How to Heal a Sick Chicken in a Laundry Room Infirmary

After a week or more of sub-zero temperatures I noticed about three days ago that Crystal, one of our Rhode Island Red chickens was not acting like herself.

In kennel US

Crystal spent a few days in the chicken infirmary in our laundry room.

She held back from eating when her sisters were mowing down my special “High Test Cold Weather Feed” (recipe below) both morning and night. Then I noticed that she was wheezing and keeping herself separate from the others hanging our under the chicken coop and dosing off. I knew then we had a problem.

As the lowest chicken in the four chicken Rhodie flock, Crystal has always been a bit of a loner, happy to free range off on her own. She has never cared to be caught, held or physically put back into the run after a free range time. She was always the last girl in the coop at bedtime.  A most independent chicken!

Gene and I jumped into motion…Out came the dog kennel, the baby gate, the chicken waterer and jar lids as feeders. I also moved the humidifier from the kitchen counter to the laundry room to increase the humidity in her body. This healing technique actually reminds me of the way I use to treat my young son’s croup – healing foods, rest and high humidity.

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Boy would I like to crawl into that supersized nest box!

We have used the laundry room/mechanical room as an infirmary before and it works well because it is right off of our kitchen, is warm and I can keep close tabs on whoever is not feel well. We have water in the sink and the chicken food cupboard is there as well.

I filled the kennel with dry leaves while Gene brought Crystal inside. The first thing I did was look her over closely, feel her crop to make sure it was not hard, make sure she did not have any lice or mites on her and determine that this was indeed an upper repertory issue. Crystal was sneezing, couching, congested and shaking her head.

Otside of pen USE

After a couple of days of healing Crystal asked to come out of the dog kennel.

I gave her a bit of tincture of Echinacea by gently forcing her beak open and using an eye dropper I dropped a small dose of the tincture into her mouth. We then put her into the kennel and set up her food and water. I kept a close watch on her on and off most of the day. She was eating enormous amounts of food, water and pooping – all good signs. So I pretty much knew that means she was not getting enough food out in the coop as she was beginning to feel more and more ill.

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On the road to healing…”Hey whose out there?”

On day one I gave her three servings of high protein cat food shreds which she devoured. She normally does not get cat food but I needed to fill her up quickly with a high protein food and boost her immune system in order for her to heal.

She was sneezing quite frequently and shaking her head to try to clear things out. Her voice sounded very croupy and horse so an upper repertory issue was confirmed. I kept her full of food, water and on day two switched to Elderberry Elixir made by herbalist Lisa Rose, of Burdock and Rose Herbals that is filled with many good herbs and organic plants. I could see her beginning to get better a little bit each day and she began to make a few soft and happy chicken “talking” sounds.

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Curious Crystal loved walking around the laundry room, exploring.

In case you are not familiar with the healing properties of elderberry Lisa Rose writes this…

“Plant medicines like elderberry (Sambucus nigra) can help shorten the lifespan of a virus — If you know when and how to use them! If you listen to your body’s call, and try preparations of elderberry elixir within the first 48 hours of the start of a virus, medical research shows that symptoms that come from colds and flu can be lessened by as much as 4 days.

How does elderberry work?

Elderberry is not only filled with antioxidants and flavonoids useful for the body, but it stimulates the body’s inflammation response against the virus. By triggering the production of cytokines – the inflammatory and anti-inflammatory agents that regulate the body’s immune system – elderberry powers the immune system which then inhibits the virus’ ability to reproduce.

Elderberry is most commonly prepared as a syrup of the fresh or dry berries and it’s easy to make your own batch of Elderberry Elixir.” Thank you Lisa Rose for this great information!

Each night Crystal climbs up on her roost bar to go to bed for the night. Content to wait until morning when she jumped down and signaled me with little chirps and that she was ready for her breakfast.

On day three she made signs of wanting to get out of the kennel so I let her out for a half hour or so. She walked around, looking the room over and actually came out for a small cuddle letting me touch her which is quite unusual for her self-contained nature.

Today she got a real good shot of Elderberry Elixir, her sprouted mung beans and barley grass in addition to her chicken food and mealworms which she devoured.  This elderberry makes me a tiny bit sleepy so I was not surprised to find her laying down in the leaves and resting later on this morning. She rested for perhaps an hour and was then backup and scratching for more food in the bottom of her kennel.

I think this poor girl was very, very hungry by the amount of food she has put down in the last three days. I have given her as much to eat as she as she wanted because my goal is to give her protein to help her recover as quickly as possible.

Crystal has not been in the house since she was a tiny, day-old chick and she surprised me at how calm she was throughout. Maybe one more day in the house and then we will put her back out on the roost at night to lessen the possibilities of re-entry pecking from the flock. Good job Crystal!!

MY HOMEMADE WINTER HIGH TEST FEED:

For eight chickens I mix the dry portion of the feed into a quart Ball jar. If you have more chickens than I do you may wish to double this recipe and mix this in a bucket or bin.

THE DRY PORTION:

1/3 jar organic layers pellets

1/3 jar black oiled sunflowers seeds (BOSS)

¼ cup rolled oatmeal (or soaked meal worms)

½ to 3/4 cup of sprouted mung beans

THE OLIVE OIL WET INFUSION:

Fill another quart canning jar about ½ full of olive oil. (I buy organic olive oil from Sam’s Club.) This infusion steeps continuously inside the cupboard and is refilled as needed.

Add dried basil and oregano or basil, mint and sage

Add three cloves of fresh chopped garlic

I taught my chicks to eat fresh herbs as babies every day. As a result my chickens love their herbs so I add these liberally, fresh in season and dry in the wintertime. Add to taste,  probably ½ to ¾ cup of herbs to a small bucket of feed.

Each evening I mix up two jars, one for the morning feed and one for the evening feed. I pour just enough of the olive oil mixture to coat the dry materials. Stir. This sits over night to continues to soak into the dry ingredients.

My chickens get their coop lights turned on around 5 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. when our Lab Sassy has to go out to the bathroom. They then have from that early hour to daylight to eat their layers pellets and drink water. Around 8 a.m. we take out the “High Test Feed.” We then let them out of their two coops and into their covered runs, feed them, clean out the heated dog waterers and refill with fresh water and clean out the chicken coop for the day. Light go off after that so they have dark and quite for egg laying. At night the procedure is repeated.

Always an adventure when keeping chickens!

Small House Homesteader, Donna

 

Under the Weather and Saving Runner Bean Seeds

Overnight it tuned a cool 40 degrees and I woke up with a lousy head cold and sore throat. Oh no! I decided to cancel my in-town physical therapy appointment for today and stay home to try to heal. Sorry my foot!

Fennel in pan USEFennel seeds in a drying pan.

I went right to the fridge to take a huge shot of elderberry syrup made with Elderberry and other wonderful healing herbs that I bought at the Great Lakes Herb Faire I attended in early September. More about the Faire here: https://smallhousebigskyhomestead.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/back-home-from…kes-herb-faire/

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My washer and dryer helps to dry the beans inside the pods.

This magical elixir was made by herbalist Lisa Rose of Burdock and Rose Herbals and quite honestly, it worked really well for me. Four days of the elderberry treatment the last time I had a cold and I was soon back to health. I am crossing my fingers that it works as well this time too.

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Lisa M. Rose book on foraging in the Midwest.

I decided this day would be a light work day as well as a nurturing one for me. I bundled up in warm long underwear and a sweatshirt and turned on the Eden Pure heater to take the chill off the house. This Eden Pure heater is such a blessing in the cold weather. Not only does this heater take the chill off the house, because it is portable I can move it close to me and it warms me right up.  And best of all, it can be moved from room to room as needed.

Runner beans on towel on floor

More seed pods than workspace so the floor became a temporary holding space.

I worked on the computer for a while and then I began to work on what I call “Sit Down” projects that have been waiting for a rainy day. I have pans of dried herbs and bean pods in my kitchen, laundry and dining room that need my attention. They need to be separated, fully dried out and stored until next spring’s planting season.

VERT pods on boiler USE

We have hot water boiler heat and this hot water boiler unit dries herbs quickly.

The harvested Scarlett Runner Beans seeds needed to be separated from their pods and to finished drying in the warm laundry room air. I prefer to leave them to dry on the vine but a cold snap and an early frost changed those plans.

Fennel in pan with legs

Sitting on the floor and separating the fennel seeds from the flowers.

After I finished the beans, I worked on the fennel seeds separating the seeds from the flower heads. I love to have my own fresh fennel seeds for cooking and this past spring I replaced my fennel plant as the old one died. The old one lasted some 7 years and was real good producer for me. I knew I had to be careful not to buy the kind that you dig and cook the roof for fennel soup but rather the perennial kind that goes to seed and comes back year after year. Next came the oregano.

While I separated seeds from pods I watched the 2012 documentary, In Organic We Trust, made by filmmaker Kip Pastor. Because I have studied the subject of organic food intimately, there was not a lot of new information for me, but it did serve to cement my earlier resolve to continue to seek out and eat, organic and locally grown foods.

Runner beans on towel on floor

I am storing my seeds and beans in glass jars with lids to keep the bugs out and my harvest as fresh as possible. The oregano will be used for cooking and for the chickens.

Even though I was not happy about feeling sick today I was happy to get this work done and the laundry room cleaned up and tidy once again. I am grateful I have the washer and dryer top as well as the boiler unit to dry things on but I’m even happier to get the room cleaned up and vacuumed up once again. I do admit, I like a neat and tidy looking house! (I suspect it’s the German ancestry in me!)

Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day!

Small House homesteader, Donna

September Project List Begun-Countdown to Winter

My head cold is a little better today. I definitely feel that the fresh Elderberry tincture made by Burdock and Rose that I bought last weekend has truly made all the difference in the quick healing time for me. If you want to know more details about the fresh herbal wares and the books of herbalist Lisa Rose, please visit her blog and site burdockandrose.com.

Ladder oaganol going on USE

Fall is a very busy “shut down” time on our homestead. All of the garden perennial get cut back and composted, the vegetable garden gets cleaned out and put to bed for the 2015 season. I also store our various outdoor decorations, vignettes and furniture. Our hoses are drained and stored in the pool shack, our water containment totes are emptied and dismantled and the pump house is winterized and so on; you get the picture. And this does not take the chickens many needs into consideration!!

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So I have to be very organized and through the years I have developed a month to month system I keep in the computer, print it off and then tick off chores as they get accomplished. I began working on my September project list today.

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I started my morning by turning on the sprinklers. It’s been very dry for the past two months on the homestead, so I am focusing on deep watering the shrubs, evergreen and fruit trees that all need to be moist when the winter snow begins to fall. Then I began cutting back the Brown Eyed Susan’s and throwing those seed plants in our roadside ditch. This way the seeds are available for the birds to eat and have a chance to germinate more flowers for next summer’s color and privacy. I’m not thrilled to have a wide ditch in front of our homestead but after serious groundwater flooding, it is a necessary evil.

Gene FS and beans USE

I also washed our bed quilt, blanket and pillows today and hung them out on the clothesline. Usually I try to air out or wash our pillows during the intense heat of the summer but that chore just got away from this season. But it is supposed to be in the 80’s this week so the sunshine and air should bake away the dust mites and air them out at the same time. The water-bed sheets received a 3 hour, hot water “sanitation” wash today as well. Sleeping with our Labrador Retriever is a sweet thing to do but I am just anal enough to need to sanitize our entire bedding from time to time.

Sheets and pillow all USE

I also picked the garden grape tomatoes and green beans and used some of those beans for our dinner today and we froze the rest of them.

Beans in strainer USE

Gene’s chores included hanging up the extension ladder on the side of the pole barn, hooked up the shop light in both chicken coops,  our freshly picked green beans, grilled the chicken for our main meal today and took Sassy for a good long swim.

This afternoon Gene and I started to inventory and boxing up all the decorative accents I had previously used as vintage decorations on our three season porch. Out goes the chicken egg baskets, the scales, the grain scoop, the crocks and much more as I have decided that not only do I want a cleaner and more tailored look on our porch I’m just plain tired of dusting, cleaning and maintenance.

Gene inventory stuff USE

We plan to have an auction sale next summer so these items will go in that sale. We agreed to use this auction money for a special trip for our 25th anniversary that occurs in 6 years. No decisions have been made at where we are going but I am hoping for something very special, like perhaps a cruise. Being divorced and starting over from the bottom up at age 50 and 55, we have never had the opportunity for a really nice (non-camping) vacation.

VERT pile on floor use

It was a small chores/bits and pieces kind of day today but I absolutely love ticking things off of my To Do list and today I did that a lot.

Small House Homesteader, Donna