Mrs. Hall and I are trying something new. We've decided that if we're going to continue to deal with the occasional prolapse and the resulting dirty feathers, we need to figure out a way to deal, that isn't unpleasant for either of us. Not dealing with the problem just makes is worse, believe me. I've considered an alternative to dealing with this re-occurring problem, and as weird as it is to clean a chicken's poopy butt, the other option seems worse. And unappetizing. So, what's the easiest way to give a chicken a bath?
The first time I gave her a bath, I did it in the bathroom sink, and while it was nice to have hot water, I really don't want to contaminate my bathroom like that unless it's an emergency. The garden hose works pretty good, but it's hard on my back and my clothes, and hard on her to get sprayed with cold water, down there, while being held upside down. It's hard to blame her for being sort of shocked by the experience.
This time, I filled a bucket with hot water, and dumped in some baking soda. My thought was that the baking soda would loosen the dirt, without requiring a rinse cycle, and I could pour the bath water on the garden once we were done since it's not toxic. Who doesn't love a hot bath?
Yes, I did say bath, but not for you Puck, so you don't have to look so worried.
The trick to making this go smoothly for all involved, I thought, was to get Mrs. Hall to peacefully stand in the hot water for a good long soak, which would minimize the cleaning effort to a gentle swishing. By the way, when it comes to the risks involved in blog photography, the photo above required almost dare devil courage on my part. The potential for cell phone disaster is extremely high when gently restraining a chicken with one hand and leaning over a bucket of chicken bath water with my phone in the other hand. With my clumsy hands, one wild flap and I would have some explaining to do at work, when I had to report that my work issued phone was drowned in poopy water. Fortunately, Mrs. Hall seemed intrigued by the sensation of the warm water, and didn't put up a struggle.
It didn't hurt that I filled my pocket with cracked corn, so each time she started to get a little antsy I would distract her with a snack. She stepped out of the bucket twice, but each time was lured back with some cracked corn and didn't resist when I put her back in the bath. After I thought she had soaked long enough, I sort of swirled the water around on her, dosed her with some preparation H on a q-tip, and congratulated us. Not bad. Took a little time, sure, but what's a couple of yuppie's like us got going on anyway, right?
The after bath aftermath resulted in furious grooming. June, not wanting to be left out, got into the spa spirit, and demonstrated how she can fold her body in half. I envy her flexibility. I once heard it recommended that in order to understand how often a person should stretch, pay attention to the cat, and every time the cat stretches, stretch too.
In that vein, I wonder if I could teach myself to do a yoga pose every time the chickens do one. Between the cats and the chickens, I might loosen up! I'm not sure I could ever nibble the feathers on the back of my leg the way Mrs. Hall can though.