As you get older you find yourself saying a lot of things that you never thought you’d say. Some of them are things you’ve heard before but swore wouldn’t come out of your own mouth until they did. And some of them are just things that would never have occurred to you would be legitimate sentences that anyone, let alone you, would actually utter.
I’ve spent much of the last week and a half hand-feeding a chicken.
In my defense, it is a fairly sick chicken.
We got three salmon faverolles from a friend of a friend back in January, and they were lovely little things as chickens go. It’s a pretty docile breed and lays a lot of eggs, and we figured two of them were hens so that was good. Lauren could show the rooster and one of the hens at the county fair this summer, and then we’d keep the two hens for eggs. The rooster would go to a different friend of a friend who would probably make soup of it, unless someone wanted it for their flock. Sometimes you get lucky.
A while ago Lauren went downstairs to the basement to check on them – you can only keep chickens in your living room for so long before the place picks up that distinctive chicken tang in the air – and came back telling us that one of the hens was clearly not right. And she was not.
She has what is called wry-neck, which is one of the weirder things that happens to chickens now and then. Basically her head tilted over to the right a full 180-degrees, which of course plays havoc with things like standing, walking, drinking, and eating. It’s most likely a vitamin deficiency (probably Vitamin E and selenium) aggravated by some genetic something or other, though why the other two salmon faverolles hatched from the same brood and living with the same diet didn’t get it too is an interesting question.
The only real cure is to make sure they get enough food and water and supplement it with the missing vitamins and minerals.
Lauren took the opportunity to name the poor thing Ryland, which only goes to show something, I’m sure.
We weren’t sure Ryland would make it for the first few days, and there have been times when we’re still not sure. But every morning we come down to the little cage in the living room where we’ve isolated her so the other chickens don’t peck at her and she’s still there, curled into a little ball.
She’s got better control over her head now, but is still a long way from cured.
So a couple of times a day we mix up some food for her – some crumbled feed, a few vitamins, perhaps a scrambled egg (oddly enough, good for chickens) or some plain yogurt, some water – wrap her up in a hand towel so that only her head peaks out, and sit there while she pecks away at it. It’s not bad. You can fire up the television and watch whatever suits you while this is going on, and if you remember to vacuum up after things work out fine.
I am continually amazed at how many of the things I never thought I’d say or do revolve around poultry.