It's springtime in the Rockies, and it's very muddy, and today was muddier than usual due to snow last night. I made the mistake of letting all thirteen girls out of the pen to get some exercise and do some worm hunting. I took the opportunity to clean the pen which consists of construction sand. I looked up as they started returning and noticed they were tracking in an unusual amount of mud. The feet that were returning were so caked with mud that they looked like they were wearing booties. Half of the flock have feathered feet, so I decided to set up a wash basin with warm water and children's bubble-bath and wash them. I do this as a matter of regular flock management every few weeks anyway to avoid foot-rot from caked on poo and dirt, so this wasn't anything new. But on a few of the feet, and not necessarily on the feathered ones, I found mud balls wedged in between toes and foot pads that had to have been very uncomfortable, and were so hardened they had to have been there for a while. My flock loves to scratch in the dormant garden beds and compost piles, but I'm not going to let them out again when it's this muddy. I'm glad I discovered those mud balls and got rid of them before they caused any serious problems. That children's bubble-bath liquid is great for washing crusty butts, too, since it doesn't require rinsing. A few got butt tune-ups today while we were at it.