Chicken Nipples & Winona

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See the water bottle? Girls just ignore it. Sigh!

In preparation for changing how I water my girls, I put a big ‘ole hamster water bottle outside the coop. Just could not get the girls interested it. So, seeing their love for the gatorade, I filled it with gatorade… still no interest. I’m working on a plan, well, sorta, because I’m at a loss. The whole reason for changing to the truly awesome, homemade watering system with chicken nipples is to make my life easier while keeping their water supply cleaner, for longer periods of time.

Before I go farther, let me explain the term “chicken nipples” — which I think is probably one of the worse names imaginable. (As my friend Randi says, it may be awful, but it’s a great name for a band!)

Chicken nipples  are the piece of equipment where the water leaves the watering system that the animal uses to drink. Very similar to the stainless steel piece in the hamster water bottle above. So it made sense to use that as a training mechanism. But until I figure out how to get the girls interested and realize their favorite liquid in the whole world is there, it’s basically useless. I am open to any ideas. However, removing their current water bottles is not an option. Chickens need hydration.

And now Winona… I think I need to revise my “diagnosis” of Winona. In addition to keeping her eye closed and not laying eggs, she began sleeping — a lot. And her eating is off. She is still eating and drinking, but not to the same level as before. So I did some research on the google. One woman described what her grandpa called “going light,” as in the chicken just stops eating and drinking, loses a bunch of weight, and dies. No one on any of the blogs really knew why and several had similar stories. Very depressing, especially after I picked Winona up and she had definitely lost weight.

So, I tried washing out her eye with some Clear Eye, on the chance that was bothering her — okay, it’s obviously bothering her as she keeps it closed. That didn’t seem to be successful so I may buy some more Clear Eye and try again. I then put in some serious thought about removing her from the flock and setting her up in the dog crate until she either passes or gets better.

I chose against doing that, for several reasons. One, this has been going on for awhile and she is the only one not doing well. The rest of the girls are incredibly active. I can barely keep them in their pen anymore. I see potential problems for the garden!

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Winona settling down for the night. She likes to be close to the back door.

But also, Winona is still eating. And Beulah is almost always by her side. If Winona goes to sleep in front of the coop, Beulah will either stand over her or nap with her. Winona decides she’s done with the day and goes upstairs to sleep, Beulah usually goes with her. I think Winona would be incredibly lonely if separated and that might be the thing that sends her over the edge. Plus, she HATES cages. Frankly, she can barely stand the pen of two large raised garden beds. Since Brownie and the quints are not harassing her, and everyone else is showing signs of incredible health, Winona stays for now.

And I think I saw signs that she just might be getting better. She was up with the rest of the girls this morning and walked around pen for a little while. Now I did catch her napping this afternoon, and she went up to bed early, but I am hopeful. I try to give her treats when I can, although Brownie and the quints tend to gobble everything up. So we’ll see. Even if she never lays another egg, I would hate to lose her. I never thought I’d miss her assertiveness, but I do. I know she’s not herself when she’s not giving me the hairy eyeball.

Before diving into my weekly rant, here are some photos of the girls helping us with the Japanese Beetle issue:

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And the rant: this week, it’s the U.S. Postal Service. This link is about what’s happening with the Post Office in Berkeley, CA. However, it contains information on the overall problem with the U.S. Postal Service. Most likely, it’s not what you think. Yes, digital communication and trade have made a dent in postal revenue, but the larger issue is the 2006 law Congress passed on retirement funding. It’s unreasonable and it’s problematic. It needs to be corrected and soon. In my ever so humble opinion, we lose the Post Office, we may never recover from the impact on the economy. UPS and FedX are great, and definitely have a place in the large scheme of things, but they do not offer the service or low rates we get from the USPS.

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