The Secret Chicken

stories of a secret chicken

Not-Henery, she is no more.


Today, I am going to try to euthanize a chicken.

I’m not looking forward to it, but I can’t see a way around it.  She’s got a badly prolapsed vent, and she is an older lady.  The probability of a recurrence, even if I could “fix” it today, is very high.

I had options.  There is old-school, break the neck, chop her head off.  No way I could do that, any more than I could do that to one of my cats.
I could take her to a vet, but between the cost and the trauma of dragging her out of the vet and hoping they understand that she’s not a piece of livestock to me…

So I did some searching.  Two options became more viable, for me.

There are people who use baking soda and vinegar, into an enclosed environment.
There are people who attach a vacuum hose to the exhaust of their car and pipe it into an enclosed environment.

The baking soda method seems to be more common for smaller animals, but the car exhaust…well, people have been using it for as long as there have been cars, just about.  So there is proof that it works on larger animals.

I’ve started with a box.  Organic Diced Carrots.  And I’ve pulled the hose and a section of pipe off the vacuum.  About to carve a hole in the box and use Gorilla duct tape to attach the pipe.  Then I’ll attach the hose end to the exhaust pipe on the car.


I wasn’t able to do it last night. She had gone too far into the coop for me to reach without resorting to means that would totally freak out both her and the other sleeping chickens.

But today, right after dawn, I went back out. She was still in the back of the coop, but I was able to pull her towards me using a garden hoe. Ignominious, but necessary. I double checked her backside, just to make sure it hadn’t magically healed…no luck.

As I type this, she is in the box. The car is running. She flapped a little bit, but now it is quiet.

Eat your cat.


After a conversation with an old co-worker at the place I buy my chicken feed, I kind of got angry.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people suggest that I kill and eat my older chickens.  You know, just throw ’em in the stew pot.

But you know what? I’m not a farmer.  I didn’t get chickens because I needed their eggs or meat to survive, either financially or for food.  I got them because I thought it would be fun, and interesting, and I liked the idea of chickens.

Sound familiar?  Kind of like why people get a cat or dog, maybe?   But you don’t hear people saying, “Hey, why don’t you take that old, useless chihuahua and toss it in the oven?”, do you.  Well, not very often.

But it’s sad to me, how easily people suggest just killing animals that I raise – not in a barn, but in my back yard.  They aren’t livestock.

Even though they know me, know how I feel about my animals, it is still ok with them to make comments like that.  Often even accompanied by a neck-wringing pantomime or chopping-block noises.

Let me explain, one more time, how I think: You don’t name a chicken after George Hamilton if you have the intention of turning it into soup.

george hamilton

George Hamilton. You can tell from the slick-back hair and deep tan.

Toshi’s Complaint


Toshiro is a Japanese bantam. It’s obviously past bedtime here, and she’s not ready.

She’s about the size of a large pigeon – you can see how much smaller she is than the turken, who’s walking behind her (with a WTF? look on her face, I assure you).

PS Toshi got her name from this guy. I didn’t realize how much she would try to live up to her name.


Chickens are chicken.


I have four chickens who won’t sleep in the coop with the rest of the ladies.  They took up residence on an oversized tool shelf near the back door, and nothing I’ve tried has gotten them to shift to a more appropriate location.

Finally, I gave up.  I cleared off the shelves completely and installed a couple of dog house bottoms.  Added roosts, hay and pellets.  Yay!  Everyone’s happy.

Chicken house - side


Except the chickens.  They are, apparently, afraid of the dark.

They keep going to bed either on the little ledge in front of the doors, or wedged into the crack beside it.  I couldn’t figure it out, until last night.  I went out there with the flashlight to put them to bed, and noticed that when I set the flashlight inside the doghouse so I could see, the chickens would walk right in there.  Duh.  They couldn’t see inside at bedtime, so they wouldn’t go in.

So today, I got a couple of Dollar Store automatic night lights and some adhesive hooks.  And a couple short extension cords.  Now at dusk, the lights should go on and the chickens should be able to get in and comfy before I go out and turn them off.  I’ll probably hook a timer up to the lights at some point, to make it a little simpler (and less dependent on my memory).


I also set up the outdoor standing lamp near the entrances, so that getting to the door would be an easier task.

Now, I wait.

Mau Update, or, What the Heck, Cat?


This is Mau, enjoying the heat.

Ok, he’s really not happy with the weather around here right now.  But he’s taking his medicine, and hopefully that will keep him out of the vet’s office for the time being.

I’ve been trying to give him a bit of milk, to help keep his internals flowing (if you get my meaning), but as he doesn’t care for people food in any form, it’s been challenging.  The best we’ve been able to do is mixing a couple tablespoons of milk with a couple tablespoons of canned food (and his medicine) and hoping he eats it all.  Of course, being a cat, he doesn’t care for being hovered over either.

But we remain hopeful, and Mau’s a tough kitty.

Update! or No Gnus is Good Gnus


This just in!  No gnus!

No gnus is good gnus!

Just wanted to let you all know that Mau seems to be doing fine…he’s a little limp from the heat out here, but other than that, not bad at all.

(halfway there, he gave up. It’s just too hot to care about hind legs)

He’s done with the antibiotics, for which we are both grateful.  Now it’s just the medicine for his internals, which he’ll be taking for as long as we both shall live, according to the doc.  Fortunately, it can be mixed with canned food without Mau rejecting it, so guess who’s getting treats every night now?

Also, I want to thank all of you who have helped, financially or with moral support or with links and nagging (special thanks to Sumiko, who’s doing all that and more). And a person I don’t even really know from Requiem Rose Designs is donating proceeds from a jewelry set to Mau.

I can honestly say that knowing I’ve got this support, I am breathing easier.  Mau…well, he never knew there was a problem other than his tummy, but if he did, he’d mau in your general direction as well.

Mau II


I’ve had several people offer help for Mau, for which I am eternally grateful. This is probably the most aesthetically pleasing offer though.

Requiem Rose Designs is selling a collection of jewelry whose profits will go towards Mau’s care. Even if it weren’t for a good cause…it’s some pretty amazing stuff.

Click through the picture to see the rest.  Even if you hate cats, you might be suckered in to this deal…

The Mau-O-Meter


Mau = Cat


The picture you see here is of Mau. He’s not a chicken. He’s a cat.  An awesome cat.

Here’s a little history on Mau.
Many years ago (like 7 maybe), I called up a friend who had a friend who attracted strays like some people collect Precious Moments figurines.  Not on purpose, they just kept showing up on her doorstep.  A couple days later, he calls me back.  A cat showed up on her doorstep.  A cow-cat.  With a black nose.  And a wicked-ugly injury on his back.  Did I want him?  YES.

So I went and picked him up.  He was filthy, his back was shaven and the wound cleaned.  He wasn’t able to fully control his back legs, but seemed to get around all right.  They estimated he was about 9 months old.  He opened his mouth and said…well, he said MAU.  Like a cat and a cow had a freaky duet.  Thus, his name.

So my point in writing this today is that now, after all this time of being Mau the Invincible, he’s spending the  night at the vet’s.  Impacted bowels.  How undignified, right?  Not like those cute little two-legged puppies that people ooh and aah over and make them little carts for their missing legs.  So completely unglamorous.  Unfortunately, just as long-lasting.  Just as puppy legs won’t grow back, neither will his bowels ever again be at 100%.

But the thing is, this visit is probably going to cost more than a whole paycheck, and for those “paycheck to paycheck” types (like myself) it’s a huge blow.  And a huge bill that I can’t even begin to figure out how to pay.  That’s where you come in.

This is a Donate button.

It will take you to a page where you can donate as much as you desire to the cause of Mau.  You have my promise that any funds donated will go to Mau care, either directly to his vet bill or the medication they say he’ll have to be on for the rest of his life.  Vulcan’s Honor.

If you like, you can lend instead – seriously.  If you make a note in your donation that you are lending, not donating, I will do my damnedest to pay you back at some future date.  Again, Vulcan’s Honor.  I can’t make any promises about when it will be, but It Shall Be Done.

So please, consider doing this.  Show your friends.  Hell, show you enemies, I’m not proud.
Mau is a fantastic cat.  He’s our luck dragon, our manly-man, our kitten keeper-in-liner.  Look at this face and try to say no.

Mau, Luck Dragon

Mau is home, seems to be doing ok.  He’s awful stinky, but I guess that goes with the territory of his condition, and will go away.  He’s also doing a lot more curling up with us, but I suppose that’s to be expected as well. He had a hard couple days.

He’ll be on two kinds of medication for a week, then one for ever.  Fortunately, it’s something I can mix in his food, and fortunately, it’s not as expensive as I thought it would be.  Yay!


Hormonal Hen


Picture here is Sprinkles, who is currently broody. I wasn’t terribly concerned, I just pulled her out of the coop a few times a day to make sure she got food and water and exercise. Until yesterday.

I’d thought that my other ladies weren’t laying much lately because of the heat – that can happen. I’ve only been getting one brown egg a day lately. Turns out they have been laying eggs. Under a pallet we’ve been stacking wood on. I found a dozen white and green eggs stacked up under the edge – I only saw them because it was getting crowded and one had rolled out partially.

So now, I’m taking this Broody-Breaking a little more seriously. I’ve already tried the water-dips, and that didn’t work. So now, I’ll try the “kenneling” treatment. I don’t want to, it doesn’t sound nice at all, but I’ve got to find a way to get her out of the coop so the other ladies can lay their eggs in the comfort of their nesting boxes.

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