Turkey Tracks: Diva Update

Turkey Tracks:  January 13, 2014



I went to sleep last night after watching the weather.  We will have a few more mild days and then the bitter cold will return.

I knew my severely frostbitten Anconda hen would not be able to stand any further damage.

I went to sleep knowing that she would have to come inside, or I would have to put her down.

Inside, first, I determined.  She has been through so much, and her spirit is so strong.  She deserves a chance.

So, this morning I got up and organized to bring her inside.

When I went out to feed the coop chickens and let them out, I saw the Diva on the hillside.  She had not gone into the coop’s cage last night.  She sat so still that I thought she might have frozen sitting straight up.  But, it hadn’t been that cold last night…  She moved a little as Penny dog went to sniff at her.  She was weak, but alive, just sitting on the hill above the junipers.  When I called to her, she moved and tried to come toward me, and limped her way down the hillside as if she were very stiff,  and I gave her a hand full of mealy worms, which she began to devour.  So, I went on to let out the coop chickens and to throw the leftover food in the coop to the twenty or so turkeys who are now bold enough to come right up to the coop.  It is quite something to see four or five turkey males in full puffed-out plumage strutting around not ten feet from you.  And it is fun to have them talk to you when you call to them.

After I fed the dogs and dressed, I organized a big box for the Diva in the kitchen.  Two trips to the garage retrieved what I needed:  a tarp to put under the box, the box, a screen to cover, and materials to line the box.  When I had the box ready, I went outside with the fish net to catch her, which it turned out I did not need.

She was very weak when I picked her up inside the coop, where she had gone as the other chickens were outside.  She hardly struggled and only squawked weakly when I picked her up.  There was no weight to her–just feathers and…air.

But, she was outraged when I put her in the box!  Where was this?  What was I doing to her?

Before I could get her into the box and put the screen over it, she flew up into the far left window and flailed around weakly.


I had to weight the screen on top of the box with books to keep her inside.

After a time, she accepted the box and settled down.  And in the past hour or two does not stand up and scurry around as I go in and out of the kitchen.  These Ancondas are very, very skittish.

She ate all of the hamburger I gave her.  But not the sunflower seeds.  She has scattered her food all out of its bowl.

The box is the box that the electric lawn mower came in–saved for just this sick-chicken purpose–summer before last.  The screen was a gift of the Swap Shop–back when we raised Chickie Annie after incubating eggs.  (You may recall she was the only one who hatched due to problems with humidity.  Later, she got eaten by a fox–which broke my heart.)  I lined the box with newspaper and an old towel–so she will have a little warmth and traction around her feet. Later I will drape another towel over the box top to make her feel safer and to keep her warm tonight.

And I will sleep without worrying about her freezing to death outside or being eaten by something that goes bump in the night.

The rooster flies up to the porch railing and calls to her.  He was very upset when I picked her up and she cried out.

I will not take a picture of her for you until she is better.  She is very disfigured, but her feet and neck do seem better.


Turkey Tracks: Dead Diva

Turkey Tracks:  January 12, 2014

Dead Diva

I have not posted for a few days.

Mostly because I knew I had to tell you that one of the two Divas is dead, and the remaining one is very sick.

Winter in Maine is harsh, and this winter has been particularly difficult for us, with the ice storm at Christmas with all its power outages, and for all the animals.  We have had sub zero temps and wind chill factors way below zero.  The weather has taken a toll–and the Divas have suffered it.

One of the Divas was dead last week–dead in the coop as I opened it in the morning.  She had terrible frostbite on her neck and around her head and her wounds were open and bloody.

Perhaps the others killed her.  Birds will do that.  And, given the Diva’s condition, it was a mercy killing, if so.  Here is where “Nature” is “red in tooth and claw.”

The frostbite and open bleeding explains why the Divas were refusing to join the others in the coop at night.  (Chickens will attack and peck at other birds with open bleeding.) And, by staying out, were risking more frostbite.  The other Diva was in terrible shape as well, but living.

The remaining Diva is hanging in there.  I am feeding her high protein foods and fats as much as I can.   Some of her wounds are better; some are still fresh.   She looks terribly bedraggled and has lost all her vibrant color.

I have such mixed emotions about her.  Should I put her down or help her to live?  Is she in pain?  If so, how much?  She is eating.  As long as she is eating, I will not act.

I will keep you posted…