The chicken-lighting experiment is on hold for a while. The entire flock has come down with some sort of nasty respiratory illness, and I lost three of them in three days earlier this week. This is what I get for taking in a stray!
I sent one of the deceased off to UC Davis for testing...they have an awesome free service to test backyard poultry and find out what killed them. Betty (one of several production reds who are all named Betty because I can't tell them apart) seems to have died of a bacterial infection, though I'm still waiting on further testing to find out exactly what. A chicken carcass, double bagged with frozen gelpacks and newspaper insulation, has to be the strangest thing I've ever sent via UPS.
The rest of the flock is on antibiotics and extra vitamins, along with an intense coop-cleaning regimen, and I'm hoping they will pull through. Since I won't eat the eggs while they are on medication, I shut off the light timer to get them some extra rest. I'm still getting about one egg a day and boy I hate throwing them in the compost.
On the brighter side, I'm getting ready for the holidays and making a few presents. I love Christmas/Solstice/whatever-mas, with all the parties and singing and decorations. We've got the tree up, stockings hung, and the mannequins who watch over our living room are dressed up like Christmas elves with ornament bandoliers. One of the gifts I made is the feltboard playset above for one of my cousin's children...hopefully they have as much fun with it as I did.