Some readers who follow us regularly may remember the Great Chicken Escape a couple of weeks ago.
This is the follow-up to when we walked out to check on the chicks only to discover that Clover and three chicks of her five chicks were outside of the fenced in chicken pen. Of course as Murphy’s Law would have it, our Labrador Sassy was on her way to being walked and she rushed the chicken (a natural hunting instinct) and one three chicks flew into the woods in a panic.
Freckles, the 4 month old Phoenix rooster, basking in the sunshine.
I was able to find two of them hunkered down in the leaves and pick them up and put them back into the coop. But Freckles was missing for over an hour. We put Sassy into the truck (the safest and closest containment area in a pinch) and we searched and searched.
After more than an hour of waking through greenbrier and downed logs and calling “chick chick chick” until I was hoarse, we were at the point of nearly giving up. Then I heard a “peep” and saw a bobbing chick walking out from behind the forge overhang where Freckles had apparently hidden between some items store there. As I shoed the chick back into the pen he flew right up into the pole barn window. It was getting dark and the window was black too and I think he thought it was the dark coop opening.
It was Freckles, a rooster. While I had hoped it was just panic and shock that was causing his odd behaviors, I believe he either injured his head or his wing. He was not able to fly backup into the coop and I had to lift him. He squawks loudly and tries to get away but he allows it.
Freckles, on the right hand side of this photo, in his “before” injury days.
Even after a few recovery days he is just not the same. He can fly down and out of the coop but not back into it. He hesitates like he is afraid of crashing again. He eats but he holds back and separates himself from the rest of the brood and is the last to eat. He turns his back to the brood, stays a bit apart from the other and lags just a bit behind the others. His eyes a dull like he is not quite all there. I think we have a handicapped rooster now. Poor thing.
I’ve watched the pecking order of the brood shift too. Where once the two littlest chicks, Snowball and JoJo were the meekest and lowest in the pack, they have moved up notch. Freckles is now the low chicken on the block. He eats; he drinks and tags along to the communal bathing but does not join in.
This has definitely brought out my mothering instincts. So I am babying him just a bit. I make sure he gets his share of food and I left him in and out of the coop. I think he is physically “off” now and needs extra watching, extra care and help. I imagine in a larger brood he would not make it but in his own small family and with my help, it seems everyone can adjust just a bit.
Who know that I would have such empathy and compassion for a chicken with “special needs?”
Sometimes things just fall into your lap that we don’t plan on. Sometimes there are signs and sometimes not. Freckles cannot speak, so I have to. This is in some ways like having a son that is far from perfect but is dearly love.
We are all less than perfect. We all have issues that make us different. Some of us limp, some of us can’t speak, spell or hear or even remember things the way we use to. But it doesn’t make us less worthy of love.
Freckles is just a chicken. On some farms a non-producing animal has to go. This time it is a chicken perhaps the next time a dog. The next time a young child who is the different one.
Sometimes things just fall in your lap. We each can choose to shriek in judgment or to respond in kindness and compassion.
Small House Homesteader and Chicken Keeper, Donna