A week before we were heading to the Netherlands, Harvey injured himself.

Harvey Hospital
May 2023

He couldn’t stand up and if we tried to stand him upright, he could stand on one leg for a short period of time, but had to sit down soon after. At first we thought he might have Marek’s disease which would mean he was unlikely to survive for much longer (it’s a very deadly disease). We kept him in our ‘Harvey hospital’ aka our porch for one night, but when he woke us up at 4.30 am, we decided to put him in our then still empty greenhouse. There is good news and bad: it soon appeared he had injured his leg (or hip joint) and that it wasn’t the dreaded Marek’s, but there was not much improvement: he didn’t eat or drink and he was obviously in pain. Thanks to the magic of the internet and forums, I found out that you can give aspirin to chickens, so that’s what he got: a tiny scraping of an aspirin tablet in water administered to him using a syringe (one can only wonder what the Boots’ assistant thought when I said the aspirin and syringe were for my sick rooster!).  But it worked wonders! About an hour later he was able to eat the cat food and drink some water. And because he now ate again, I was able to give him the aspirin scrapings twice a day mixed in cat food instead of fighting with him to administer it via a syringe.

But...

it was time to go the Netherlands and he wasn’t quite well enough to be out with the girls again, so we had to make the difficult decision to keep him in the greenhouse until we came back. The neighbour did a wonderful job looking after Harvey (and also the other 10 chickens and 2 cats), it’s a shame that Harvey didn’t appreciate the care much: he bullied our neighbour once he felt better (Bad boy, Harvey!). In the end he was locked in the greenhouse for 12 days with the girls hanging around outside, wondering where their dutiful man was. We came back and the first thing we did was release Harvey and boy, was he eager! They all were very happy to be reunited again and the majority of the girls kept following him about for some time. I am so relieved he is better again as we are meaning to breed with him and a lame rooster won’t have been able to do that.

We had a really beautiful and healthy looking firethorn which formed a barrier between a public path and our back garden. It had lots of berries last winter, but got infected by a fungal infection which I thought would kill it. I had to prune back considerably with only a couple of sorry looking greenish branches left. I thought it would never survive this fungal attack, but miracles still happen and I recently noticed that the firethorn has got some fresh young growth on the two branches it has left. So, I am keeping my fingers crossed that it is strong enough to grow back some branches and keep on living. If you have an empty wall or screen, consider planting a firethorn against it as they are really good for wildlife with the flowers providing nectar for bees and bumblebees, the berries providing food for sparrows, starlings and finches and because of the thorns, the bush gives shelter to nesting birds too.

Fruit bushes are all flowering now and the bumblebees have come out and soon it will be summer and we’ll be out enjoying barbecues, warm weather and (homemade) cider!


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