Tonight we treated our chickens for scaly leg mites. The general procedure is to dip their legs in oil to smother the mites, but I had the bright thought that a solid oil, like coconut, would be even better because it would form a thick layer on their legs that would last for a while. And while we're at it, why not throw in a little essential oil to soothe the scales and irritate the mites?
This is how I came to be massaging lavender/tea tree scented coconut oil into the feet of 15 nervous chickens.
It went pretty well. We came by night, when the chickens were all asleep and docile, and manflesh pulled them down one by one. It was interesting, because they all started off anxious and pulled their feet away from my touch, but as soon as I started really massaging the oil into their scales they all stopped fighting and even seemed to enjoy it. I really felt like I was giving them a bit of a luxury treatment, which, maybe I was. The mites live under their scales and make everything kind of inflamed and icky, so a gentle oil massage probably felt pretty good.
We'll need to do it a few more times, so I'm interested to see if they remember that it's a good thing and are a little more receptive when we do it again. We'll also be dusting the whole coop with diatomaceous earth to knock the buggers out in the bedding and on the perches.
Earlier today, one of our cats was super interested in a cardboard box near the front door. I thought he was just being a weird cat until Babby said, "What's that on the ground?" I looked closer, and a sad, hard done by alligator lizard was desperately trying to limp away from the cat. He was already missing his tail and sporting some other wounds, but his drive to keep running away gave me hope that he might make it. We threw him into a terrarium we had sitting vacant, filled with soil and leaves from the woods. He sat really still for a while, but has now disappeared, so maybe that's a good sign? Ooooor he's slunk off to die. I suppose we'll find out soon.
We do like our little native lizards, so I'm hoping he makes it and goes on to eat bugs out of our garden for many years.