Keeping farm animals in the city can be a real hoot. Follow freelance writer Audrey Pavia’s adventures in Southern California with a yard full of urban livestock, including horses, chickens, a Corgi and an urban barn cat. She somehow manages all these silly critters by herself while working full-time. And you thought “The Simple Life” was out there?
Photo by Audrey Pavia
It’s always upsetting when one of my chickens is under the weather, but last week, when my black rooster, Mr. Molly, cut his foot, I was particularly distressed. Unlike, Mr. Mabel, his orange brother, Mr. Molly is sweet and gentle. While Mr. Mabel is aggressive and cocky (I can sure see where this term comes from.), Mr. Molly is soft and humble. Mr. Mabel’s attitude has earned him the dominant position in the flock, but Mr. Molly’s kind nature has earned him a place in my heart.
When I first saw Mr. Molly hopping on one leg, I picked him up and was horrified to see blood on his foot. I was rushing around, late for work, and didn’t have time to do much except feed him and plan to deal with it when I got home. In retrospect, I should have taken him inside and washed off the foot, but all I could think about was the meeting that was happening at work that morning and how I couldn’t be late.
My sister, who’s a veterinarian, recommended that I start him on a course of antibiotics right away. I still had medication left over from my hen that had hurt her foot (what’s with the feet?), and she told me to start giving it to Mr. Molly that night.
I thought about isolating Mr. Molly from the flock, keeping him in a crate until his foot healed. But since he was getting around okay by hopping, and seemed fine in every other respect, I opted to leave him with the flock. I knew that time away from the other birds would stress him out, and make it even more difficult on him when I had to return him to the group. I worried that aggressive Mr. Mabel would forbid him from returning to the flock.
So every night this past week, I’ve gone outside and taken Mr. Molly out of the coop while he’s roosting to give him his medication. Putting him back on the roosting pole is upsetting because he doesn’t want to put weight on his wounded foot. So instead he uses the wing on that side to balance, placing the tip of it down on the pole to keep him from falling.
Every night, I examine his foot to make sure there is no swelling or sign of infection. It looks normal. In fact, he’s not holding it as tightly to his body as he initially was, so I’m hoping this means he’s getting better.
Meanwhile, every morning when I let the flock out of the coop and throw them their pellets, I have to stand guard over Mr. Molly to make sure he gets his fair share. Nasty Mr. Mabel has taken to attacking him when he’s eating, forcing my poor gimpy roo to hop away without any breakfast. I solved this problem by standing between them while Mr. Molly eats. Mr. Mabel tries to get around me, but let’s face it. I’m bigger than he is. And probably a little bit smarter.