Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Sweet Caroline

A couple of weeks ago I introduced Terry to the greatness that is Survivor. He is a little binge watcher after my own heart and we flew through the season. He loved it. I knew he would love the challenges, but I wasn't sure how much he would understand the strategy. I think that's his favorite part. One thing you pick up on pretty quickly on Survivor is that as soon as someone starts to feel comfortable, that's when they should be worried they're next. I made that mistake recently. I opened my big mouth about how good things were and, well....

Today, I thought maybe I would tell about Caroline, one of our chickens, because that feels lighter than life lately and easier to manage. If you follow along on instagram (instastories) you know that Frank tried to eat Caroline last week. I really do think it was an accident. He likes the chickens; we have 7 and a rooster and I think he considers himself their manager somehow. Just, you know, keeping them in line. Their coop is a little house with a full size door and little "doggie" door (ironic) for them to go in and out into a little screened in yard with another full size door. Wednesday morning I went to feed them, as usual, and Frank, who usually takes his place along the side to watch, barged right though the door and straight through the doggie door into the coop! Chaos ensued. The girls all went nutty; flying, yelling, feathers everywhere and I think Frank just couldn't help himself. He grabbed Caroline. I was screaming, trying to get Frank to stop and to keep Prince and Wizzy (our big dogs) out, and all the while Frank just gnawed. And Caroline just laid there.

By the time I was able to get Frank out, I thought she was dead. I wrangled all the dogs to the front yard, but when I came back she was gone. At this point, I was too scared to go into the coop. I had just started getting used to the chickens, working up my courage to like them and touch them. And it was the same for them. This little incident may have put us all over the edge. I called for Angel to come and help me and go in to find Caroline. When she pulled her out, she looked fine but shocked. When we laid her down, her left leg just hung, paralyzed, and as we looked her over we found four puncture wounds, two near that leg and two on her back.

Xavera is our manager at No.41 and often times ends up being like a mother to me here. She is who I go to for local cooking tips, advice on parenting, where to find this or that.... Chicken medical care, apparently. I ran up to the 41shops, fully knowing she was going to think I was crazy and she would want to kill and eat Caroline. On a serious note, I try to be sensitive about my thoughts on animals, in general. I care very much, but it also has to be balanced against the fact that people are poor and many times hungry and don't consider chickens and goats to be pets, but food. And they don't think dogs in tshirts, eating cupcakes are cute. You don't name animals, they are an "it" and that's it. You know? It's not uncommon for children, babies, to sleep on the ground and Frank sleeps in my bed. Prince and Wizzy sleep outside, but even they have beds. They all eat they same breakfast, lunch, and dinner that we do, which is more than many of our human neighbors. For the record, our dogs don't wear clothes or eat cupcakes, but they are spoiled and, what I'm trying to say is, I try to keep that to ourselves for the most part.

So, back to Xavera. I told her I wasn't going to kill the chicken, but I just wanted her advice on how to treat the wounds and what about her leg. She said there is no medicine for chickens, they are only for two things: eggs and meat. "Your chicken will be dead by Friday. If not, it's the miracle." She laughed and left. "Ok," I told Angel, "she's going to see a miracle."

For the first time ever I picked up a live chicken. I brought Caroline inside and started googling how to help her. I flushed her wounds with warm salt water, and treated them with lavender and tea tree oil and a layer of coconut oil. I wrapped her in a towel and carried her everywhere for the next two days. I made her a little bed out of an apple crate and she sleeps on top of the dresser in my room. 

We made it past Friday with ease and these days Miss Caroline does have a bit more pep in her step, but she still isn't walking. We sit in the sunshine and try to keep her socialized with her friends so they don't hate her when she comes back. Sometimes she tries to stand, which requires a lot of wing flappage that I'm getting less afraid of. In case you were wondering, there are threads online about potty training your chicken... Don't worry, I haven't taken things that far, and don't intend to, but that means the poor Mama Kevine (our housekeeper) has been keeping a rotation of her towels clean and I've been keeping her feathers clean, which means regular baths and....blowdrys. There are a lot of things I have done in Rwanda that I never thought I would do. I think maybe blowdrying a chicken tops the list. (Also, she loves it!) 

The boys mostly ignored us, at first. They are very used to me and my crazy ways. But now that Caroline is still here and they can see progress and her personality, they've started to like her. Occasionally, I'll see them wander off into my room and hear them talking to her. Mo calls her Line-y. Yesterday when Chazzo came home, he stopped in to chat with me and was sweetly petting her while we talked. Last night, as he was petting her Terry said, "I want Caroline to be mine." I laughed and said, "What do you mean?" He said, "You can have Elena. I want Caroline." It's my favorite thing to watch them learn to love. Anything.

We each have our 'own' chicken, which really means nothing, because Mo and I are the only ones who care for them. Terry, Angel and I all have girls named after characters on Vampire Diaries; Elena, Bonnie, and Caroline. Inn's favorite English phrase, as in he just thinks it's funny to say all the time, is 'chicken noodle' so, naturally, his chicken is named Noodle. I named Mo's chicken Betty White, but he never could remember it, so I would say, "Mo, what color is she?" Now he calls her White Betty. And I think that's funnier. Chazzo and Richard's chickens are named Ruby and Pearl (which they may or may not even know). And the rooster is named Rob, after our friend who funded this whole she-bang.

So I think that's all there is to say about that. Tomorrow will be one week for our little warrior chicken princess. Hopefully, in another week she'll be walking and back with her crew. If you have any chicken tips or success stories, I'd be happy to hear them. And if you have some extra prayers you'd like to offer up for our little family, we'd take them. xo

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