Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Chickens are Restless

I got up at 3:30 this morning in order to get some words in the bank before the events of the day slowly and inevitably gobble up my writing time. I'm doing the single mom thing for a week while my husband is out of town for work, and the start of school has introduced all sorts of unexpected trips to the the dreaded commercial area near my (very) rural home.

I am also nursing a post-surgical Labrador Retriever, which has turned out to be a much bigger job than anticipated. She needed an ACL repair (start saving your pennies now, dog owners) and to have a "foreign body removal." Said foreign body was a horrifyingly large section of a stick that got jammed up into her leg via the space between her toes one day last January. We were out skate skiing (well, she was running; she can't seem to work the skis and poles) and she suddenly started limping. I could not find anything in her paw, so I figured she'd poked herself or pulled a muscle. We headed home, but when infection set in, she had two surgeries to remove a 1" piece of the stick. Our vet could not find any more, and nothing showed up on x-ray. Turns out, it jammed (sorry in advance, folks) so far up her leg - all the way up her hock - that neither the vet nor I thought to look there. The infection raged on, and she became weaker and weaker in her hind end, to the point that she needed to be carried up the stairs. I was referred to the amazing and affable Kurt Schulz of Peak Veterinary Referral Center in Williston, VT, who diagnosed bilateral ACL tears (ouch) and agreed to go looking for the foreign body while he was in there fixing her knees. He gave me a high-five when I returned to pick Abby up, and explained that it was hiding, nestled in her tendons and ligaments, and even gave me the stick as a souvenir. But not the quarter. He took all of my money and then some.

As I fine-tune Abby's pain meds, she oscilates between groggy and anxious, sometimes needing a sling for her undercarriage in order to go out to pee, other times needing a bit more sedation in order to protect her incision. The cat finds her relative stillness intriguing, and has taken this as an opportunity to fully investigate her smells and attack her listlessly wagging tail. She is not entertained, even if we find it endlessly amusing.

I awoke at 3 AM to a strange noise at the bottom of our stairs, and when I went down to investigate, found that it was the sound of Abby's elizabethan collar repeatedly smacking into the door and doorjam as Abby repeatedly attempted to cram her gigantic satellite-radio shaped head through the too-small opening.

Again, she was not amused, while I found it hilarious.

I let her out to pee (no sling this time, the pain meds had kicked in), and went to get a blanket so I could sleep next to her. She hates the elizabethan cone of shame and figured she'd sleep better without it, but that means I have to be nearby to stop her if she tries to lick her incisions.

Just as I was falling back asleep, an idea for my book hit, and I decided to get up and write rather than suffer an hour of deliberating whether or not to get up and write while trying to go back to sleep.

A couple of paragraphs in, the chickens started screeching and squacking. This is the sound I dread, the sound that wakes me from my dreams and makes me spring out of bed, race downstairs, and charge out into the backyard in bare feet and underwear. I will note that this is particularly unpleasant during a New Hampshire winter.

I just missed seeing the whateveritwas - I think a raccoon - run off with one of my favorite hens, a lovely golden-laced partridge. The rest of the biddies were scattered around the yard, running in all directions and clucking in terror as I tried to get a head count. Again, not entertaining for them, but objectively pretty funny when I'm not standing out in the back yard in my underwear and pissed off at whatever just snatched one of my hens for an early morning snack. Tim probably would have surreptitiously taken a video of it if he'd been in town.

The varmit had unraveled the chicken wire, made a 5" hole, reached in (I think), and pulled a hen out the hole. Feathers were stuck in the wire, and while I was still pissed off, I had to admire the varmit's perseverance. I've had chickens long enough to become philosophical about these things.

I chased down the chickens and got the remaining seven back into their coop, then hunted around for a spare piece of chicken wire so I could patch the coop until tomorrow, when I will have to spend an hour doing the permanent repairs. While I am at it, I should fix the rotten wood that's preventing the staples from holding the chicken wire securely, replace the perch that broke last week, and reinforce the wire that's disintegrated under the front end of the chicken run. If I budget my time tomorrow, I can get that done before taking Finn to a birthday party, shuttling Ben and some of his friends to a back-to-school party and soccer game, and attending a get-together I agreed to go to months ago. Hopefully, if I take a nap today (as is my habit on the weekends), I can get some writing time in tonight. Until then, here's the score:

Words written: 53
Chickens murdered: 1
Varmits vanquished: 0


  1. I say the murder of a chicken, the babysitting of invalid dog, the lack of sleep, the projected back to school schedule, an absent husband = at least 1000 words. IMHO

  2. Ugh. You were lucky to accomplish what you did. You're a fabulous dog mom. And a brave woman for dealing with chicken raiders. Carry on!