Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
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from Echo Park

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The trouble with eggs

IMG_3048.jpgCutie enjoys a dirt bath Friday morning.

She's better now, but yesterday Cutie Patootie was not well. She was lethargic and clearly in discomfort, moving around slowly, holding up the feathers on her back. Not eating. I took her to the chicken vet, and the doctor and techs pulled a malformed egg out of her; it was hideous and unrecognizable as an egg. They gave her three injections to make the egg that had been backed up behind it come out -- pitocin was one of the three -- and handed me a bill and sent us on our way. They said to keep her warm and inside last night, which we did. She spent the night unhappily in a box in the dining room. I was afraid for her and did not sleep well. She laid two eggs during the night, one normal, the other lacking a shell. In the morning, she looked better, and I took her back out to the coop and her friends. She has seemed fine ever since. In the yard she is back to digging for bugs, eating grass, taking a dirt bath, rushing here and there to investigate. Such a relief. I almost hate to think of her laying eggs. The vet said that some people have their chickens spayed. Which would be ironic for me since the whole chicken project was intended to supply my family with better eggs than we could get at the market. Spaying seems extreme at the moment (and it's probably risky -- I didn't even ask the vet about cost and risk, etc. since it seemed laughable at the time). But, with the rate that people are flocking to own backyard city chickens these days, who knows?

Meanwhile, on the very same day, Rainbow, our shyest chicken, finally laid an egg. And what a racket! She is the hen who likes to be left alone, by people. But not by chickens, and not if she's going to have to lay an egg. While Cutie Patootie and Sparkle both got fussy and restless the days of their first eggs, excusing themselves a few times till they finally settled quietly in the nesting area for a while, Rainbow ran around clucking as if the sky were falling. Running in and out of the outer coop, in and out of the inner coop. Then she went into the nesting area and there were loud banging noises. Finally I locked Sparkle and Cutie in the outer coop just to try to calm Rainbow, and it worked a little. There were still banging noises and clucking, but not as extreme. After a little while she came out, having left a small, smooth green-blue egg. All that fear and distress, and then such a pretty result. Then it was forgotten, and Rainbow rejoined her pals.

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