The Stick, the Chick, and Me…

Here’s how it turned out since my previous post:

The gardenia stick is dead as it’ll ever be.

I believe I killed it by procrastination. I would have done better to plant it in a little pot the instant I saw the roots. I kept saying, “I’ll do that tomorrow.” I am still saying that, because the stick is still in its cup beside my sink. You win some, you lose some, but at least you tried, and in every case you gain more knowledge.

I appear to have won out better with Elvira.

She can now walk well and for longer periods. She continues to often hold her right foot in an arched position. She can grip with the foot, however.

I am now the reluctant owner of a somewhat lame truly backyard chicken. Our Elvira spent much of the past three weeks in our backyard, with overnights in private accommodations in the garden room. After much picking up and carrying, much confinement so she wouldn’t overuse the leg, soaking her feet and legs in Epsom salts and coating with antibiotic cream (she had red spots of inflammation on her feet), she now follows me, comes at the sound of my voice. I’m not altogether happy about a pet chicken, but there you are. She is giving eggs again. As of yesterday, I eased her fully back in with the flock. She was as reluctant to do that as I was to have a pet chicken.

I look forward, and press on, with making this book available in the coming month.

On the Me front, I’m writing again, purposefully, enthusiastically. I have, in these weeks that I’ve been tending a chicken and silent on this blog, finished revising and expanding a novella I originally wrote and published with Silhouette Books twenty years ago. Oh, the delight the moment I realized I had finished the final edit–and that I was happy with it!

I am in the midst of learning how to e-publish. I’ll be writing more on all of this in the coming weeks.

In the words of Rainey Valentine, my heroine in Lost Highways:

I don’t know where I’m goin’, but I’ll know when I get there. ~Rainey Valentine, Lost Highways

Starting Monday Out Right with the Now Two-Legged Midget Chick and Her Big Sisters

The chicks turned seven weeks old on Thursday, and I breathed a sigh of relief. They were not only still alive, but thriving. I had read weeks ago on a forum someone's tale of their chicks up and dying at seven weeks and they did not know why. This sent me at high speed into dark imaginings. I then and there quit reading on chicken forums.

Our little Princess Puny, special needs chick. At about half the size of the rest in the flock, she nevertheless continues to grow, at her own pace and time. She uses both legs now, walks and runs around the extended area of the chicken run, although she does not perch. Managing the ramp to the hen house was a slow challenge for her. She finds it best to fly up and down. She remains smaller and, well, puny, but there has been no picking on her by the other chicks at all. For a time one of the Buff Orpingtons seems to be a companion by her side.

A better picture of Princess Puny and her Big Sister, to show their differences in size, as well as the shape of their heads. Puny's head remains a round ball.

We enjoy all the chicks, but little Princess Puny is a special delight. She reminds me of the power of just keeping on, and then laying down when you’re tired, getting up again and pressing on, doing what you can do, being a blessing as just who and what you are.

Commitment to our unique way of life, then is our task today and every day. It is not to be undertaken for our self-improvement, nor for salvation of the world or society, but simply because we can do no other if we are to be true to the individual hypothesis of our lives. ~Helen M. Luke

Starting Monday out right…
Dear God, help me to see see clearly my talents and all the magnificent possibilities extended before me. Give me the courage to use them, day by day. So it is. Amen.

Another Normal Monday, and the Chicks and I are Still Here…

Starting Monday out right…

I began the day at 5:30, when I took a bit of food out to the chicks. I gave thanks that they were still alive. That I halfway do not expect them to be goes to show my nature. No wonder I’m a writer.

Dear God, thank you for the start of another precious normal day. Let me see the treasures of normal days, really see them. Let me live in the present moment, and not keep rushing ahead to the future that always seems either more dire or more perfect. Let me enjoy this day! Amen.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The chicks, and I, have entered their fourth week.

Last week I anew learned that chicks, and humans, are always changing. I have changed in that I can no longer look after a five-year-old and focus on any sort of writing. What cannot be changed is to be accepted, and best happily so. I put my plans on hold, and went with the flow, in the process learning the surprising facts that I can still play kick-ball and actually enjoy digging in the dirt. And I can break a worm in half. Is there anything I cannot do, with that fact behind me?

“Nana do the worms like to get ate?”

What would you have said to that? I opted for the truth. “I don’t think so.”

Worm digging stopped for the day.

I learned that little boys are apt to fall into the cage head first.

I learned that we never know what is going to happen. Our little Princess Puny, who we thought would surely die, is still peeping along.

She is puny. Her feathers are not coming in as fast as the others. Below is a shot of her sister. See the difference in feathers?

But Princess Puny is still with us, and still growing at her own rate, never mind what all the others birds do, or what might be expected of her. That’s her testimony, and often mine.

My One-Legged Midget Chicken and Other Lessons in Chicken Raising

In the past two weeks my adventure in learning to rear chickens has moved back and forth on my two lists: Something I’ve Always Wanted to Do List and What Was I Thinking List.

Here is a message that I sent to friends the past Tuesday, Valentine’s Day:

Well. I read some happy Valentine’s day sharing and thought: blah! I’m in a bad mood. It is over these *$#! chicks. I had no idea of all that would be involved! I had no idea of how complicated I make everything, and how much I had to learn– and all Again! How many times have I done this in my life? I want to back up and have a do-over about these chickens. This morning I noticed a couple of runny poos. Yikes! Of course there is no telling from which one. Maybe they have the dread disease that I cannot pronounce and all because I did not use the medicated feed, that a number of people told me I did not need. People have told me all sorts of conflicting advice. And I’ve discovered that keeping the flock in a wire cat carrier similar to the ones as the feed store that looked so ideal has a large drawback. One can only get in it through a side door. Getting harder and hard to clean the dang cage with the chicks in there. They scramble around in a hazardous manner, and are very hard to catch from the side angle. They fly and flap all over, likely to get injured. One chick, who I’ve been concerned about for days as she is not growing and thriving like the others, got a hurt leg. Or had a stroke, I don’t know. All I can tell is that her right leg and foot is not working, and let me say that a chick cannot hop around on only one leg. I had to separate her out, expected her to die, but she did not. So now I have a stupid one-legged chick, still peeping, in a little box, with my desk lamp for heat, eating and drinking out of my grandmother’s cut crystal ice tea coasters.

My friends flocked, to use an apt expression, to bolster me, reminding me in so many words that I was indulging in listening to doubts, and that  there are trials in any learning experience, and laughing with me, too. One friend also pointed out: “How many people do you know who have a one-legged, midget chicken?”

Friends are invaluable. They help pick you up when you have a leg that has collapsed.

Handy husbands are equally invaluable. DH, probably in self-defense, fearing I was teetering on the edge, went to work designing and building a wonderfully larger brooder cage that is accessed through the top. And equally important, it would be placed in the garden room at the end of the garage. He even made a divider to give our little one-legged midget chick– we’ve named her Princess Puny– her own safe space.

By Wednesday morning, Puny was observed putting her foot on her crystal feed dish. Thursday, when we moved all the chicks to the new chicken condo, she was hopping around.

I just came in from the garden room, where DH was dropping dug worms to the chicks, and they were all, even Puny racing around chasing the lucky sister who caught the worm, while DH laughed with delight. Maybe the chicks were not only for me.

DH made a handy divider in order to give Princess Puny her first night by herself. Now she's back with her sisters, fighting over worms.

I’ve learned in these past two weeks that I embarked on keeping chickens with far less knowledge than I had believed and many more misconceptions. All perfectly normal, and due to the fact that experience is the surest and most truthful of teachers. No matter what the books have said, not just any old thing will do for a chick brooder; get something accessed from the top. The chicks don’t see you coming and you can grab them easily. Also, chicks, like fish and visiting relatives, stink in the house after a week.

I’ve relearned that when anything dire seems to happen, wait three days before one panics, and by then most things are resolved, one way or another.

Princess Puny is a bit smaller than the others, but that isn't stopping her from joining right in.

I’ve learned it’s awfully nice to sit in the garden room with DH, both of us on up-ended buckets, and watch the chicks just poking around. That really sounds odd, but the critters are mesmerizing, so besides the hope of eggs, they provide some relaxation away from the real world.

When I learn something new – and it happens every day – I feel a little more at home in this universe, a little more comfortable in the nest.–Bill Moyers