Yesterday Rachel decided it would be fun to pick all the feathers off of Ivy's butt. I was hopeful that today she would decide she was done. It seemed like all was fine to start out with. I did not see any further damage to either Ivy or Ebony upon first inspection. Oh, but wait, what is that on the poop board? Why it's Ebony's purple saddle. How did that get there? And what else? There really is no poop on the poop board. Best guess is that somehow someone pulled it off Ebony, it fell off and scared the crap out of every chicken in the coop. I have no idea where they slept the majority of the night.
They went outside just fine; nice and calm. Ebony, of course, did not have her saddle on and I decided to wait and see how things fared. Unfortunately, it did not take long before I saw Rachel pick at her back again and then again ... Okay, the saddle needs to go back on. Apparently Ebony and I have gotten proficient at putting the saddle on now. She did not fuss and I was quick. She did not even pick at the elastic straps like she did yesterday. How nice. I spent some quality time in the coop with her cuddling her as she softly purred, bocked ... what sound do chickens make when they are quietly happy?
As I was leaving the coop, oh it was so much nicer in there than it was outside; about 11 degrees and breezy ... brrr. Rachel and Ivy were perched on the supports under the coop. Ivy's backside was to me and then I saw it; blood running down her butt. Oh, so not good. I went in the house to get the chicken diaper I had bought along with Ebony's saddle (yes there are diapers for chickens). I watched a video to remember how to put it on; always a good thing to know before having said chicken in hand.
Back outside and time to gather up Ivy. Oh good, most of the girls decided to go back in the coop. Much easier to gather up a chicken in the coop. However, as soon as I ever so gently laid the diaper down, all hell broke loose. Okay, this was unexpected. I got Ivy back; she was now on the roost after much wing flapping and bocking. I held her close and stroked her to calm her. As soon as I tried to slowly and gently put the strap over her head, she went ballistic. She was so terrified. So, I guess this isn't going to work. My best guess is that Ebony's saddle coming off last night was the cause of the extreme fear shown for the diaper this morning. Funny that Ebony did not care.
Plan B. We knew we had to separate her to keep her safe. I have an extra dog kennel in the barn that I actually used to brood them in last spring. I cleaned it all out and added pine chips. John came out and helped me transfer Ivy to the barn and her new temporary home. There was a pretty good amount of blood running down the ladder by the time I got back out there.
She actually transferred very well out of the coop and into the barn. I was surprised at how calm she remained. We set her up with food and water and a heat lamp (it's supposed to get down to 0 degrees tonight and she doesn't have anyone to snuggle with).
So now we have Ivy separated and Ebony with her saddle on, everything should be just fine right? I know you have guessed the answer already. Now with Ivy no longer available to pick butt feathers out of, Ebony became the new target. Yes, she now has a decent start on a bare naked butt too. Fortunately, it's not as bad as Ivy's but well on its way. Well crap. There was only one thing left to do and that was to separate Rachel from the flock. It's starting to get a little difficult. There are only so many places and kennels available, especially on New Years Day when nothing is open. We ended up moving one of the dogs, Buster, to the big plastic kennel, which hadn't been used for a long time and was really filthy. I got that cleaned out, oh yea! Then we set up Buster's kennel for Rachel. She was not quite as thrilled about her new residence as Ivy was. She's okay, but would rather not be in there if at all possible. Oh no sister, you are in time out for now. Lordy, I did not expect all of this to happen. Good thing we have had a lot of animals over the years needing different setups.
Now it's snowing like crazy outside. I turned up the heat in the coop just a little as it's going to get so cold tonight and Ebony is missing some warm feathers. The other two are safe in their kennels. Hopefully everything will go peacefully tomorrow. I am so exhausted. I am also so glad it was a holiday and John was here to help me; pretty sure I would have keeled over.
Namaste and Aho