Come on, Peep-le
Your future is so, so bright. Don’t you ever forget that, okay? — The New Chicks On The Block
Here’s What’s Happening At Good Spirits Farm
Last week I couldn’t bring myself to send out the newsletter because things with dear Squeakers seemed precarious and I didn’t want to leave everyone in limbo. As some of you will remember, Squeakers took a bad tumble a few weeks ago when she was trying to fly up onto a roost, and we found her lying sprawled out on the ground. She seemed to recover miraculously from that, though we were noticing she needed help getting on and off the roost bars at night.
Well, last week she and another chicken suddenly got very weak. When we found Squeakers laying out in the grass, she couldn’t even stand. We thought for sure we were going to lose her that night—again. Because there were two birds that went down at once, my first thought was bird flu. But, they didn’t have the right symptoms and it didn’t appear to be spreading through the flock. Everything I’ve read says they’ll be dead in 24 hours, and you’ll start seeing other birds go down fast. That simply wasn’t happening, the other birds were fine. When I took a really close look at both birds, I saw what I was dealing with: Chicken lice.
Unfortunately, one of our (unnamed) buff Orpingtons was badly infested. We gave her a bath, trying to get the lice off of her, then doused her with a mite and lice control spray. We fed her B-vitamins and iron via an eye-dropper, but she was simply overwhelmed. The bath, which was the only way to get the lice off of her, also added stress to her, and she just never really recovered. We had to let her go last Saturday. I’ve been kicking myself for not figuring out what was going on soon enough to help her.
Squeakers, though, has been hanging in there. She got a bath and a blow-dry session, plus extra feed and vitamins. Each day she’s getting a little stronger, and she can finally walk around again. We are keeping her isolated, because she has always been bullied by the bigger chickens and she deserves to have a safe place to rest. Squeaks used to be a shy thing, but all the hands-on attention has made her super snuggly. She now loves being picked up and carried around!
I went ahead and treated the rest of our gals for mites, just to be sure I didn’t have any others go down. Chickens, like many prey animals, work very hard to camouflage any illness or weakness they’re dealing with. By the time you see symptoms, it’s often very late in the game. We’re lucky that there’s a really effective mite killer that uses naturally occurring bacteria instead of harsh chemicals to knock back lice and mites, so we can treat our gals without hurting any other critters on the farm. Here’s hoping that’s the last we see of chicken lice for a while!
Here’s What I Loved This Week
When time is tight and we are overrun with eggs, this shakshuka recipe becomes one of my dinner go-tos. We freeze bell peppers in strips during the summer, when our plants are producing more than we need. While they emerge from the freezer a bit soft, they’re perfect in a recipe like this.