Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Hawk and the Chicken Feed

Last Wednesday evening Ellie started throwing up and spent the whole night emptying her stomach. I had no idea what was going on. We were on day three of trialling a new squash (white pattypan squash), we were giving her pork with quite a bit of fat content, and she was exposed to the flu the day before. All three muddied the water in figuring out what it was. The squash was pulled, the pork was frozen, and she was switched to beef broth and beef puree. Thursday she seemed better but fussy. There was no vomit. And then Friday she started pooping.

It has been a LONG time since we have seen such a classic FPIES response out of Ellie. This would have been completely typical for her a year ago. I prayed it was not the squash, knowing that either the pork or the squash as a fail would be a major disappointment. She had self-limited her pork intake before, so perhaps this was a build response.

Sometime late Friday morning after I had already changed a couple diapers, I realized that the free-grazing chickens had gotten very quiet. I looked out the kitchen windows and could not see ANY of them anywhere. Finally Moriah (my five year old) spotted them all underneath the coop. What in the world? What were they doing and why were they so quiet? At that point I looked up, and perched on the fence right next to the coop was a large red-tailed hawk. Probably because I had been looking down on the ground I had not noticed.

In a panic I ran out the door to protect our precious grain-free chickens, only to hear Moriah yell "Mommy Ellie pooped again!". Any FPIES mom knows that time is precious in getting that acidic, skin burning funk off of their little bums. UGH! But there were not two of me. Out I ran...right.up.to.the.hawk. Literally. That giant bird was at least two feet high, and I stood jumping up and down and shouting about 5 feet from it. That was as close as I felt comfortable getting, because it did.not.budge. Suddenly I felt a bit intimidated, and backed up looking for something to throw. I grabbed the Frisbee off the lawn and chucked it, and it slowly flapped off.

Now to get the chickens IN the coop. I climbed through the coop because our fantastic chicken run has no door (design flaw I am afraid) and managed to get them all out from under the coop and inside of it. Then I had to figure out how to get into the coop with them, and out the other door without them escaping. All of this with a crying Ellie in the house, of course.

Back into the house I trudged to tend to the burning skin. This time I pulled off her diaper and ....was stopped short. It was full of little, tiny, round, green, .... peas??? What in the world? Where??? I cleaned her up, and continued my inspection. Those most certainly looked like peas. Oh.my.GOSH. About 3 (maybe more) days prior I had spilled some dried split green peas onto the top of an ice chest sitting on the floor in the kitchen while mixing the chicken feed! I had never cleaned it up. I looked over at the ice chest and the little round cup holder on top and sure enough, there were only a few left.

She SNUCK food?? She wont EAT food, or let a spoon get near her face! And now she is sneaking it? I watch her like a hawk!- (a phrase to which I now have personal understanding of). I waited until my mom arrived and showed her the diaper - what do those look like? I need a confirmation? yup. I thought peas too. UGH!

Dried peas would rip through anyone's intestines, and I can not even imagine what damage it did to Ellie's. My heart broke on SO many levels. Sneaking food? Wanting it? Knowing we would say no? How much damage? How many weeks of healing do we need now? How far back has this set her? All because I didn't think to clean it up? Why did I never see her take them? oooooh the questions. But at least I had an answer. It wasn't the pork. It wasn't the squash. It wasn't the flu. It was peas. And I won't be feeding them to the chickens either.

Here we are one week later and she is still having damaged intestine poo. It hurts, and she cries. And we wait. Some day we might get around to actually trying chicken again.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe have a water gun on hand in the backyard for deterring hawks? They will totally go after your chickens! I am proud of them for knowing to hide. Poor Ellie...but I am glad you could trace the source - at least!

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