When Jon broached the topic of getting chickens, I actually did some research on the topic. One thing that all the books and websites stressed was to make sure your chickens are safe from predators, in particular, from raccoons. So, my husband built a secure, fully enclosed, predator-proof coop, complete with a fenced in yard. Of course, fences only seem to work when the gate is closed…
Jon usually shuts both the gate to play yard and door to the coop right after dusk, when the chickens have put themselves to bed. One night a few weeks ago, he was up late working and hadn’t gotten a chance to close up the girls for the night. Suddenly, around 11:00 pm, while I was blissfully asleep with my earplugs, Jon heard horrible screeching and snarling coming from the coop. When he went outside, he saw that a raccoon had gotten ahold of Polly, one of the hens. I don’t know how, but he managed to get her free.
The next morning, we went out to assess the damage. I couldn’t believe the huge gashes on Polly’s back. I was actually surprised she was still walking. Honestly, I had no idea what to do. After doing a little bit of on-line research, I ended up putting her in the bathtub to wash some of the dirt off her wounds, and then squeezing some antibiotic ointment on them. I made her comfy in the bathtub with a few towels. I really didn’t think I was doing much good, and didn’t think she really had a chance. It was actually painful to even look at. Although in her defense, she still managed to eat and drink a bit during the day.
When Jon got home that night, I suggested he take her to the emergency vet, assuming she would be euthanized. I didn’t think she would make it, but I really didn’t want to watch her suffer. Imagine my surprise when he came home a few hours later with the news that Polly just might make it. The vet sedated her, gave her a painkiller, and washed out the wounds. She also gave Polly a dose of oral antibiotics to put in her food. We were advised to keep her inside until her wounds healed to keep them from getting dirty and (yuck!) to keep the flies off.
So for the next 4 days, we had a chicken living in our tub. At night, she slept in a plastic storage bin with holes in the top. The night we found her roosting in our sink, we assumed she was ready to join her feathered friends again. We were cautious about bring her back outside — afraid the others might peck at her. To our dismay, they ran right over to her and welcomed her back into the flock. Right before dusk, she scrambled right up onto her roost in her coop and let us know she was ready to return “home”.
Guess what Polly’s favorite food was during her convalescence? Scrambled eggs! Oh, and, don’t worry, I used lots of bleach to clean that bathroom! Polly is now recovered, eating bugs, and laying eggs.