Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Ugly Underbelly: Heat, Molting and Snakes, Oh My!

Ok, 66 days of more than 100 degrees in Austin this summer. It is past ridiculous. Those 100+ degrees days aren't like a tepid 101 degrees; they are 104 to 106 degrees and let me tell you, that is really hot!

The girls are just plum tuckered out. Eggs only once or twice a week despite our best efforts to cool them, offer ice water, feed them the good stuff.

But I have to tell you, I completely freaked out this morning. Hazel began losing some feathers on her head a few months ago and it didn't get worse, nor did it get better. I dusted for mites and thought, "Oh well." But today I picked her up to give her a once over because her head looked raggedy and noticed something very wrong with her underside.

Familiar with molting? Well, according to my friends at www.BackyardChickens.com, I think this is it:

Yuck. I have found many similar pictures of molting via google images. Not pretty, but normal. I had no idea those were new feathers. In fact, I didn't really want to look too hard.

Now for the snake. I think I know why my girls prefer not to go to their coop on their own anymore. I found a five foot Texas Rat Snake in my yard one evening walking from their coop.
Check this out!
I mentioned in an earlier post that my girls were laying all over the place, well my neighbors two year old discovered six eggs in the corner of my yard and I am certain that is where they moved after Mr. Snake came around. I don't mind the snake, in fact I think they are really cool, but I don't like my eggs being stolen.

I ate store eggs out of desperation and they were so bland.

Anyway, found a nice wine crate and put a decoy egg inside with some fluff and Myrtle has been laying there ever since. Hazel is busy molting. Can't wait for that to stop.