October 12, 2015

Most of Which Never Happened

David lowered his window a little further. It was a hot day, and without the air conditioner working the van felt like an oven. The chicken on his lap protested by smacking him in the face with her wing. David raised the window again, reducing the air blowing in Penny's face. He looked at me, exasperated, a trickle of sweat running down the side of his cheek. Dumb bird.

The trouble began when I found Penny near the raspberry bushes. She was holding her wings up slightly, away from her body. Her mouth was open and she appeared to be gasping. Isn't this what heat stress looks like in birds?


All my children are good with our animals, but one of my 14-year-old sons has special skill with our chickens. His siblings teasingly call him "The Chicken Whisperer." David can quickly catch an escapee who has flown the coop. He notices discord among the hens before anyone else and heads off trouble by bringing a treat to distract the girls. Even a broody hen fusses less if  Dave is the one disturbing her nest. His help was just what I needed now.

Penny and David having a conversation.
I set up a small cage for Penny in a shady spot while David got a water dish and a bowl of ice to set beside her. Her breathing was labored and her feet were almost too hot to touch. Not good signs. She drank a little water and settled down near the ice. Hopefully she would cool down fast. Dave promised to keep an eye on her so I could get back to lessons with Mary.

A short time later Penny had indeed cooled and seemed more alert, but something still wasn't right.  Her beak was still open and her breathing sounded hoarse and wheezing. Do chickens get asthma? Great. Just one more reason our family was "special."

"Have you met that family? You know, the one with the pet asthmatic chicken?"

Those of you that know me, know I'm a worrier. I try not to be. I really do, but...
  • How do I know that headache isn't really a brain tumor?
  • The car makes a little noise? It's going to break down and we'll be stranded in the middle of nowhere!
  • The weather looks a little stormy? What if the weatherman lied and that little rain shower suddenly turns into an EF5 Tornado?
  •  I haven't seen one of my children for a few moments (at home, no less) and they've run away with gypsies straight out of an old movie, will be trained to play an organ grinder for a little hat-wearing monkey on a leash, earning change on street corners, wishing I had been a better mother to them and warned them that this was no way to make a living. 

Yeah. It's fun living in my head.

So there I am, driving to the vet's office with David in the seat beside me, holding a chicken on his lap. I'm sure I told Dave Penny would be fine, all the while thinking,

"What if it's not asthma? What if Penny has bird flu and it spreads to the whole flock - chickens and ducks alike? What if we have to put down all of our birds, and we get sick, too, and our tiny farm is quarantined, but it's too late, and it spreads to other farms, and everyone will blame us and no one will like us anymore, and we'll have to move to Alaska where no one knows us? Also, how much will the vet charge us today?"

The vet was less concerned. "Penny has a mild respiratory infection," he reassured us. "Give her this antibiotic and she'll recover within a few days."

I'm so glad. Penny, smallest of our laying hens, is a favorite of the family. She was severely wounded by the other hens (Pecking order is a real thing!) and had to be separated from them permanently, removed from the coop and chicken yard, and freed to wander where she will. She likes to sit on our porch, peering into our window, waiting for someone to come out and give her attention or a treat. She actually likes to be held and petted, and comes running when she hears our voices. Now that the antibiotics have made her eggs inedible, she has truly gained pet status - strictly a companion chicken. Yes, we really are that family.

 I rarely voice my worries. choosing not to give them more power and instead entrust all to Jesus. And I do hope to one day conquer them. Until then... a sense of humor helps, gives me something to blog about and you something to read. You're welcome.

October 6, 2015

Don't Touch My Bat

This afternoon, Annie purchased a rubber Halloween bat. It wore a goofy expression on its little batty face, and sported a nifty elastic cord attached to the back of its neck for hanging.  I think she was planning to hang it from the dining room light fixture as a Halloween decoration. I hope she enjoyed the thought, because she never got the chance to hang it anywhere. In fact, the last time she even touched the bat was when she placed it onto the store counter before the clerk bagged it. 

Joey found the bat.  Annie was busy pulling other purchases from the bag and didn’t notice Joey grabbing it with a delighted grin. His big sister brings him the neatest stuff!

There’s a chance Annie noticed Joe running around the table, making the rubbery, black wings swoop up and down. She may have noticed him having a conversation with the bat. She definitely noticed he was introducing the bat to everyone. 

“This is my bat. His name is Joey.”

Annie looked at me.  “His bat? Mom? Did I just lose my bat?”

I merely raised my eyebrow at her. “Well…”

Both of us watched Joey-the-boy pretend to feed Joey-the-bat some of his apple.

“Mom! Did you know my bat is a fruit bat?” Joe smiled contentedly.

Joe continued to play with his bat all through dinner and afterward, as I was getting the coffee pot set up for the morning, I looked down to see this:

“He broke his wing and I fixed it, and he’s sleeping now. See? I covered him so he’ll stay warm.”

Well, okay then.

The family gathered on the couches to watch Mountain Men (a favorite show), and a sleepy little Joey with drooping eyelids curled up between Mary and Annie. There are few things that pull at my heart-strings like a sleepy little one. I would have scooped him up and snuggled him to sleep, but his oldest sister was closer. “Annie, look at Joe,” I whispered.

She extended a hand and stroked his forehead, smiling down at him as his eyes began to close. He was almost out. Then, eyes still closed, he extended his hand and in a quiet voice warned her,

“Don’t. Touch. My Bat.”

So, Annie, have you lost your bat? 

Yes. Yes, you have.