The chickens have gotten sick lately. Some of them were so sick, they died! Four dead, so far. Then I noticed something terribly disgusting- worms in the poop!
No photo. I gagged.
I got ahold of our state poultry expert (Seriously. I asked him his job title three times!) and he seemed to think that it was a fairly fixable and common problem. He recommended a de-wormer. But then it gets a little tricky, because you can't eat the eggs of a chicken until the dewormer is through its system. The FDA doesn't test dewormers for laying hens, mostly because factory farmed chickens don't get worms, because they eat off of conveyor belts. BLAAHAHAHAHA! Yuck!
So, I tentatively ordered the dewormer on line, and it should be here tomorrow.
Meanwhile, I felt like I ought to do something NOW to stop the chickens from dropping dead!
And also, my fifteen year old niece flew in from California to visit. And she says, all casual like,
"Oh, worms? Yeah, I did this report on Scotland, and this herb called Mugwort will get rid of worms."
It took me awhile to figure out the connection with Scotland, but I'll get to that later. I looked it up on the internet, and it took some serious searching, but yeah, Mugwort does get rid of worms.
We consulted the local hippy friends at the health food co-op, and they didn't have any Mugwort, but they gave me the number of Community Pharmacy in Madison, which is the solar nexus and epicenter of all good hippie vibes, and of course they had some!
Little Z and Wonder Niece and I then went on a fantastical road trip to the Mythical (and somewhat real) Community Pharmacy, which advertised sexual healing on its banner out front. Once inside, we found the appropriate counter: the one with the shelves of large glass jars behind it. I love large glass jars full of fancy herbs.
A pretty girl with a petite mustache helped us. She inquired as to what the Mugwort was for, and when I said it was for deworming chickens, she said,
This is what it looked like:
I put some in the chickens' food, which was eaten pretty quickly by some of the chickens, and then I brewed it into a tea and filled their waterer with it. It smelled pleasant. I might make some for myself later.
Then, Wonder Niece showed me her report on Scotland, which turned out to be a report on Scottish food. She had written that Caraway seeds, "keep away thieves and vandals."
"How do they do that?" I asked, suddenly much interested in keeping away thieves and vandals, myself.
"It's used in witchcraft," she explained.
Then I read on, and sure enough, she had written that Mugwort was used to treat worms. I found the report on Scottish food to be quite informative, although it did place a little more emphasis on seasonings and witchcraft than what I would consider to be necessary. (I've been to Scotland. I must have gone to the wrong places.) It had some true entertainment value, though, for sure. She included some Wiccan verses.
"What did you get on this?" I asked her.
"Oh. That's about right."
If the Mugwort doesn't work for our chickens, the report contained some incantations which might also be helpful. Or I might also try that antibiotic that the state poultry expert recommended. Or maybe just the Wiccan chanting. Either or.
All joking aside, I'm really glad for Wonder Niece being here to make that helpful suggestion. Today was the first day in four that no chickens died.