I think I need to take a minute here to ponder the twists and turns in my life that brought me to the point in time where I was sitting on the floor of my spare bedroom with an unhappy chicken tucked under my arm while I try to put a tiny little splint on her toe, one-handed.
I just. Yeah. Not. I don’t quite know, actually.
I don’t even know where this story starts, except that at some point Saturday I noticed that my biggest, most active pullet had a toe that looked like this.
Yeeeeaaaaah. Did you just faint? Sorry.
So here’s the thing, I’m pretty sure this is a new development, but I can’t say for sure that I ever examined the right foot of this particular bird before this and that it looked… not crooked. I’m a bad chicken-caretaker, I know it. I think this is something I would have noticed sooner if it was a genetic defect (which I learned can actually happen once I started frantically googling “crooked chicken toe” after this discovery), and this is my adventurous chicken… the first one to grab treats out of my hand or to run out of the cage when I leave the door ajar and tries to roost in the most inappropriate places possible. Like the side of a paper bag.
It’s entirely possible she got her foot caught in something when I wasn’t looking or had a hard landing off the roost in the cage. It’s also possible it just kind of grew this way (which makes me worried I did something wrong in the raising of these girls so far). She doesn’t limp, favor it, or let it slow her down, so I had a big internal debate about whether or not I should leave it be, or, you know, try to fix it.
Fix a chicken toe. Neither of my degrees covered this.
But, you know, this is a part of the whole farm deal, and since I don’t know if it’s actually broken or not, I figured it was worth at least splinting it for a week to see if there is some improvement…
That’s a pipe cleaner and a couple of cut-up bandaids. My MacGyvering skills know no bounds.
She’s still walking just fine and the toe is straighter with the splint, but still hangs at a funny angle. I’m going to check it after a few days and see if this is an improvement or just, you know, general first-time chicken-owner craziness.
Holy shit you guys, I am so unprepared for this. I feel like I need to take some veterinary classes. I don’t want to be a veterinarian, but I also don’t want to fight the urge to faint when I have to deal with a crooked chicken toe on my own. God forbid one of the farm animals needs a shot.
We’re not even going to talk about that actually. Let’s talk about some things I’m doing right instead, like employing my miniature donkeys as lawn mowers.
After the Great Escape last week I decided it was time to start taking the boys out on the leads so they would get familiar with the rest of the property. Luckily their new halters came in last week, and look at my little dudes…
Handsome, aren’t they?
We’ve been working about an hour a day outside of the pasture and we’re finally at the point where I can let them “go free” without the leads, and they still come back when I call…
Or at least they don’t run when I come up to them. They are such good boys, and I feel like we’ve made great progress in the last week.
Every day I’m surprised at how much more of an adventure the last few months have been, now that Liberty is feeling more “farm-like.” Sunday, when I was feeling a little worn out, I walked out into the middle of the pasture, kneeled down, rested my face on a soft donkey-nose, and let me tell you… no matter how many chicken-toes you have to splint, feeling that warm donkey-breath on your cheek will remind you that you’re right where you’re supposed to be.
And the garage full of power-tools doesn’t hurt either. More on the chicken-coop and raised-garden-bed fun later this week…