True stories of a small flock of remarkable individuals -- and other critters.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lucy Limps --part two

My whole family was worried about Lucy, but I hesitated to take her to a vet because I thought it was pretty silly to get all worked up over a $4 chicken, for cryin' out loud.  
But the day that Lucy couldn't even sit up without propping herself on her wings, I couldn't bear it any more.

A friend told me about a vet -- a farm animal vet - who happened to live just up the road.  So my daughter Sarah found a cardboard box, we tucked Lucy inside, and we drove Lucy on over.

The vet, Rosario, met us out in her driveway.  After giving Lucy a little exam on the lawn, Rosario explained that Lucy had a neurological problem, probably Marek's Disease. Marek's is a virus that affects chickens and other barnyard fowl and is usually fatal. 
Rosario fed Lucy a syringe of garlic to boost her immune system, but she told us that all we could really do was wait and watch.

Back at home, since it was way past dinner time, I automatically switched out of farmer-mode and into mother-mode.  The box o'chicken was brought into the house and stuffed into the corner behind the kitchen table, and I set to work making dinner for my family.

As we cleared the table after dinner, Sarah and I heard a soft voice.

We'd totally forgotten about Lucy.

I lifted our sick chicken out of her box while Sarah spread a red dishtowel on the floor.  We placed Lucy on the dishtowel and she Bupped again.
Sarah and I Bupped too.   
Oooh, said Lucy.

That night we gave Lucy some raisins and tucked her back into her box in the corner.   

The next morning we peeked inside the box with hesitation, and were relieved to find Lucy alive.   She still looked pretty wretched; her face was grey and her comb was beginning to curl over....but she wasn't quite dead.


I went and found the tiny training-roost that I'd made for the girls when they were chicks.  Lucy seemed more comfortable when she had something to wrap her toes around.  She couldn't stand up, but she could balance on the roost, and since it was only a few inches off the ground, she wouldn't hurt herself if she tipped over.
This would keep her from sitting in her poo, too.  With a little paper towel on the floor under the perch, we had a pretty tidy setup.

Days passed, Lucy lived.

She spent a lot of time  sleeping.
When she was awake, she kept me company in the kitchen, having little conversations with me, and watching everything I did with sincere interest.

Lucy did make lovely company.

She also looked quite stunning on the white futon.


More days passed, and Lucy didn't get a whole lot worse.
But she didn't get any better, either.

I found myself sketching little tiny wheelchairs. 
Was I destined to care for a paralyzed chicken indefinitely?


  1. Poor Lucy

    I hope she gets better soon.

  2. Safely tucked into a box in a corner sleeping the way to recovery. Propped on a roost in the kitchen enjoying your company... when awake. Staring out the window to the back yard from the white futon...

    Sounds eerily like when I was there recovering! Amazing how you seem to know what to do.

  3. I have just come upon your blog and this post cracks me up! I know how it feels to have a sick chicken. We had one get attacked by a fox and I bathed her wounds in hydrogen peroxide each day until she healed. It is amazing how patient hens will be, as if they seem to know you are helping. I love your drawings. Gonna continue to read more.

  4. OMGsh! I can picture the wheelchair now. Pulled by Marky, the hawk-dog. I love how our girls talk to us... Barred Rocks seem to be especially sweet.

  5. Despite the best guess-timate of the driveway Vet, if she could curl her toes around a stick, it wasn't Mareks. She could have nerve damage which may or may not get better with time, but thankfully, it isn't that. Mareks permanently paralyzes the bird with one leg stretched all the way out in front, the other all the way out behind, with no ability to hang on to anything. Eventually, paralysis spreads to the upper body, and affects the neck, and the bird is unable to swallow and dies.

  6. luv the wheel chairs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)