Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Why Do I?

Why do I do these things? Over two weeks ago I heard a chicken cacophony from the back yard, and it wasn't the usual scuffle over a bug, or heady announcement, "I'M GOING TO LAY AN EGG!" or "I AM LAYING AN EGG!" or "I JUST LAYED AN EGG!" No it was frightful noise, and I could see hens flying in every direction, and the rooster, Toulouse, trying to corral the girls. My adrenaline kicked in and I ran outside, couldn't see what the matter was, but then I heard. One does not usually hear a red-tail hawk lift off, but I heard arduous flapping - and I knew - he had a hen. I didn't know at the time, but he was behind a tall fence working at killing our oldest and dearest Light Brahma hen Liza Jane. This is crazy because she is huge and heavy. Anyway when I heard this obvious sound of air resistance to his wings I yelled as loudly as I could, "Hey!" Then he dropped her - hard - to the sidewalk, and flew away. I love red-tails, but not when they are killing my girls! I found her, unconscious with a drizzle of blood running from her beak, scooped her up and revived her. Over the next few days, although disoriented, she seemed to be recovering. She took small pecks of food, and drank a little water. (And here's a note for anyone who thinks chickens are not sentient beings. I found her sister, Turnipseed, the first night, nestled over her in the nest box - and my hens never share nest boxes. To me that is love.) But over the last 10 days she has been declining - almost as if she has forgotten how to eat and drink and walk. So I thought, "Just let nature take it's course." Today, however, I just couldn't take watching her starve to death anymore, so I called my vet. (They are used to me, it's O.K.) They do not do chickens but they told me to come on in. Gordon took one look at her and said, "You know she is 3/4 dead." I told him I knew that and if he thought we should euthanize her, O.K. But then he lifted her emaciated body and she flapped her wings. He said, "I wondered if she could do that." Then he rolled his eyes at me and said, "I'm not promising you anything." He then picked her up and took her to the back and administered IV fluids and gave her a shot of steroids. When he brought her back in he had too vet techs with him. They were carrying a can of nutrient dense cat food. They admitted they had fed her a few bites by force-feeding. They said that they'd be amazed if she is alive tomorrow, but if so, bring her back in for more fluids. They gave me the food and an eyedropper with which to feed her, and instructed me to feed her often. They are big softies just like me. They charged me twenty dollars, and I know what vet visits usually cost...
Oh Little Liza, Little Liza Jane

The Hopelessly Devoted Turnipseed

So here I am, feeding a half-dead chicken in my studio that already smells like a barnyard. The boston terrier, Jasper, is adding to the ambience with his steady stream of gaseous output. If Liza Jane lives she will not be able to free range anymore. That hawk was back today, circling beautifully in a clear sky, looking for sustenance.

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