Ducky and her orthopedic shoes

This is Ducky.

These are Ducky's feet.

Notice how they curl?
Ducky can't straighten her toes.

In all my years of raising baby chicks, this is the first time I've encountered this.
I first noticed Ducky's feet when she was 2 days old..... I could tell she wasn't able to walk or stand very steady like the other chicks, so I picked her up and was shocked at what I saw. She also seemed to have some other problems- she was not interested in food or water and she was a lot smaller than any of the other chicks. I swallowed hard and thought maybe it was best to let nature take it's course, if you know what I mean....
But you know me- I couldn't let go without at least giving Ducky a fighting chance.

She was at once put on some drops of some special liquid baby formula (powdered vitamins and sugar water) and after spending several hours on the internet researching chicks with curled or deformed feet I found what I had been looking for. Apparently this is not an uncommon occurrence, and frankly I was a little surprised that I had never had this happen before. I'm still not sure what caused Ducky's problem, but according to some of the helpful websites I found it could have been caused by several different things. I also found the directions for making splints for the toes to correct the problem using cardboard and tape- but only if it was caught in time. I was optimistic that Ducky was young enough that her feet could be fixed- that is, if  she survived the next few days.

A day passed, then another... then another...

After three days of giving her my special formula, she seemed to be getting a little stronger.

Ducky was.... well, plucky!

I brought her into the house to fit her for her special booties to correct the toes, and had to get out my magnifying glasses because her feet were so tiny. To make matters worse, Silkies have 5 toes instead of 4 like other chickens do, and trying to cram the little toes of a squirmy baby chick onto a tiny piece of cardboard was going to be a real test of my patience. (Not to mention eyesight.)
But if Ducky was going to have a chance for normal feet it was now or never.

Lily, meet Ducky.
Ducky, Lily.

 Here are the "soles" of her booties....

Here we are with one shoe on, one to go; then it's just a matter of trimming off the excess tape and cardboard without cutting Ducky's feet. (As if this hasn't been nerve-wracking enough already...)
And here she is with her new shoes! Maybe this will help explain why I named her Ducky- she looks like she has webbed feet.
She continued getting her daily formula to build up her strength.

I waited for 3 days before taking off the booties.....

Here are Ducky's feet now!

Unfortunately, she lost the left shoe at some point without me noticing and it didn't have time to work like the other one did. You can see the middle toe is still curled some, but the right foot- which was actually worse than the left one anyway- looks great. The best part is she can walk and stand just like normal! I could splint the left one again, but Ducky seems to be glad to be rid of her special shoes and for now she is walking great so I may just leave it be.

Ducky still has along way to go... she is so much smaller than the other chicks. But she is back with the others and doing good, and I'll continue to give her formula until I'm satisfied she is eating and drinking like she should. Ducky has proven to be a tough little gal so far, so I'm hoping for the best!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!


Friday Farm Fotos: A little "Biddy" surprise....

If you've read this blog for any time at all, you know my love for baby chicks borders on insanity.
However, I try to contain myself so I won't become one of those people on that Animal Hoarders show that has 800 chickens running around.
I keep the Silkie population down by gathering the eggs as soon as I can because there is nothing those hens love more than to go broody and hatch babies.

But I think I've been outsmarted.

One day while cleaning weeds out around the coop I heard some familiar peeping noises coming from nest box # 3......


Yep, definitely outsmaah-ted.

Apparently, one of those sneaky little hens had an egg tucked under her so tightly that the egg went unnoticed during my nightly inspection of the nest boxes- even after I stuck my hand under her and felt around.
(Which I'm sure she enjoyed very much...)


Well, you know me- I wouldn't want a baby chick to have to grow up all alone...
*snicker snort*
So, I let a few eggs lay around until someone got in the mood to sit on them.
(which of course took about 5 minutes....)

And a couple of weeks later-

You know what they say- chickens are like potato chips, you can't have just one.
Or twenty.

Happy Friday, everyone!


From my sewing room: A Special Gift

My nephew Nick, 1989
There are milestones in my life from a few years ago that I can recall very well; graduation from college, buying a car on my own for the first time, my first "real" job.....
and all these events took place around the time my nephew Nick was born.

Nick and Shelby, 2011
 And now the little baby boy that was born to my brother and sister-in-law 22 years ago is a wonderful and handsome young man with a bright future and an adorable fiancĂ© to whom he is engaged to be married to this October.

(And he'll be sure to tell you he is my favorite nephew, too, and he is....
but he is also my only nephew. *grin*)

For their wedding I wanted to give them a special gift, and once I saw they had black towels on their wish list I thought personalizing them with a simple white monogram with their last initial (Y) would be just the thing. (Nuthin' fancy, because they're not into the "fru-fru" stuff. *grin*)

I got to work by first digitizing a monogram on the computer..... this is actually the hardest part because the computer design has to be "clean" enough for the stitches to look neat once it's ready to embroider. Once I'm happy with the design, it's as simple as transferring the design to the computer card and popping it into the machine.
Next comes the most nerve-wracking part for me: placement of the design. I have to carefully measure to make sure it's centered perfectly in the middle and not off to one side.

After I mark where the design will be, the hoop is placed over the top along with an embroidery "topper" to keep the stitches from sinking into the nap of the towels so the design will look nice and smooth. Once the machine has finished sewing, you just tear it away, leaving nothing but the design. It looks and feels a lot like cellophane, but is a lot thinner and is also water soluble in case it doesn't all tear off at first try.

The machine takes over from there....




This is how the design looks on the bath towel;
I just had to resize the design to make it smaller for the hand towels and washcloths.

I also commissioned my friend Dani, who has a wonderful new ETSY shop, to make a special stitchery for their bathroom- done in black work with a black frame.
Thanks, Dani- I know they're going to love it.

Now if I can just convince myself he's all grown up and soon-to-be married...
Time passes so quickly, doesn't it?

Happy Tuesday, everyone!


Lily wants to ride

Which do you think Lily would rather do-
eat or ride in the car?


Friday Farm Fotos: Summer Evening

It's a warm summer evening around the farm....

Lily is tired of being inside all day and is on the move.

"You talking about me again?"

The time for cleaning out the fence row is after the sun goes down.

Instead of picking grass, the sheep are enjoying their fan before it's turned off for the night. 

Big Bird has been going to bed early since her partner in crime, Sarge, is no longer here to keep her out late chasing bugs.....

Lily wants to take a ride on the 4-wheeler.

Across the ridge you can almost see the humidity in the air.

79 degrees at sunset- a little cooler than last night's 86.
I think I'll grab a jacket.

Across the road someone's dogs are barking... probably at deer.

The moon slowly appears as the sun disappears....

And the barn light that comes on automatically at dark means it's time to call it a day.

Goodnight, world....

Happy Friday, everyone!


Goodbye Sarge

Sunset over the barn

It's a feeling I never get used to... the feeling that comes over me whenever I lose a member of my farm family. No matter how many animals I've lost (and believe me, it's been a bunch...) I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that they're gone.
Even days afterwards I'm still counting heads and missing one....

Yesterday I lost one of my favorite hens in the whole world... Sarge.
Now just for the record, Sarge was no sweet cuddly chicken who loved to be picked up and held or made on over... but she was so unique and quirky it was laughable and this endeared her to me. She was odd-looking from the beginning; she had a huge comb that made you swear at first glance she was a rooster, and beautiful dark plumage around her head and neck that gave way to golden mottled feathers on her back and bottom. But it was her personality that made her such a hoot... almost like a drill sergeant she made the other hens walk the line. There was no question who was at the top of the pecking order in her coop, and if you tried to buck the system you were rewarded with a swift peck on the head. And when I came to the coop with treats, the other hens would gleefully come running while Sarge would cock her head to the side and glance at me with one eye as if to say, "this better be good."

I was so very sad when I found the pile of beautiful feathers she had left behind in her struggle with the predator, but I had to smile when I saw another pile... then another pile... I have no doubt she put up some kind of fight, and I had to chuckle when I pictured the predator thinking to itself that she was probably the toughest piece of meat it had ever tried to devour.
Her sister and constant companion Big Bird is very silent and still today... almost as if she is missing her and waiting for her to come back.

I started to post a picture of the feathers that were left behind, but then I thought, "no, that's not fitting enough for Sarge".... so instead I'll post my favorite picture of her- the way I will always remember her, with her head tilted and giving me the "look".

Sleep tight, Sarge..... you will be missed.