By Diane Lockspeiser

Thanks to some netting that I found to secure across the top of the playpen, I was able to keep the new young chicks in the house for a little longer than in past years.  Steve and I were then able to work on finally building the new enclosure in the coop at our leisure on pleasantly warm Spring days.  Although we still are not very experienced in carpentry and most of the time are just “winging it,” we are improving.  This project was accomplished with minimal bickering and mishaps – a great success!

The chicks were put into the new enclosure early in April, not too long after that cruel April Fool’s Day snow.  Mother Nature pulled a good prank on us that day, as if to say “So, you thought it was Spring, did ya?” Once the nights were consistently above freezing, or at least close, the chicks went out to the coop and were doing well in their new home. Even as we got a small cooler spell which worried me, they were all fine with it—except for one who huddled in the corner, feathers all fluffed up.  At first I just thought she was having trouble dealing with the cold, but as temperatures warmed again she was still acting peculiar.

This morning, I stayed and watched her for a while because they say it’s going to be near freezing tonight. She does eat and drink, so that’s promising, but she still stays with her feathers all fluffed up and her head tucked back into them, as if she’s cold, even though it’s not cold out. She sits just crying out for a while. Her wing feathers look messed up and when she tries to fly, she can’t do it. She looks and acts almost like the older chickens do when they are sick and/or dying. Then, when she bends down to eat, with her butt up in the air, another of the chicks comes over and starts pecking at her butt.

I had been debating within myself whether she needed to be separated or not, but that decided it! I set up the playpen again in the den and brought her in. Hopefully, the warmth and quiet will help her heal. Hopefully, none of the other chicks or chickens will get sick as well. And hopefully, this will be the last of the cold nights until the Fall.  I’m not counting on any of it, but one can hope…~