Managing a small flock with fibromyalgia?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by KrakenQueen, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. KrakenQueen

    KrakenQueen Out Of The Brooder

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    I suffer from fibromyalgia (and the cfs that comes with it), tinnitus, dysmenorrhea, and endometriosis. It is uncertain whether I may be working my way towards arthritis. We do our best to try and manage my issues but as it happens, fibro tends to take cycles and 2012-2013 has been a long and unpleasant one. Sadly it is keeping me from doing the things that give me the most joy..

    For those of you with debilitating fibromyalgia, how do you manage care for you flock? On my worst days I am incapable of using my hands, arms, shoulders and back. Sometimes my ankles and shins give me a really hard time too. I am so desperate to keep a small flock, preferably 3 hens, but I always worry whether I would make a good hen mother on the days where I can't function. Suggestions on this, and the best chickens for someone with hearing sensitivities would be very appreciated!

    The concept that we've come up with is a run of about 18'x6' alongside our garage with the coop to be built inside and the coop door to open into the run. The run would also be surrounding a well groomed holly tree in the center (good perching spot), would hens be okay with this space on days where I can't let them free range our yard? I'm more or less looking into breeds that can tolerate the coastal Georgia heat and humidity, but would also be easy to handle/"friendly"/calm (because of my arms) and less likely to be overly-gabby (neighbor proximity). Birds that are medium layers since, besides a few friends, I would really be the only person eating or using the eggs. I've been reading up for the last year and some, but at times I still feel I need someone on the outside to give me a push in the right direction.

    This probably wouldn't happen until 2014 as it is a difficult decision for me to make.
    Thank you for any ideas, suggestions and experiences. They will be appreciated.
     
  2. bamachicks8

    bamachicks8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Well I'm not sure if keeping chickens is right for you. I'm not saying it is or isn't just that I don't know. Anyways a good solution if you aren't able to keep them but would still like to visit with them maybe get some eggs is to have a relative friend neighbor who has or already wants chickens to keep them and you can help with cost. Also I'm not sure of your financial situation but if possible you could hire someone maybe a trusted and reliable teen(haha) in the 4h club or something to help care for them on the days that you are unable to tend to them. Good luck and let us know your decision
     
  3. KrakenQueen

    KrakenQueen Out Of The Brooder

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    Those are understandable considerations, thank you Bama. Though we have friends in our area, none are interested in keeping even a few hens, and I'd have to look around for a 4-h club here. Worth a thought for sure, and I will keep everyone updated with my decision.
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Okay, keep in mind I'm a chicken enabler........

    I think it's doable. That size run would be plenty big for three hens.

    I have a smaller coop where I keep my bantam cochins I use for broodies. I have one of those gallon waterers and a large feeder. I have 4 bantam hens and only have to water them once a week or so, and only fill the feeder every few days. You can set things up like that to lessen the day to day work needed.

    Look into the deep litter method. I clean my coop usually once a year. Lots of info on here about that.

    My first thought when reading your post was you sound like you'd be a great home for someone's 2 year old hens. They don't lay as much, but they're older, more settled, and they'd love the home. My older hens have laid nicely through the warmer, lighter months even as old as five or six years old. I know chicks are cute and all, but I'd think with your limitations I'd go with older birds.

    Only other thing that jumped out at me was the tree in the run. If the hens can get into the tree, raccoons can get to the hens.

    I would also try to find a 4-H or FFA teen who would be able to help you. There are great kids in those programs and they always need money!
     
  5. arlock

    arlock Out Of The Brooder

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    Michigan's "thumb"
    I was going to suggest contacting your local 4-H/FFA group as well, until I read down and saw that somebody beat me to the punch....The other thing, if the kid/kids live nearby, they might volunteer their time just for the experience, especially with a small flock.
     
  6. KrakenQueen

    KrakenQueen Out Of The Brooder

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    Hah, well, I accept enablers and hold-your-hosses, in the end it's the decision made by me.

    What first popped out to me was the mention of older hens, 2 year olds. And I will have to happily accept that as a consideration- I've always had a soft spot for older animals. The birds would be pets whether they laid for a year or for another 6. Your mention of the deep litter, I've read about that before, and as I love to garden I feel that would be a very good use of their litter as compost. My question would be whether it is possible to do since the coop would be inside our garage. As for the raccoons, I've seen all of 2 in the last 4 or 5 years in this general area, we're mostly overrun with opossum- could they be a problem? Plus, the entire run would be closed at the top, just have areas where the trunks would have access through. I'm having difficulty describing it, but it would be blocked off, we do have hawks and eagles.

    I also have a husband to contract into feeding/watering when I can't.
     
  7. spotsplus

    spotsplus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I deal with Fibro also. I have my chicken area set up so that my hens can free range during the day and they go to thier coop at night. I just have to open and close the door. I think your run is plenty of space for 3 hens. I have a medium size bowl for water that is easy to fill every other day. I bring a scoop full of pellets out each am. During winter I use a heated water bucket so I don't have to deal with breaking ice. The deep litter method works well- you can hire a local teen or 4-Her once a year to help you clean out the coop (or do it all if needed).

    My daily routine: in am fill small bowl with water if needed, pour scoop of pellets in another bowl. Open coop door. Enjoy watching chickens for a few moments. PM- enjoy chickens, collect eggs, close coop door. That's it!

    I think this is something you can do. I find the joy I get from my flock more than outweighs the small amount of daily care they need to keep them healthy.
     
  8. jdywntr

    jdywntr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think the biggest concerns on a daily basis are fresh water and feed. Cleaning does not need to be done on a daily basis. Eggs should be gathered twice a day in hot weather but if you don't need a ton, so be it. Or if nestboxes are inside the garage then it won't be as big of a deal. I am gathering your intent is the coop in garage, run alongside (just want to make sure I'm correct)

    Again, if I am correct in assuming there is someone else in the home, a spouse or otherwise, would they be able to assist in daily feeding? If not, there are autowaterers and feeders that you can get though they are a bit more expensive than a bucket and a bowl. [​IMG] You just need to ensure that they are in proper working order after installation and periodically make sure they work. During hot summers, extra waterers, just in case, are always great. If they are without feed for a day, they'll be fine but water is imperative.

    If there are days that you are unable to get outside, I would opt for a VERY secure coop. So fencing (preferably hardware cloth) on the sides and the top, that way you are in the least likely situation to have a predator come and not be able to get out to investigate. Also, unless someone will always be there to close the coop pop door, an automatic door closer ( again a bit expensive).

    Another concern, there are no quiet chickens. They don't make a racket, though they are happy to let everyone know when they lay an egg and people will know when something scary happens. Many breeds are calm. As suggested, maybe getting adult hens or at least started pullets would be best. Babies require a lot of work. Go to the breeds tab and you can search for specifics. Orpingtons and Barred Rocks are large breeds I've had that are calm. Easter Eggers are a bit smaller. Silkies are very friendly calm and you'll just need to use 2 eggs to make a recipe.

    Again, assuming your hearing sensitivities are to loud noise, I wouldn't be too concerned. Even when they are clucking up a storm, you can usually make a noise, whistle, clap, sing, that will get the girls to stop and listen.

    Lastly, make sure that chickens are legal where you are. Follow whatever guidelines there are and you can let your neighbors know that you are getting them. Nothing beats fresh eggs to make people forget the bit of clucking they hear.

    I think that this is completely doable for you. You just need to make sure that you are more prepared ahead of time (especially than me LOL) and have all of your ducks in a row. If there are times that you are laid up for days, then you will need an assistant to make sure that the girls basic needs are met (food and water).

    [​IMG]
     
  9. PoultryGirly

    PoultryGirly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You could keep chickens. You would have something to look forward to every morning because all poultry are lovely! On days that you are having more trouble, you could buy an automatic watered, feeder, and door opener so you don't have to check on them early or even in one day. If you decided that, I would check on them at least every other day. Good luck and keep us posted.
     
  10. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I suffer from "mild" fibromyalgia, at least compared to what you've described. With that said, I also have days when it is impossible to get out and care for my flock the way I prefer. I do force myself to go out at least on the third day (if an episode lasts that long) to top off feeders, etc.

    Because I don't always know when I might have one of those days, I have an automatic pop door on the coop and an automatic waterer IN the coop. It's the outside waterers I have to fill......

    I use the deep litter method so there is no coop cleaning of a strenuous nature. Occasional poop scraping for surfaces and some nesting material to change when I feel up to it.

    Your coop and run arrangements sounds very good for your situation. My flock ranges freely over my property, which is just under two thirds of an acre but fully fenced. My house is only 890 square feet, so there's more land for them. ;)

    With close to fifty chickens of various breeds, twenty-some ducks, four turkeys and two geese, there is surprisingly not as much heavy work to be done as I worried.

    I have learned to use a dolly for moving fifty pound feed bags to the coop from the back of my RAV4. Or not; I sometimes leave bags in the back and only pull one out when it must be used. Depends on my pain and energy levels.

    I find I can do more in the late afternoons and evenings. Trust me, I can hardly wait until the days are longer so I can appreciate my flock more AND get things done at the same time.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2013

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