Thursday, September 13, 2007


Sometimes I feel like puking. Like, no, please, this is not something I can handle at the moment. Then, of course, you handle it because that’s what life is.

I was at the computer when daughter came in holding a chicken, one of the young layers who are not quite yet laying but soon should be. One of her legs swung at an unnatural angle and I felt like puking. I could tell that this was not good. This was not a break on the shank, simple to splint. This was at the hock or above. I hoped for a dislocation and sent her to her dad. He came back in with the chick and said her thigh bones were shattered. He fixed one splint and I taped it. It has to be loose for swelling. It has to be tight enough. I prefer to use popsicle sticks and masking tape if you must know, for chickens anyway.

We got that splint on and there was still a sickening rotation. We have to splint the hock I said. We did that. He pronounced that the bones were close which is as much as you hope for really. We put her in a dog crate that we just got another chicken out of (if you have a sick chicken, the first best treatment is just to take them out of the pecking order, let them be by themselves, with free choice food and water and if they can get better, they usually will). She ate. A lot. She is able to take natural chicken positions. We’ll see.

There is one goat we can’t find. One of the “babies”, no longer much baby really, but one of this year’s girls. She is not very herdy and she did this before, we couldn’t find her for a day or two and then there she was, but we’ve all looked now, and we’ve seen every other goat and not her.

The donkey is being ridden. I’m not sure how long the daughters had been doing it on their own, but now we’re doing it formally which means I’m supervising. I need to get a bridle but in the meantime I just knot a rope in a sort of bridle for him. He is funny because you can see him deciding whether to cooperate or not. He loves the girls but he learns from me. He cooperates for them, but he gets the expectations from me. Which makes me about a thousand fold more effective than I would be without them, and lets them learn how to communicate expectations across species. He was getting a little attitude riding today, a feeling of, hey, are you sure this is a good idea? so I just led him around after that and he led perfectly and he usually has a thing against doing anything at all perfectly.

Tonight supper being ready and milking time ran together, what with chicken splinting and goat searching and donkey riding and all going on today. So we ate first and I milked in the dark. The flashlight is a small thing with one LED in it, weak. And the cow was not there. She is usually waiting in the shed. I noticed there were no lightning bugs. I wonder how long they’ve been gone. The sky is overcast and the wind is blowing and has water in it but it doesn’t say clearly if it is going to rain or not and I silently cheer Humberto on. I sook for the cow. Sooookcow, soooksoooksooookcowwwwww, soooooooookcoooooowwwww. I cannot hear her bell in the wind. The flashlight is no help seeing anything and there is no moon, no stars. Soooookcowwww. I stand my ground because I don’t want to move with no light -- we’d more likely walk past each other than find each other. I hope she can hear me over the wind. Sooookcowwwww. And I think I hear a bell. Soooook. One dark shape seems to move a little bit against all the other dark shapes and I move back up and into the shed. She stops outside and shakes her head at me. She thinks I’m late and bumps me with her shoulder as she passes me. She is not unlike that donkey in that she is in charge and she cooperates with you on her terms, not yours.

Count yourself lucky if they like you.


Alecto said...

I think the stars are aligned and we're having the same week maybe (alternate universes). How on earth does a chicken get so pulverized? How perfectly horrible and I'm stunned you got her up and going at her food again. I had a cat once who was 'bowled' across the floor (as a 4 month old kitten) (...and said bowler has been eviscerated) shattering the ball joint in her pelvis. The eviscerated bowler felt so guilty he paid the $700 (my mind still reels) for reconstructive surgery (I was going to put her down) and strangely enough that cat was good as new! Neurotic, but good as new.

OK - you ride the donkey? I had no idea you could ride the donkey. That's awesome. Momma did the fine tuning...

clairesgarden said...

I am always in awe at the way horses, donkeys, cows, dogs ets want to coperate with humans. good hearted creatures.

CG said...

Well, most of the chickens who end up with broken legs (only two) get stepped on while they are picking manure, stepped on by the cow or other large animal. This one, however . . . well, youngest child was dancing/jumping and the one who looks like me threw corn under his feet and he came down on her! So it was not a natural accident!

And yeah, it is amazing how they cooperate, although a large part of it is speaking their language which is why a lot of people think they are donkeys or goats or cows from h*ll -- they are (stupidly) expecting human sorts of interactions says I. The Bambi syndrome. I dislike anthropomorphism.

Anonymous said...

We lost two roosters (well, "lost" one and ate the other), and I milked a cow for the first time ever yesterday. I also led a horse (a very young one) for the first time. He stepped on my foot. It hurt. The internship continues, eh?

Stay tuned you-know-where...

Loved this post.