Monday, June 27, 2016

The Tale Of The Squeaking Chicken

When we first moved to Wyoming I immediately wanted to get chickens.  For years I had been reading and studying about how to raise them, the cost effectiveness of keeping them, etc.  So finally my dream came true when we moved out on 5 acres in the country.  We got a dozen hens from someone at our church.  They weren't the prettiest chickens you ever saw, kind of ragged and mixed breed.  Several were missing toes from frostbite (it gets to 30 below there often) But they were hardy (having survived Wyoming winters without a coop) and laid eggs just fine, and I loved them. Every day I enjoyed watching them from the back fence busily scratching for weeds grubs and worms out in our garden.

We had also recently joined 4-H for rabbits and chickens with my eldest daughter and were heartily welcomed into the group.  The group had amazing leaders that were fun and friendly to us newcomers and provided lots of advice.

Well one day I went out to collect eggs and noticed that one of the chickens was behaving strangely.  She seemed uncomfortable and kept making this strange squeaking noise.  Alarmed I separated her from the flock thinking she must be sick!  This was during the height of the Asian bird flu scare and many of my family members had expressed their concern with me owning chickens on the off chance that the flu would reach my flock.

As she kept squeaking I finally called the leader of our rabbit/chicken club and told him the problem.  This man's name was Marvin and he was the kind of no nonsense man that you often see in farming.  He was a bit gruff but the kids loved him and he was fiercely devoted to teaching the kids.  He had been raising rabbits chickens ducks and turkeys for more than 20 years and had a wealth of skills.

After listening to my story he bluntly said that he had seen chickens do that before and it was most likely due to my hen having eaten a mouse. Chickens can't tear things apart so when they get ahold of a mouse or snake they swallow it whole!  Well I almost couldn't believe it!  I just had a hard time envisioning the chicken eating a whole mouse.  I mean how could she get her beak open wide enough?

He told me not to worry, within a few days the mouse would be digested and the squeaking would go away.  He, of course,
turned out to be right and the hen went on to live a long life, but it proves that the best reference you can possibly have is an experienced person.  Because I can tell you no chicken raising book I ever read had information on squeaking chickens!

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