Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Surprising Tale of “Miz Lazarus”

a portion of the flock doing their "healthy chicken thing"...picking, scratching, eating
Yesterday, as I walked by the henhouse, I noticed an ailing hen.  Further investigation revealed that not only was she “ailin’ “, she was bleeding, lethargic…and probably dying. Chickens die fairly easily…they can get cropbound, eggbound, attacked by hawks, skunks, possums, fall prey to parasites…and sometimes just because it’s Thursday (Friday, Wednesday, the second Tuesday of the month…whatever). There was no way to tell what might have happened to her, and the chances for recovery were slim at best. While death is never a good thing, heroic measures are not taken in caring for chickens.  Chickens are even quicker to succumb than sheep.

Since the chickens are not really “my department”, I apprised the Boss of the situation and went about my other business.  He had already noticed her, knew there wasn’t anything he could do for her, and assumed that he would be called upon to dispose of the body later.

**A little aside here---the Boss is suffering from a severe case of Achilles tendonitis.  Walking is painful at best.  A visit to the doctor put him in one of those boot-things and he’s supposed to stay off his feet as much as possible.  This whole ordeal is fodder for another entry.  But, for now…I’m doing most of the farm chores. (and giving major thanks that it’s not May, June, July…)**

He managed to get out to gather the eggs at afternoon choretime.  The hen had been lying in the same spot for ages, and while she was still slightly breathing, he knew she was a “goner”.  He tossed her in his VARMINT bucket and headed back to the barn.

The VARMINT bucket is not to be confused with FEED buckets or WATER buckets.  The VARMINT bucket is used to dispose of the bodies of small creatures that have been dispatched by force from the farm.  (like groundhogs, 'possums, 'coons, large rats, etc)  When chickens die, they must also be disposed of as well.  I will spare you the details of the disposal., I will give you a piece of advice necessary for farm survival…NEVER, EVER use one of the Boss’ buckets without returning it to its proper place, in the original condition! (there WILL be repercussions, I guarantee)

Since The Boss is trying not to walk too much, I volunteered to take over the disposal detail.  However, other matters were far more pressing and I decided to wait until morning to take care of the deceased hen. It wasn’t as if she was going to go anywhere…

Morning chores were going fairly smoothly.  The bottle lambs had been fed.  The ewes no longer thought they were going to starve and the barn was relatively quiet, so I began gathering all the feed for the hens and Waylon (our ram that lives out back).  As I scooped feed into a bucket, I thought I heard a little noise.  

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed movement.

WHAT!?  OH!!  OH MY!!!

The “deceased” hen was NOT so deceased.  As a matter of fact, she was peering at me out of her one good eye over the rim of the VARMINT bucket!   Yikes!  That was slightly unsettling. It reminded me of the Biblical account of Lazarus being raised from the dead.

After a quick trip to the house to share the weird news with the Boss, I took her out of the bucket and let her have a drink of water.  The cats and dogs were not too thrilled that she was drinking out of the heated “pet” bowl. She pecked at the spilled grain scattered on the barn floor.

Now, quite honestly, I didn’t need a convalescent hen in the middle of the barn in the middle of my busy day.  But…there she was.  I found a couple old catfood cans for feed and water.  I gave her a few lettuce leaves and she PECKED me. Rude and annoying as that may seem…it is a good sign.

She hung out by the barn doors all day with cats and dogs watching over her.  For the overnight hours, I placed a crate over her and her little bowls of food and water.  She will be safe from predators that way.

While “Miz Lazarus” will indeed succumb sometime…maybe even sometime in the overnight hours…her odd resurrection story served to remind us of something…

     NEVER assume anything! 
                                  ...and ALWAYS expect a miracle!

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