Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Henny Penny & Tashi

Henny Penny?  Who is Henny Penny?

If you've been reading my blog, you know who Tashi is - a mixed breed dog that definitely has some Australian Shepherd in her.  She loves to herd the cows.  Once she saw me shooing the chickens out of the garage, she made it her mission to keep them out.

She has chased chickens ever since she laid eyes on them, but she gets within ten feet of them and calls it a day.  She is quite satisfied if she can get them excited enough to fly up in a tree.

But I noticed that she has become a little more aggressive lately.  Monday evening, when Lyn stopped to get her milk, she told me she had rescued a chicken from Tashi.  I pooh-poohed it, telling her she does it all the time, and that she won't hurt them.  I went back to milking.

About a half hour later, Kathy, who was there helping me to deal with Lucy - and that story is for another day - said to me, "Susan, Tashi has a chicken."  I looked out and there was a chicken lying dead in the drive.  I was furious with the dog, and furious with myself for not listening to Lyn.

I picked up the chicken by one leg and thought, "Do I have the guts to butcher her, or shall I just throw her on the compost pile, along with the two I lost a couple of weeks ago?"  Then I noticed one foot move slightly.  She was alive.  I put her in a cage in the house and went back to the barn to finish up the chores.  When I went back inside, she was lying on her side, wet and limp.  I wrapped her in a bath towel and held her on my lap.  Pretty soon her head came up.  She was very calm.  I couldn't tell if a wing or leg was broken.  But she wasn't moving, not at all.  I felt under the towel and it was very wet, so I got a second bath towel and traded it for the wet one.  We remained on the sofa.  Tashi and Bear ignored me, but Ayn Chee jumped up on the sofa, a bundle of curiosity.  She didn't make any move for the chicken, so I let her be.  Finally, I got a third towel and wrapped her in that for another ten minutes or so.  Then I felt under the towel and she seemed pretty dry and warm.

I put a fresh towel in the cage while I held her under my arm.  The fact that she was so calm made me worry.  Not like a chicken, at least not like a Campine, to remain so calm while being held.  Once the cage was ready, I put her in with a bowl of water and covered the cage with blankets.  I went upstairs and figured I would have a dead hen in the morning.  Before I went to bed, I just had to check on her one more time, and she had obviously moved a few inches.  That was good news, and I went to bed feeling a little more hopeful.

Tuesday morning she had moved all the way to the back of the cage.  I began calling her Henny Penny.  Hey You just didn't seem appropriate for such a little fighter!  I went outside to get Henny Penny some feed.  Then the "bedding" had to be replaced with another old bath towel.  In the midst of all this, she stood up!

When I got home from market, I rushed downstairs to see how she was doing.  She clucked at me when I stuck my head in the cage.  She was still very docile, not really a good sign, but she had scratched around in her food, and her water dish was empty.  A friend told me to give her electrolytes, and another friend said cider vinegar would do.  So I had a dish with plain water, another with a few drops of vinegar in it, and she had finished the vinegar water.  I guess they know what they need.

Again, I ran downstairs before bedtime just to check on her.  By now I was very hopeful that she was going to make it.  When I bent down to cover the cage, she was standing by the door talking to me, and I am pretty sure she was saying, "Get me out of here!"

This morning while it was still dark, I took Henny Penny to the Moop, opened the door and put her on the top perch with the rest of the chickens.  I had a couple of concerns - first, that the others would attack her because she had been AWOL for two days, and second that it would be too cold for her after living in a cage just a few feet from the wood stove.  I closed the door and went back inside to wait for daylight.

At 8:00 I was back out at the Moop with fresh water.  I opened the door and all was well.  I went out twice today to count, and all 12 were there - Buster and the 11 hens.

There was one hen hanging around my garage door off and on today.  She was waiting by the door every time I went outside.  She hasn't yet knocked on the door and asked to come in, but I'm thinking that it is Henny Penny, and she wouldn't mind another vacation in that warm hotel!

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