Friday, January 13, 2006

Cat Chicken?

Can a chicken have nine lives like a cat? We have an Aracauna who seems to.

This girl came with 10 other chicks, who we tried to get a broody mama to adopt. For one reason or another, only four of those chicks made it past the first few days, and only three were around at a week. Those three were carefully cared for by their adoptive mother.

They lived separately from the other chickens, down at the barn with the goats. Eventually Mama Hen decided she was done and left them to fend for themselves. They did well, roosting way up in the rafters of the loafing shed at night. But our terrible coyote problem this fall caused great chicken attrition, and the aracaunas were not exempt. One of the three disappeared and the other two decided to move their digs up to the chicken house with the rest of the girls.

They were not exactly welcomed with open wings. This is normal. Every new chicken who comes on the farm has to deal with the pecking order, and mostly the new girls learn (over and over) that they are at the bottom of it. But at least they had each other.

Then they didn't. We have to assume that yet another was a coyote breakfast, because suddenly we had only one. She is so different looking from the others that we'd check for her to make sure she was still with us. Plus we were really looking forward to those cool green eggs.

Then she disappeared. We assumed she was yet another tasty treat for the resident wildlife.

One day, Stephen and Farmer Boy were cleaning out the utility trailer to load it up for a dump run. Among the items in the trailer was an old mailbox. Inside the mailbox was the Aracauna. How she got stuck in there, we will never know. She was in rough shape. Very dirty, very weak. We didn't know if she'd make it. Not only did she have some recovering to do, but as soon as you're sick, you are the very lowest of the low on the pecking order, and chickens have been known to peck a sick bird to death. Talk about survival of the fittest!

But she recovered. She got stronger, she cleaned herself up, and pretty soon it was back to normal for Miss A.

A week ago, Farmer Boy suddenly raced past me in the house saying urgently, "I need to save a chicken". He had looked out the window and seen a chicken caught in the fence. I went out to help him. The poor bird had gotten her foot stuck on some barbed wire, and was actually hanging upside down attached by her foot. Her right eye had been pecked out by her barbaric companions. And it was, you guessed it, our poor lone Aracauna.

I was tempted to kill her then and there. I just didn't know how she could survive, and I hated seeing her like this. But when I looked in her good eye, it was clear and alert. So we put her in seclusion. She kept getting out. We kept putting her back in. She got out. We gave up. She wanted to be out, and by golly she was going to be out!

The increased handling she has had due to all her traumas has really tamed her, and she lets us pet her now. Yesterday, she was settling in for the night on the front porch (she still doesn't like sleeping with those meanies in the hen house), and I walked up to give her a little love and encouragement. She looked at me with her bright healthy eye. I peeked around to see how the scab was healing on her missing eye... and she looked at me with her OTHER bright healthy eye! I couldn't believe it! Our little miracle bird.

The children have named her Oreo. Lucky girl is here to stay... only animals we aren't planning to eat get names.

1 comment:

Christian Hartsock said...

You should be ashamed by you liberal husband.

the truth hurts!