Guess what…

Uh, huh. Go ahead…just what you’d hear from your 10 year old…chicken butt!!!!

Oh, geez, I never would have thought that keeping chickens would result in such things, but I had to wash Maisy’s butt today. Here’s Maisy, last year just before she started laying:

Maisy as a pullet

Maisy as a pullet

Once she started laying last year (on September 8, 2007 to be exact) she has been my most reliable layer, producing one large, delicious egg a day. So, I have to cut her some slack today when she “misfired” and apparently laid an egg without the hard, outer shell. Unfortunately, she also somehow squished it in the nestbox, making quite a mess of it and herself.

So, this morning when I figured out what had happened, I quickly changed out the dried leaves in the nest box for some new ones, cleaning out the drippy mess she’d made. But I had to wait until later this afternoon to clean her up. She was a mess: the feathers on her back side were matted with egg residue, and quite gunked up. I didn’t want to just leave her that way; after all, I know baby chicks can get “pasted up” and be in trouble, and didn’t want to run the risk of a similar thing happening with my best laying hen.

When I finally had a break in my relentless schedule of conference calls today, I prepped the laundry room sink with a basin of warm, soapy water, some clean towels, and the blow dryer. I went into the yard, picked Maisy out of the run, and quickly brought her inside. The other chickens were quite flustered to see her leave; after all, Maisy is not just the top layer, she is the top hen in my little flock. So, to see their queen whisked away was quite a disturbing thing to them.

The bath itself wasn’t so bad. Maisy struggled a bit after I plopped her into the basin of soapy water, but she eventually just gave in to the experience. I’ve never had cause to bathe my chickens before, and frankly I don’t really want to repeat the experience. I only washed the parts on her that were mucked up, as I didn’t want to get her too dripping wet considering the cool weather.

The blow drying was brief, too. I only have one of those dryers that is hot and fast or hot and slow, with no cool setting at all. Since I didn’t want to overheat her, I only briefly blasted the wet areas with the dryer.

I returned her to the run about 10-15 minutes after stealing her away, and everyone seemed happy with that. Maisy seemed unaffected, which is the best result I could hope for. So, now that I’ve tended to the bums of both a baby chick and a full grown hen, I have to say that the baby chick experience was definitely less wacky.

Ahhh…the things we do for our pets…

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