Last night at “chicken bed time” I saw one chicken sitting on the floor of the A-frame, rather than roosting. She looked a little ruffled, so I brought her into the kitchen so I could have some light to see if something was wrong with her. Ow, she had a nasty hematoma in the middle of her foot! Blood had clotted in her feathers on her underside, where she had been hunkered down on top of the injured foot.

The above picture is what it looks like today, even more heinously swollen, bruised and miserable. And I assume broken.

I’m not sure what happened to her. We did have the dogs out for a run yesterday, and at times Gene can race up the hill ahead of us and try to hassle poultry when we aren’t watching. But, she usually avoids the chickens, they aren’t as fun for her because they aren’t afraid of her. She prefers the ducks, and sure enough, when we came up the hill after our walk, she had locked onto a group of ducks (but was politely laying down on the edge of their contact zone: she knows she won’t get into trouble as long as she’s not moving them…).

Maggie was busy bringing us sticks the whole time, so she has an alibi. The chickens never seem to go into Bronte’s field. And though it looks like there is a hole on top of the foot, I don’t see an opposing one on the bottom.  If a coyote had gotten this far with her, I think he would have finished the job. So, though this foot injury might have been a dog chomp, I don’t think so.

We were home most of the day and I don’t recall hearing any kerfuffles outside. The rooster gets in anybody’s business who threatens his hens. So, my best guess is a machine injury. Kirk and I were both out driving the ATV and tractor quite a bit yesterday. The chickens are annoyingly bold about walking right in front of a moving vehicle. They don’t have much of a fear of anything, and they always get out of the way at the last possible second. They want to be right in there whenever bugs are getting uncovered, like when Kirk is chopping wood, chainsawing, or digging. Sometimes it’s hard to see that they are down by your wheels, so though of course we try to avoid them, it’s possible to hit one and not even know it. Methinks this foot may have been crushed by a tractor wheel?

chickenInHouseBut, she seems OK, and has no other damage on her. She’s managed to get up on the highest nest box in the A-frame. I put food and water up there for her and saw her eating, and she’s plenty perky and argumentative. I sprayed my favorite ol’ Schreiner’’s Herbal Solution on the wound, and gave her some homeopathic arnica in dropper form. One great thing about homeopathy is it’s so cheap, you can even justify using it on a chicken! I think she’ll heal. Just another James Herriot kind of day on the farm!