Big Honeypot (the Buff Orphington) happy and healthy again.
Snow-y chickens, and specifically Those Babies! (the gold and black lacy hens).
It was one of those particularly stressful days when every task, conversation, and chore seemed like a challenge. My stars did not feel very… well… aligned. In fact, it felt more like we were tied up in a cosmic knot. The kids were cranky, we were all just off. I was trying to shrug off the day during our dinner conversation, and searching for the sunny-side in our day I said, “Hey, at least we’re not nursing a sick chicken.” The comment was met with an eye roll from the other side of the table.
Well, the Universe apparently took that as a challenge, in less than eighteen hours - I kid you not - we had a scalped chicken on our hands. Scalped!
Early afternoon, I headed out to do my rounds through the apiary and chicken yard, and that’s when I saw her. Big Honeypot was running around with a blood soaked head. Somewhat panicked, I first looked around for signs of a predator attack - piles of feathers, or a gate left open, but the fence was secure, and no other clues were present.
I ran back to the house to fetch a cup of scratch, a sure-fire way to round up the girls. With a handful held low, I was able to entice Big Honeypot over, and scoop her up without much trouble. Bloody as she was, she at least had an appetite. That seemed like a good sign.
I took her into the garage, placed her in the brooder/infirmary, and tried to clean her up a bit. Upon closer inspection I realized her comb had nearly been ripped off her head. Those Babies! My first thoughts turned accusingly toward the posse of Wyandottes. The Golden Laced Wyandottes are hardly babies anymore, but the nickname’s stuck. The four of them have evolved into the bullies of the flock, and I’ve witnessed them skirmishing with the other girls on several occasions. (If they don’t follow the pacifist tendencies of the rest of the flock, they very well may become dinner. I'm just saying, there’s been talk.)
I left Big Honeypot, and went back to the house to figure out how to best help her. Most of what I read suggested cutting off the remaining comb with a pair of sharp scissors. Shudder. This, I imagine would be similar to cutting off one’s earlobe. I didn’t think I could stomach it, and my intuition said let her be. I turned on the heat lamp, left her with plenty of food, water spiked with electrolytes and probiotics, and wished her good night.
The next morning turned into a warmish afternoon, and we were all outside enjoying the weather. Big Honeypot was eagerly eating the treats I was bringing out (oatmeal, bananas, scrambled eggs), and her wound was scabbed over nicely. She seemed to be healing. I opened the garage doors, inviting her out into the sunshine.
Within an hour or two, lured again by handfuls of scratch, she found the gumption to step out of the garage, and into the warmth of the sun. Obviously missing her Sister Chickens, she made her way over to the chicken yard gate where she stretched out on a sunny patch of grass. I was worried about reintegrating her too soon, but her longing for the flock was palpable, so I opened the gate and let the girls get reacquainted. Later that day she seemed well - happy even - so I left her to find her place among the others in the coop.
The following day, I noticed Nina, our honorary Mama Hen, nibbling at Big Honeypot’s head. Initially horrified, I soon realized that Nina was actually cleaning the dried blood from Big Honeypot’s feathers. That Nina! She’s such a little caretaker.
Big Honeypot seems quite healed. For now, things have mostly settled-down in the chicken yard. Although, this morning we again woke to a few inches of snow, and through the windows of the house I can hear the squawking, bagawking protests of the flock. That’s my cue, it’s time to suit-up in my warmest layers, and head out to deliver some snow day treats. Happy chickens lay happy eggs, and those are the very best kind.