by Laurence Gray and Gwynne Zambonini
(South Wales, UK)
One day, my son, who lives on a farm, said, "Dad- Can you hatch a few eggs for me?" "Of course," said Muggins, knowing absolutely nothing about it.
To cut the detail, 6 hybrid chicks appeared, and I rapidly made them a growing-up home of cardboard boxes, of course called Cluckingham Palace.
When they were three weeks old, one evening 6 little chicks went to bed, but in the morning, only 5 came out. The sixth had somehow been trampled or injured by her siblings. When I picked her up, her legs hung limp like bits of string, and her tail was bent to one side.
I separated her from the others, and lifted her several times a day to food and water. She ate and drank well, and when I picked her up, she shrieked at me - not with fear, but annoyance at the indignity...
The vet's advice was to have her put down - but I couldn't. Her brothers and sisters departed for the farm. She wasn't growing. And then, after a further three weeks, there was a moment of pure magic.
I picked her up and her legs twitched slightly. Three days later she was able to sit without falling over. Then she taught herself to walk, slowly and with many falls, and started growing again.
I'm disabled, and when I fall over, which is very frequent, I usually get up swearing horribly. Not Chicky-Chick. She just raised her head, got up, and tried again. And again... I learned a lot from her.
Then she started to walk. Not the graceful chicken walk, but John Cleese with knobs on. This modified to the Goose Step, and slowly to something resembling a chicken walk, but never graceful.
Her brothers and sisters had long since gone to my son's farm, and I'd bought her a companion, a Light Sussex called Shelley. They got on really well. They both loved life, and eating, and digging. They had a lovely big covered run, and an outside run as well. Enough room for about ten chickens.
They loved their treats - usually cooked sweetcorn, or cooked wholewheat spaghetti, or the favourite, cooked brown rice. Each day I hung a lettuce on a string, and they played "Kill the Lettuce". They were two very spoiled, very happy chickens.
Yesterday they'd had their supper, jumped all over me and gone for a siesta, side by side, on the stone slab under the coop. An hour and a half later, my partner went out with a few treats before bedtime.
Shelley came out, but Chicky-Chick didn't. She was lying comfortably on the slab, upright, wings folded, eyes shut. She'd died in her sleep. She was two years three months old.
We tried to console ourselves with the fact that she'd had over two years of very happy life, but you know what it's like.
We'll get over it, but will never forget her love of life, and her courage.
Shelley is very disturbed. I don't think she quite knows what has happened. I think a couple of rescue chickens may very soon appear.
But I'll always miss Chicky-Chick.
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