Friday, February 20, 2009

Storm in the Coop

The atmosphere can change in a heartbeat. Just when all is calm, a storm breaks through.

This morning all was fine in the chicken pen. Around lunchtime I went out to gather eggs and noticed that Egglebert was alone in the dog kennel. Sometimes a hen will go in there for privacy, but I never saw him go there alone before. Still, he seemed ok from what I could see, and so I did not pursue it.

Around 2:00 I went to sit outside in the sunshine with the dogs. The Dutch door to the barn is open to let some sun and air inside, and so we can hear the chicken sounds in the yard. Suddenly an unusual cackle rose up from the chickens, one that brought both dogs racing to the door. I decided to investigate.

The chickens' pen is a former 10 x 10 box stall. I built the door from an old piece of plank fence, and the way it closes leaves about a 1-1/2 inch gap along the latch side. When I looked at the door, Egglebert had jammed his head through the gap and appeared to be stuck. His comb bled.

At first I couldn't get the hook unfastened. Normally I give the bottom of the gate a hard shove and that loosens the hook, but in this instance that was not an option. When I did get it opened, Eggy allowed me to pick him up without problem. He'd clearly been fiercely pecked on his comb by Tweedledum (who has blood on his chin). What to do?

I returned him to the dog kennel and closed its door. Then I brought hot water, washcloths, and antibiotic ointment from the house. He did not resist at all as I gently sponged away the blood until he was mostly clean, and applied the ointment. In fact, he leaned his head into me as if he was comforted by my care. Once I finished, he seemed to stand with more strength. I let him look around for a minute before closing him back in the kennel. He'll stay in the kennel for a day or two until his wounds are reliably closed.

But the question is, what happened? I know he had frostbite on his comb that was close to falling off. Maybe it did and bled some on its own, attracting Tweedledum's interest and aggression? I would rather that were the case than to think that Tweedledum has snapped and become like his evil alter-ego, Tweedledee (remember him?).

Nature so quickly altered my peaceful afternoon, focusing my attention and emotions on the flock. I guess it has many ways of making you sit up and take notice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Something very similar happened between two editors in the Style section of my newspaper recently: unexplained clucking, a bloodied scalp, a bit of bandage and all better.

Our prayers are with Egglebert today. Bless you J. Nightingale.