Remember this inevitable part?
|In the middle of the night|
Miss Clavel turned on her light
and said, "Something is not right!"
That happened in the Clark household the other night.
Trade the old house in Paris (covered with vines) for our old house in Austin (covered in...old siding).
Trade the 12 little girls in 2 straight lines for 6 chickens in a couple of plastic tubs.
And obviously I am not a nun. Miss Clavel = Ms. Clark.
Last night I was just drifting off when I heard the chicken distress chirp. I sat straight up in bed, a la Miss Clavel. How had I learned it? How did I know that this particular chirp, high pitched and urgent, was the chickie equivalent of putting up the Bat Signal in Gotham?
I don't know, but somehow in 3 weeks of intense chicken care, I knew instantly that this sound meant HELP.
I darted down the hall and threw off the towel of the tub emanating the chickie-in-distress call. There was Glendora, sprawled forward with her legs sticking out. Just like the splayed legs had rendered Lemon* a week before.
"Oh nooo," I groaned. What was wrong? Glendora was the fighter, the tough one! I poked her, she chirped back. The other 2 cowered in the corner as they usually do when my intruding hand entered their house. I picked her up, only to have her instantly flop back down. She was stiff; her legs weren't like the limp noodles the splayed-leggers had experienced. What was wrong?
Distraught, I tried to stand her up a couple more times, then just watched as she flopped and cried.
And then I saw something cooler than anything I've ever seen on the Discovery Channel, even during Shark Week. Cooler because it was real and happening right before my eyes.
The other 2 chickies walked over to Glendora and together shoved her over into the corner on the opposite side of the bin. Hockey-style, they checked her up against the wall. One pushed under her tail, the other under her neck, and then they both stood up...lifting her up to her feet.
The 3 of them stood there for awhile, propping Glendora up and all chirping as if to say that they were going to make it through this very difficult time. Then the two supporting Glendora eventually wiggled free.
Glendora began to walk shakily.
(I know, it would have been AWESOME if I had gotten this on video. Heck, even a little photo could have been good. But frankly, every time something with the chickens appears to be going horribly wrong, I am very opposed to the thought of documenting it. I'll try to get out of that negative habit as things keep on seeming to turn out...well...okay.)
|Official Rescue Chicken|
Snapping out of my dumbfounded awe, it occurred to me that perhaps Glendora had just gotten too cold. It was the second night I had not moved their bin away from the window and surrounded it with towels to keep it warmer after sundown (these 3 girls had gotten so big and active that I thought it was becoming unnecessary). Perhaps I had stopped doing this too soon.
As I followed my old incubating routine, the 3 chickies kept chirping at each other, Glendora occasionally sounding a quieter, shorter version of the distressed chirp, but otherwise now walking around. The other 2 pecked at her a bit and kept moving.
Eventually I left them alone to warm up and go to sleep. I could hear them chirping for another 30 minutes, and eventually everyone was silent.
And in the morning, everyone was alive and looking good. Glendora was pecking at the other 2 chicks like she usually does and like they hadn't somehow saved her the night before.
The 3 littler chicks, formerly of the infirmary, were also doing well. In fact, Ruby and Lemon both ate out of my hand! My heart melted a little.
So there it is, the latest amazing animal feat. They peck and shove each other, but I think they also protect each other. My 6 little girls in 2 straight bins may not be the subject of a famous children's book, but I swear they're just as entertaining and endearing.
*Yes, I've named them all now: Glendora, Peepsie, Lemon, Floss, Ruby, and Gertrude.
Glendora and Ruby are very dear family names. Floss was apparently a very funky great aunt of my mom's. Peepsie is one of a million silly names I call Brendon. Gertie was my sister's suggestion (I wanted a really good old lady name).
Lemon got her name even before I thought she was going to turn out to be a lemon. I don't know why I wanted this silly citrus name for one of the chicks already, but when Lemon first went down into her pathetic splits last week and seemed to be on the road to certain death, I started calling her Lemon in my head. And even though she (so far) didn't really turn out to be a lemon, I kind of like the name for her.