You all know Kim works hard to keep her chickens safe, healthy and well cared for. She has a small library of chicken books on the shelf and the phone numbers of a handful of experienced chicken-raisers in her phone book for consultations. She is always reading, reading, reading.
One of the things she has learned is that late winter and early spring are a time when lice can be a problem for chickens. Not evil blood-sucking lice, but the relatively innocuous kind that nestle in among a chicken's tail feathers and snack on dead skin cells. They don't cause a chicken real distress, but still...yuck.
Chickens naturally combat insects by having dust baths, but if you want to help them with this, an organic way to prevent and treat lice is to use diatomaceous earth, which is often also used to control slugs and other pests in the garden. For those of you who are not gardeners, it's the powdered form of a sedimentary rock made up of the skeletons of lots and lots of little diatoms. It works against insects by drying out their exoskeletons. So I've heard.
So this week Kim made a trip to the feed store to get a few bags of the stuff, we did some poofing of the powdery stuff into the tail and underwing regions of each chicken, and we sprinkled more along the roosts and in the bedding in the coop. And as a piece de resistance, Kim added some to the chickens' favourite place to take a dust bath: a spot in Chicken Alley, against the wall of the coop.
So there they were this afternoon: soaking up the sun, fluffing up their feathers, flapping dusty pine shavings all around, and giving themselves a spa treatment all at the same time.