Eight baby chickens hatched last year. They were able to squeeze through the chicken wire so they could run, scratch and explore in the front garden under the watchful eye of our old poodle while their mother ran back and forth calling franticly from inside the pen.
Returning home one day we checked all the animals and found one baby was missing. I found it with a leg trapped in the wire, gasping for breath. Freeing its leg I lifted this tiny speck of life. Weighing nothing, it was a fragile two weeks old and had probably been lying in the sun all day.
Never one to admit defeat, I carried it into the house and fed it drops of water with Rescue Remedy added. I smeared the leg with Green Healer and settled it in a shoe box full of shredded paper. Every half hour I gave it more and although it was accepted it eagerly the chicken was not moving at all.
I sadly covered the box with a towel when we went to bed, knowing that small animals usually die from shock. At least it would die warm. I woke to the sound of a chicken having a nervous breakdown. On the window ledge next to the dining table stood the mother hen, screeching and scolding through the glass, demanding that her baby be returned to her. From the box came extremely loud cheeping. When I removed the towel, there was the baby, wobbling on the one good leg and telling its mother about what an adventure it had been having. They had been able to hear each other during the night and with such strong opinions about everything that I suspected the chick might be a rooster.
For the sake of the other babies who were missing their mother and the sanity of us all, I took the baby back to the pen. It was still touch and go as I had seen hens kill sickly chicks many times but it seemed she really wanted that baby back. By lunch time the injured one was hopping behind its siblings again.
We were glad to watch her grow into a healthy, if slow moving, hen and not a rooster. I always try to feed her a little extra away from the competition of the others.
One morning, there was some thing different about her. Looking closer I realised that her foot was missing! It had dropped off, leaving her with a tender stump.
Of course, she was “Stumpy” ever after. She has grown into a pretty, timid little hen who has just laid her first egg. She climbs the ladder into the pen but hasn’t managed to learn how to roost with the others.
Isn’t nature wonderful?