Fir apple potatoes

This year is the first time we have grown fir apple potatoes. They are supposed to be harvested in September but I was impatient to see how they were doing so I dug up one plant.

There was a bowl of potatoes that was enough for two meals for the two of us so I probably need to wait for a bit longer for the plants to produce a better yield.

First fir apple potatoes

There was however this rather funny specimen.

Rude shaped fir apple potato

Potato from a different angle

Novelty veg always brings a smile.

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Rusty has another wash

This was Rusty’s bottom yesterday. I have never seen it so mucky. It was a cool day and rained most of the day but the next day was forecast to be warm and sunny so I decided to wait until then to wash her again.

Rusty with a very mucky bottom

I took the bowl of warm water with a little washing up liquid into the run and set it up on top of the nest box. I thought it would be less stressful for Rusty than bringing her indoors. I stood her in the bowl and washed her bottom then dried her as best as I could with a soft tea towel.

Rusty after having her bottom washed

Rusty perched on the shelter and preened herself. She looks bedraggled because of her damp feathers but she cleaned up much easier this time. I hope that once she dries properly she will stay clean.

I checked back on her a little later and was so thrilled to see that she now has a lovely fluffy bottom. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to see this. I just hope she stays like this then I will really know that she is back to her usual self once more.

Rusty has a fluffy bottom once more

while I was researching about causes for hens to prolapse I read that an extra large or misshapen egg can cause a prolapse. While taking some eggs from the fridge this morning for breakfast I was reminded that we had two extra long eggs. They were no bigger round than usual but about twice the usual length. At the time I had no idea which girl had laid them.

I am now wondering, in hindsight, if they were Rusty’s eggs. By a process of elimination I think they could well be. I know that Freckles had laid on the day of the first one. Apricot lays the tiniest of eggs, Cinnamon lays larger, oval shaped and slightly beige coloured, eggs, and always lays them in the corner of the chicken shed and Dandelion has been laying eggs with a thin shell. This egg had a hard shell.

What seems odd is that I found these two eggs several days before Rusty appeared to go broody and then she laid one normal egg as she often does on the day she starts to go broody. It was the next morning that I saw the prolapse.

I can only speculate but I think perhaps these two long eggs may have lead up to her prolapse. I also read that because of the prolapse it is more difficult to poop and I think that’s why she has been getting a mucky bottom. This morning before I washed her it didn’t seem quite as bad as the day before so I am hopeful that that will also improve.

Rusty in herself is looking very much normal, active, eating and running to treats, dust bathing and preening and chasing away the lower ranking girls. She also has a red face and comb. I am feeling more positive now that she can get over this.

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Things are getting better

Last night I gave out the bedtime treat and then, at the time that on the evening before Rusty had been stood on the grit box looking poorly, she took another dust bath accompanied by, Freckles, Apricot and Dandelion.

What a difference. She still has a mucky bottom which may be why she is having so many dust baths. She is looking back to normal apart from that so for now I am leaving her be. If it doesn’t clean up in a day or two I may try giving her wash.

Communal dust bath before bedtime

Four girls in a row

Emerald in her usual spot before bedtime

After the bedtime treat Emerald always sits on her favourite perch and she will stay there until she goes in the chicken shed for the night. She is a creature of habit and when we go up for a last look at the girls after dinner she will stay there whilst all the others come running to greet us.



Cinnamon is a bit of a loner and is often wandering the run on her own. She soon settled to digging before bedtime which is her habit.

It is good to have a bit of normality after a drama filled week and I hope things settle and stay this way. I have had quite enough excitement for one week.

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From one thing to another

Just as Rusty is on the mend from the prolapse we run into the next problem. She is showing early symptoms of mycoplasma. Once mycoplasma has been in the flock it will reoccur at times of stress and I think the stress that Rusty has been under has probably caused this to come out again.

For the last couple of days, while bathing her, I had noticed the same sweet smell from her that I recognise from Caramel. I mentioned it to my husband and we decided that perhaps a wet chicken smell is recognisable in the same way that a wet dog smell is.

Before bed time, yesterday, Rusty had settled in the nest box again. Several times I lifted the lid to check on her and the same smell wafted out. She was now dry and I felt the niggle of anxiety at recognising the smell again. I felt unsure that I could diagnose mycoplasma by just a smell and no other symptoms.

A little later I checked on Rusty again and she had a drink of water and then was standing with her beak open while breathing.

Rusty is breathing with her beak slightly open

She then moved to stand on the grit container and  continued breathing with her beak open and her eyes closed and her head nodding up and down as she was breathing.

Rusty has her eyes shut and her beak open as she breaths

Her head bobs as she breaths – up

And – down

I now had alarm bells ringing.

Half an hour later she is still here but facing the other way

Soon after this she put herself to bed in the nest box. By this time I felt certain this was mycoplasma, probably brought on by her being stressed. I had no more tylan and the vet was now closed.

I decided to call as soon as they opened in the morning.

I called the vet and got put through to the sister practice that I had taken Rusty to a few days ago. I explained what was happening and the receptionist checked if either they, or my local vet, had tylan in stock. My local vet had no stock but they did. She said the earliest appointment for me to take Rusty was at eleven forty.

At ten o’clock I had a phone call from them. It was the lady vet that had treated Caramel and Pebbles last year. She said that as she knew my history and she knew that I was able to recognise the early symptoms, she was happy to leave me some tylan to pick up straight away without taking Rusty in. She had recognised my name and Rusty’s in the appointment book.

I was so pleased I could have hugged her. I went off to collect it straight away. Luckily once more I didn’t have lunch deliveries, as August is our quiet time, at least something is going my way. I got back by eleven o’clock and put it in the water immediately.

As luck would have it Rusty was out of the nest box and came straight to the water and had a good drink, hurrah! I went to get my camera but when I got back Rusty and Apricot were having a dust bath. I feel so relieved and hopeful again. Catching it quickly is key and I now have enough tylan to keep some in stock.

Rusty and Apricot having a dust bath

Rusty is flinging up a cloud of dust

After just having had another sleepless night I am now feeling much more positive again. It’s a rollercoaster at the moment with Rusty bouncing me up and down but I just hope things will settle down now.

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The second day after Rusty’s prolapse

This morning I gave Rusty another bath. I cleaned her the best I could but didn’t worry that she wasn’t completely clean. I wanted to get the honey off so that she can continue to clean herself in a dust bath but I didn’t want to mess about with her too long as I didn’t want to stress her.

Rusty before her bath

After her bath Rusty had some chopped grape

Her face and comb are red which is a good sign

I towel dried her as much as I could but I am leaving her in the cat box until lunch time to dry and to keep her on light food of just a little corn and chopped grape. At lunch time I will return her to the run.

The good news is that the prolapse is now staying in and that her face and comb are a good red colour. The thing that worries me is that there is no reason for a young bird to have a prolapse so I worry that there may something going on inside her to have caused this. If she was an old bird I could understand it but I can’t work out why she would have a prolapse.

We can only wait and see if she fully recovers and keep hoping that she will. Provided there are no set backs I hope to leave her in the run from this afternoon without bathing her again. She should be able to clean herself and would probably be happier doing so than having me do it for her.

This afternoon

I put Rusty back in the run and she had a quick scratch and peck and then once again went straight to a dust bath. She already had a mucky bottom and I hoped a dust bath, without honey, might help to clean her. The dust just stuck to the poop instead of the honey and she ended up looking exactly the same as before I had bathed her.

Rusty and Apricot peck together

Rusty looks good apart from a mucky bottom once more

Rusty goes straight to a dust bath

Soon after this Rusty went and sat in the nest box.

Rusty is settled in the nest box

Rusty is due to go broody and on this occasion I think that would be the best thing for her and I will leave her to it. It would give her break from egg laying and time to rest and heal and it will also mean she eats less and poops less.

She had been in the nest box for a few hours and I was just wondering if I should lift her out for a break when she came out on her own. She had a bit of spinach and a good long drink of water. She then went and perched in the corner of the run.

Rusty perched in the corner of the run

Her bottom looks as dirty now as before her bath

I took the opportunity to get another photo of her bottom. It looks the same as yesterday but earlier on it was really poopy and now it is really dusty so it is a sort of improvement.

Provided there are no set backs I am just going to leave Rusty to it now. I am hopeful that the longer the prolapse stays in the better the chance of getting her fully back to normal.

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The second half of the day

I am repeating some of what I have said in the comments (sorry), but wanted to it put here for those who may not have read the comments.

I put Rusty in the run at lunch time to poop and exercise. What I wasn’t expecting was for her to promptly have a dust bath. On the positive side this means she is feeling a bit better but it also meant that the dust stuck to the honey! I was a bit worried about this and e-mailed Terry to ask if it was okay to leave her like that. Terry, bless her, replied quickly and said not to worry about the dust as long as the honey isn’t attracting insects.

Rusty preened and perched up with Freckles. She didn’t go to the nest box as I had expected her to, which I think is good, because she isn’t wanting to push and the prolapse has stayed in place.

I put Rusty in the run at lunch time.

The next minute she was having a dust bath

Her bottom now has dust stuck to the honey

She is looking more herself

Here she is at the end of the day

I have decided that in the morning I will bath her again to get rid of the dust. I will leave her in the cat box to dry for the morning, after towel drying her as best I can, with water and a little corn and a chopped grape once more. This will stop her eating pellets and should stop her from egg laying.

At lunch time I will return her to the run again and all being well I will leave her to it. As long as the prolapse stays in place I think she will be better off in the run and I hope that she will return to normal. I am feeling more hopeful now than I was this morning. I am still keeping everything crossed.

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The next day

I e-mailed Terry from “The Hen Cam” for advice. She has dealt with two hens with prolapse, successfully. She said to wash her gently with water. Push the prolapse back in and smear with honey.

Honey is hydrophobic and sticky and she said it worked better than anything else she had tried. It’s also a natural antibiotic.

As soon as the shops opened my husband went out for the honey as we didn’t have any in. I soaked Rusty in a bowl of warm water and cleaned her as best I could. It was really difficult to get her clean. By the time I had done that the prolapse appeared to have gone back in so I just smeared it with honey. I dried her as best I could and put her in the cat box on a towel.

I gave her a dish of water and a dish with a little corn and a chopped grape. She ate some grape. Terry said to keep her on light food and water for a couple of days to reduce the poop and the straining.

My biggest worry now is that all this will have stressed her. I really hope I have done the right thing and am willing her to get better.

Rusty after her bath

I give her some chopped grape to help her recuperate

I will have to go out shortly to do my deliveries. When I get back I plan on letting her into the run for a poop and exercise then will put her back in the cat box. I will report back later.

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How Rusty’s prolapse is progressing

I rang the vets at four thirty to see if Rusty was ready for collection as they hadn’t contacted me. I was told she was ready for collection so I went to get her.

When I arrived the vet had left. I asked what after care I would need to do and the nurse didn’t know. She said to keep an eye on her and she would ask the vet to call me tomorrow to let me know. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more information for me.

When I got Rusty home she looked a bit better.

She was looking like her usual self

A bit blurred but this was how Rusty’s vent looked when I first got her home

She did an enormous poop which was like a broody poop. There was no poop in the cat box so she must have been holding it all afternoon.

She had a scratch in the soil and then a preen and some pellets so everything seemed normal. Then she went to the nest box. I thought that if she wanted to sit as if broody that would be fine but she was pulsing like she was pushing again. I worried that if she thinks she needs to lay she will push out the prolapse again. I decided to lift her from the nest box and close them.

She was settled back in the nest box

I lifted her out and inspected her and this is how she looked.

This was how she was before bedtime

I was dismayed to find that she has pushed out the prolapse again and is also mucky once more.

I am worried now that she will keep pushing it out. I don’t know what to do next. I think that tomorrow I will try bathing her which I have read helps as well as cleaning her. I read that honey can be used and David said Terry “The Hen Cam” used it but I don’t know what type of honey or what I am supposed do with it. I have looked at Terry’s archives and can’t find it so in desperation I have e-mailed her and asked for her advice.

I will update again tomorrow. I am so worried but I am not ready to give up on her and will do whatever I can to try to fix this.

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We have another problem

Yesterday Rusty wanted to spend the day in the nest box. I assumed she was broody again. She had a three week break after her last broody spell and had now been laying for three weeks so it was her normal pattern. She was raising her tail as she does when broody. I lifted her out of the nest box each time I went in which is what I usually do and after three days of this she comes out of it.

There was an egg in the afternoon which I thought could be her egg. Rusty and Freckles both lay round eggs so it would have belonged to one or other of them but Rusty often gets one last egg laid during her first day of being broody so this was typical for her.

At bedtime she was in the nest box once more so I closed the nest box to get her to roost in her usual position. In the morning she was back in the nest box. I lifted her out and saw that she had a really mucky bottom.

I bathed her bottom in warm water with a little washing up liquid and cleaned her as best I could and dried her with a soft cloth. It was then that I could see that something was horribly wrong. She had a red, protruding, swelling. I suspected a prolapse and googled it. Sure enough this is a prolapse and I read that early treatment would give the best chance of recovery. It would need to be pushed back in. I rang the vet straight away.

I am putting these photos here in case they help anyone else to diagnose this. Be warned it is not pretty.

Poor Rusty

She has a prolapse

My local vet was fully booked but she told me to go to their sister practice twenty minutes away and the vet there would see me as soon as possible. I have to say that I am lucky to have a vet with a sister practice which means being seen quickly and also a vet that is experienced with chickens.

I put Rusty in the cat box and took her in. The vet said she would give a local anesthetic and then push the prolapse back in and put in a stitch to hold it in place. She called me back in and said that she couldn’t put in a stitch because Rusty was still having the urge to push. She had given her some anti inflammatory cream and wanted to keep her in for the day so that she could push the prolapse back in each time Rusty pushed it out again.

I left Rusty there but went back with a water dish and a dish of mash, seeds and chopped grape. I didn’t want her to go all day without anything and thought a bit of sugar might help her. I returned home to wait for the vet to call me when she needed collecting. It was lucky that by chance I had no deliveries.

When I got back home I researched again and will share my findings here in case it helps anyone else.

Symptoms are a mucky bottom, a large, fleshy, swelling, protruding from the vent, blood and frequently visiting the nest box. I now wonder if she wasn’t going broody after all.

It is essentially a chicken’s insides coming out.

Early  treatment is key to recovery and preventing it from reocurring. The bottom must be washed, at least I got that right. Wearing gloves lubricated with a water based lubricant the protruding tissue must be gently pushed back into the vent.

The swollen tissue must be treated to help shrink it down so that it stays in place. Antibiotics should be given if there is abrasion to the tissue to prevent infection.

Common causes are laying too young, under weight and under nourished, older and obese or holding droppings for a long period of time. None of these apply to Rusty so I can’t understand why this has happened.

It did say that some believe it can just be in their genes.

They will need monitoring vigilantly for their lifetime.

I really hope Rusty is going to be okay. I am keeping everything crossed. She has always seemed the most robust of my seramas so I am at a loss as to why this has happened. I couldn’t bear to lose her. I will report back later.

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Little and large together

I was surprised to find Cinnamon on top of the shelter with Speckles. I hadn’t seen her up there before. I have seen her on top of the other shelter quite often but not on top of this one. It is a good comparison to their difference in their size.

Little and large together

They do the beak to beak stare

Speckles does this to all the little girls and the little girls also do it to each other. My husband says they are passing telepathic rays to each other.

A few minutes later Speckles jumped down from the shelter and I wondered if Cinnamon could get down.

Suddenly she floated down to the ground and went on her way, answering my question. They are funny little girls.

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