☆ July 8, 2013
I’ll be honest – I was never fond of chickens, and that went double for roosters. Mike has always had chickens – Snake was actually hatched by one of Mike’s hens five years ago – but I never spent any quality time with them and they always skeeved me out. The only thing going for them, I thought, was that they are obviously descended from dinosaurs, and I do appreciate their eggs.
Mike loves chickens, so I kept these opinions to myself. He had five or six hens and roosters, and this spring, we were at the co-op and they had chicks, so we got five chicks. Then, Mike heard of someone who was moving and needed homes for their chickens, so he took a dozen of theirs. I thought he was crazy. Over twenty chickens! I was a little afraid.
At the same time, I was planning my garden. I wanted to have a full garden this year that would not get demolished by grasshoppers as has happened in the past at my house, so I decided to build raised redwood beds up at Mike’s house, flanking the chicken house. His chickens are completely free-ranging; they put themselves to bed in the chicken house each night but are never contained, as Mike’s dogs keep predators away, and they eat all the bugs around his place. I have never seen a grasshopper up there.
Throughout the spring and summer, I’ve spent a lot of time working on my garden and, therefore, around the chickens and have become quite smitten with them. I even built them a chicken trough for their food, which I am absurdly proud of. One day, I noticed one of the roosters was limping. I mentioned it to Mike and he said, “I know, but what can you do about a rooster foot?” It seemed to worsen over the next couple of days, so I crept up to the rooster and saw his foot was horribly swelled. I asked Mike to catch the rooster so that I could have a proper look at his foot. None of the hens and roosters are particularly tame, but it’s easy to sneak up on Snake because he only has one eye (this is why I named him Snake; my inner child is a twelve year old boy).
So Mike caught Snake and held him as I examined his foot. There was a large dark spot on the bottom that looked like it might be a scab, so I soaked his foot in warm water which made the scab come off easily. I won’t describe the rest because it was the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen. I put peroxide in the wound and then placed a cotton ball over the hole and wrapped his foot in vet wrap. Snake was calm throughout the procedure and seemed quite pleased with his new footwear. After craning his neck into a bizarre position in order to admire his bandage with his good eye, he walked around with much greater ease.
Since I didn’t really know what I was looking at (the interior of a rooster foot is very different than the interior of a mammal), I called my vet and described what I saw and did. He prepared two shots of chicken antibiotics for me and suggested iodine in the wound the next time I changed the wrap. Done and done, and Snake is on the mend.
When it was bad, Snake didn’t move around very much, so I’d take a handful of food to wherever he was sitting and sit down facing him and toss pellets and grain to him piece by piece, which he’d gobble up from a seated position. I’d carefully aim for his right side, so he’d see where the morsel would land, and tell him how handsome he was, and he’d do that darling chicken murmur back. Now he’s much more mobile and no longer needs me to bring him food, but he still lets me sit beside him and tell him how handsome he is.