"Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!" If you live with
poultry long enough you become fluent in chicken-speak. I'm fluent and that's what Grace was screaming. Now just how a hen
breaks her leg in the first place is a mystery. Osteoporosis maybe? But, she's so young.... Had she gorged on fermented fallen
pears, gotten drunk and tumbled off the patio bench? That possibility was as likely as any other I could come up with.
However it happened, the sad fact was that my favorite hen was hopping on one leg as the other dragged uselessly
behind. It didn't take an orthopedic surgeon to determine the leg was indeed broken and would require immediate attention.
Here's a tip; setting and splinting a chicken leg is not a do it yourself operation. I tried, but it takes more than just
two hands, so I called my friend Fran who agreed to "...take a look at it."
Grace seemed to enjoy the truck ride up to Fran's. After all, she is no ordinary bird. As
tongue depressors were cut to size, gauze padding put in place and the entire leg encased in vet wrap, Grace proved herself
to be the perfect patient.
"I don't feel
good about this," said Fran with a furrowed brow, but we'd done our best and would just have to wait and see. Back home,
Grace was placed in a corner of the coop, ensconced on a thick bed of straw and should she feel peckish, food and water were
just inches away. A week passed and despite
her injury, Grace (resilient girl that she is) had been managing quite well although the leg served more as a crutch than
a functioning limb. Even so, she was keeping up with her gal pals and even fluttering to her favorite uppermost perch at days
I myself am an early bird, so as I returned from
the barn today after morning chores just as dawn was breaking I heard frantic clucking and turned to see the bad asses harassing
the cripple who had been making her way toward to the house. The full moon-crazed boys were chasing and kicking out at Grace
who huddled against the fence in an effort to avoid the assault. Reversing my direction I flew (so to speak...) back
into the barnyard to rescue the trembling hen, but approaching the house the reflection in the glass door took my breath away;
a woman wearing blue crocs, striped jim-jams beneath a red bathrobe, topped with a big red parka carrying a hen with a cast
on her leg. It was not a pretty sight and I was ever so thankful there was no one around to witness this scary apparition.
There's a reason I live alone on this old farm.