Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written with an update, so thought since I have PLENTY of time on my hands this week that it would be a good chance to do just that. Where to begin?
CHICKENS – specifically Lord Harold
Chickens seem to be the most dynamic thing going on on the farm. We started out with a few chickens from last year. Everything is going well. Well, now it’s going well. You know our first chicken, Lord Harold-Prince of Fancy was our absolute super star. He was our first bird and the most handsome rooster a rooster can be. Talk about colors… strong, large and in charge. He kept our other rooster, Colonel Woodford in line.
One night, we came home and my “chicken senses” told me to check on everybody. It was pouring rain and had been for quite a while. I walked over to the chicken coop and the Colonel was sitting on the outside railing in the rain absolutely covered in blood. This waddles were torn to shreds. Blood all down his front, down his back… I mean he got his ass handed to him. So I’m thinking, “If he looks this bad, what does Harold look like?”. I take the Colonel inside and put him on his usual perch then I turn around to check out Harold – who was not in his usual spot.
Harold was not on his usual perch… OH NOOOO… I scream for Eric to come and bring every light we had. It didn’t take long. We found laying in about a 4″ deep depression full of water, on his back, gasping for air. Lord knows how long he had been there, but since chickens pretty much go to bed at sundown (about 7:30 at the time) he had been there at least 4 hours.
We picked him up to stand him up and he would fall over. This happened several times. We picked him, put him in a towel and got a good look at him. He was wet to the bone, bleeding everywhere – comb and waddle almost unrecognizable, both eyes swollen shut, the top of his bill broken off, blood everywhere and likely had a concussion. My first reaction was to put him down and put him out of his misery. Eric said it looked like two heavy weight fighters went at it and Harold lost. He said if he made it the night and when morning came we’d evaluate him then.
We put him in our chicken ICU and hardly slept a wink. Morning came and miraculously he was still alive. Barely. He was still wet, shivering, eyes swollen shut, still bleeding from some of the major cut and just an all around mess. We thought if he made it through the night, he still had a little fight left in him.
Since he so covered in mud we decided a bubble bath was in order. He was so out of it he didn’t put up a fight even when we used a hair dryer to blow him dry and warm him up. We have a big tub in our bathroom so we decided it triage him there. We wedged him between 2 towels, gave him food and water but he wouldn’t eat or drink. We put antibiotic ointment on his wounds. Tried to pry his eyes open after a few days – not knowing if he even had eyes left.
Every day we tried to get him to have a tiny bit of water. This went on for weeks. We were wondering if we had made the right decision keeping him alive this long. His wounds slowly healed, then to our complete amazement he began to stand. Not a lot, just testing the old legs. He continued to slowly improve. Eventually he took baby steps. He couldn’t walk very well, lost his balance every step and would flop over. But every day or two we could see a little improvement.
It took a while until one morning, about 3 months into rehab, we heard an amazing sound. For the first time in months he crowed! That’s how we knew he was on the mend. Time went on, he got better and we got tired of a rooster crowing at 6:00am every morning. We moved him outside for a month of ‘rehab’ and eventually decided an reintroduction to the flock was in order. Harold was as top notch as he was going to be. We walked him outside, set him down and within 15 seconds, the boys were at it again. That’s we realized one had to go. And it broke our heart, but it had to Harold.
I put an ad on a pasture poultry listserve and within a day or two I got a response. A couple wanted to get into chickens and being that the fellow had gone to University of South Carolina (home to the fighting Gamecocks) he got to thinking what better way to start. The couple was FABULOUS! We hit it off from the start!
They loved him, battle scars and all and got busy on a chicken house. We went out to check the building progression and this thing was nicer than my house! We decided that we would throw in a Rhode Island Red and a Barred Rock hen so Harold wouldn’t get lonely and they could get a few eggs a day.
We went out to visit and their new life is amazing! Their new house. The new birds get to come out and run for a few hours each evening and are happy as could be! To be honest, I got all choked up and teary eyed. They had such a beautiful life with two of the best people you could imagine. We’ve become great friends and get to visit whenever we want. It is truly a fairy ‘tail’ ending.