in the middle of nature’s path. What a sad place to be, just weeks into a persons’ first chick raising experience.
The weeks went by with Irene lagging behind in size and flair and we had started a ritual that became known as her “walkabouts”. The other ladies were now established in the coop an acre away, despite an attempt to re-introduce Piggy, a nugget and Irene during a sleepover the first night in the coop (see photo journal image of the three of them the afternoon of the event). Irene would wait for me, usually in the now hot late afternoon, to pick her up from her box in the garage and take her outside to forage and dust bathe. I was hoping that her feathers were unkept and sparse because of mites, so encouraged her to dig in the dirt.
The question still was: What the heck was this mystery poultry disease?
You can read more about dust bathing here