**Thanks for all of your support on the sharing of our big milestone. Being vulnerable like that is not one of my strengths, so I appreciate the kindness!**

IMG_8682J and his pocket chicken, Polly. She makes a great study buddy.

Yesterday, we bathed a chicken in our kitchen sink. I don’t have any photos because it was a bit of an operation, but it needed to be done. Poor Marigold had a terribly dirty bottom, and we discovered last week that she and most of the flock also have lice, so we decided a bath was in order, followed by a direct dusting of diatomaceous earth (DE). She didn’t much care for being plopped in the water, but she loved the sprayer and the blow dryer. She crouched on the counter in her towel, cooing and letting me warm her fluffy rump.

Lice. Just the word gives me the dirtiest, creepy-crawly feeling, and when I found them, I shrieked and squirmed, and ran inside to wash. I’ve since learned that they can’t transfer to us, and that their presence doesn’t mean we keep a dirty coop; it’s just a side effect of allowing the birds to free range the yard, a practice we’re not going to quit since our feathered friends help reduce the tick population. I’ll take lice over Lyme any day.

So we’ve collected all the sticks that fell throughout the winter and have burned them down to ash in our outdoor stove, and mixed all that good stuff into some DE for the girls to dustbathe. The DE will cut through the lice (literally) and kill them, but it’s known to cause respiratory distress, so needs to be mixed with other materials to bind it and keep it from billowing. Hopefully it helps! We’ve learned a lot in our first year of chicken-keeping, and will be making some changes as we go forward.

Today, I have succumbed to the late-season cold that’s been sweeping through town. I’m feeling crummy, and am perversely glad that the weather is also gloomy and weepy. I don’t think I’d take kindly to Mother Nature throwing me sunshine today. So I’m going to curl up in a blanket and get some work done from the comfort of the couch with my little snuggle buddies. My children, not the chickens.

3 thoughts on “4.21.2017

  1. How do you tell if your hens have lice?

    We have 2 with propensities for a dirty rear end … sometimes it gets so bad we have to cut it out or help to knock the stuff off…the other 2 are perfectly clean. So strange! I’ve never thought to bring them in for a wash, but do try to keep their coop clean, especially the laying box.

    Any suggestions for a broody hen? We have one who’s been sitting for a few weeks now. Every few days we force her up and out but she returns to her little box.


    1. We also have two who tend toward a messy back end, which is what sparked closer investigation. If your birds have lice, you’ll notice hard white clumps at the base of the fluffy feathers around and below the vent – these are eggs. When you spread the feathers to look, you may catch a glimpse of the bugs themselves as they scatter – they’re nasty little crawlies. You can Google images so you know what you’re looking at. No ideas on the broody hen – we haven’t run into that yet. I’d be interested to hear how you handle her!


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