Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Meet Maggie...

Maggie is a LARGE New Hampshire breed hen. She is the classic 'Little Red Hen', except Maggie weighs in at around 6-8 pounds. Maggie was a freebie from the feed store (they know we are softies and take all their injured birds) about a year and a half ago. She has a bad left leg, which although it supports her and she runs for food just fine, thank you, has a set of curled-up toes. She can move her toes, they just don't unfurl into the classic chicken foot shape. It hasn't slowed her down or hindered her abilities in any way, and she has been a fine little (ok, HUGE) hen.

The other day I found Maggie sitting under one of the bushes at feeding time. She didn't come running for dinner like the others, so automatically I knew something was wrong, and suspected the bad leg. Bingo. She doesn't want to stand up or put weight on it. We hope it's just temporary, a slight injury that will heal in a few days. So into the house she came, placed on an old towel in the kitchen with food and water nearby.

That was 4 days ago, and she has since learned to gracefully endure N. running around, me washing dishes right next to her (she talks to me while I work) and us throwing things away in the trash can right next to her. For this she is duly rewarded with assorted treats, lots of pets and attention. She has learned all about The Big White Foodbox and that when humans open it goodies come forth, and how to whine plaintively if she somehow gets forgetten.

In return, Maggie has gifted us with 4 lovely large brown eggs, laid right there on her towel with a little clucking, muttering and talking. We do our bit and praise and pet her, properly admiring the egg before we put it in the egg basket. We've let Phoenix, the Head Rooster, in to visit with her a couple of times so that she doesn't get too lonely and the other chickens don't start crying for her. Maggie likes it when she has company and eats and drinks better when there are others in the room eating and drinking--chicken or human, doesn't make any difference to her. A flock is a flock. We were hoping that it was an egg pressing on a nerve that was causing the leg problem, as happens sometimes, but after the fourth egg was laid we figured it must be an injury after all. Now Maggie is standing sometimes and shakily putting weight on the leg, while staring at it in irritation, so she's making progress. Meanwhile she's been a better houseguest than most humans, and is playing the 'dignified old dame' part well.

Time will tell!

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