Saturday, June 27, 2009

Another Episode of Veterinarian's Hospital

I swear there is more drama around here than on a daytime soap opera. The plan for this beautiful day was to head towards the farmer's market to pick up some apricots and blueberries for preserving, bake some bread, and make some yogurt and sauerkraut. I was going to give you all recipes, but that brilliant plan was thwarted by an emergency trip to the All Animal Hospital. It was my fault. I was a careless, reckless oaf. Watashi manuko. That's the only thing I know how to say in Japanese. It means, according to Father Guido Sarducci in the movie Spirit of 76, "I am an asshole."

So I was getting the big chickens some fresh water while the peeps were pecking around their little lot outside. I went to close the door while 2 of the chicks were on the threshold. I figured they would just hop off, but Sweet Pea, kind of being slow and all, didn't get all the way off and her toe got squished in the door. Well more like torn off to the point that the bone was exposed. She made a squawk and hurried for shelter inside the cinder block that was laying in the pen. As an after thought, I decided I should check her to make sure she was okay. That's when I saw the carnage. She was bleeding everywhere. I popped her into a bucket and ran her inside to the operating table.

Ute was busy with her Bollywood Dance Workout when I shouted to her to come help me. I briefed her on the gravity of the situation and insisted that she hold the bird upside down while I cleaned the wound. Ute kept murmuring that her stomach hurt. I think the sight of the mangled claw was a bit too much for her. I pressed her on, firmly - o.k. angrily - coaxing her to be strong for Sweet Pea. Hey, I was panicked. Don't judge. After cleaning her dangling digit with peroxide and Neosporin, I made a pathetic attempt to bandage her up. She flicked that gauze off in a matter of seconds. I started crying, which led to Ute weeping. It was a mess. So I called my mother. She lived with chickens when she was young. She told me not to worry. I was still worried. So I told the Disgruntled Farmhand. He asked "Can you see the bone?" Yep. "Then you better take her to the vet." Great. This wasn't going to be cheap. And since time was of the essence, I didn't feel that I could spend the couple hours to further my online veterinary degree today.

After making several phone calls to find someone who would actually see a bird, not to mention a chicken, we made our way to the All Animal Emergency Hospital. We arrived just after noon with 4 emergencies ahead of us. Not good. Neither Ute nor I had eaten lunch. Come to think of it, I hadn't eaten all day. Ute was also beginning to exhibit the telltale signs of having stayed up the night before until 11 p.m, which included whining, tapping on the windows, sliding off the office benches, and exaggerated wiggliness to the point of rolling around on the floor. My patience had worn so thin that the only thing I could do to hold it together was to bury my nose in a celebrity rag mag. It was 3 by the time we saw the vet. All she did was clip off the hanging bits and give it a rinse. Probably could have done that at home. Then came the meds, which included a foot soak solution, pain meds, and an antibiotic. When I got the bill, I nearly passed out. I'm not going to tell you the total, but let's just say that the bird is literally worth her weight in gold now. It will take her a solid 2 years of eggs to recoup the cash.

Sweat Pea will have to be separated from the other birds for up to 2 weeks. I can't use the pine shaving bedding that I've been putting in the brooder because it might get stuck in the wound. Since there is still a chance that the bone could get infected, I'm keeping her on tea towels, which I will change out twice a day. Yay, just what I wanted, more laundry. When we got home, I plopped Sweat Pea and Ute down in front of the TV because I had heard chickens like to watch television. Sweet Pea did seem to enjoy the Power Puff Girls.

This whole event reminded me of the time when I was caught smoking at age 8 - yes, I was very advanced - and my parents told me that I would have to decide my own punishment. Though it was the middle of summer, I made myself a hot cup of tea in order to think this through properly, knowing that I would have to come up with something way worse than a spanking or being grounded. As I walked away from the stove with my freshly poured cup of steaming tea, I ran into the dishwasher with its door open. Instead of doing the right thing by walking around or setting the cup of tea down and closing the washer, I took my standard shortcut of lifting the door with my foot to let the bottom rack roll back into the machine and flipping the door closed. This trick had worked before... every time ... except that day. On that day, I flew over the dishwasher, teacup sailing along with me, and landed on shattered pieces of ceramic. One shard went so deep into the tip of my middle finger that my parents rushed me to the emergency room while I cradled the blood soaked towel that engulfed my injured hand. If I had been more careful and less distracted by having to think up really bad punishments for myself, maybe I could have avoided that entire traumatic episode. I should have walked around that dishwasher. And I should have scooted those chicks off the door frame. Why didn't I? Maybe it was because I was stressed about where we are going to put the goats that are being picked up tomorrow. Maybe it was that I was freaking out and distracted by the fact that I haven't secured a farm sitter for our August vacation. Maybe it's that I couldn't figure out how to adequately express my dog's anal glands this morning. Maybe it's because I'm an asshole. Well I certainly feel like an asshole. I injured the most harmless, sweetest bird of the bunch. And to be honest, if it was Petunia's foot that got crunched, I wouldn't be sitting here with a ridiculous vet bill. She is definitely an asshole.

To top things off, Miss Lorraine and Pearl have some sort of respiratory issue. I think it must be the same thing that Gertrude had. Pearl is sneezy and has boogers clogging one nostril, but Miss Lorraine is really suffering with a swollen pink eye, wattle, and ear/gland thing on the side of her head. They are both eating and drinking, but seem sleepy and out of sorts. Will this ever end? Am I destined to have chronically ill chickens? Do I have Munchausen by Proxy? And so ends another episode of Veterinarian's Hospital. Stay tuned next week when the Disgruntled Farmhand and Sweet Pea swap war stories.

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