But somehow, despite that fact, several weeks ago I found myself driving 4 hours home that week with a 2-week old chicken in a box in the front seat of my car. She was so weak in the legs she often tipped over, unable to right herself without assistance, prompting us to name her Teeter, as in Teeter-Totter. She was so weak, I was sure she would die.
She did not.
In the several weeks since that drive home, Teeter has grown into a strong, boisterous, talkative, entertaining, almost-big-enough-to-put-with-the-flock chicken. She spends her days outside in a wire dog kennel under the shade of an apple tree, where she can watch and interact (safely) with the rest of the flock as they gather around her cage on their many rounds around the yard.
We are so happy with her progress. When I am home on the weekends, one of my favorite ways to start the morning is to take my cup of coffee out to the front porch and sit with her on my lap. After investigating for anything good to peck at on my jeans, she will sit down and begin to preen herself and then, inevitably, her lower eyelids will slowly slide up and her eyes will close and her head will sink in a short snooze.
Adding Teeter to our flock brought our number up to 16. Then sadly, last week, we lost one of our laying hens, a sweet Barred Rock named Thelma. A predator attack on the coop where the chickens are locked in at night ended up with Thelma fatally wounded. We think the line of electric around the perimeter finally frightened the attacker off, but not before the damage was done.
Even though we expected losses when we got our chicks as babies in April, after four months of watching them grow up and bonding with them, it was still incredibly sad to lose one. Thelma was always one of the first chickens to run up to me when I brought out their carrot shred treats. She would spy me across the yard and start racing towards me, leading the rest of the flock in her wake.
Losing Thelma brought our number back down to 15.
Then this week I had a strange Deja Vu as I once again found myself driving the 4 hour route home from the Big Farm with a chicken in a box in the front seat of my car. This little 2-month old hen was injured when we were moving the coop to a fresh patch of grass one day. For the first 48 hours we left her near her flock in the shade of the coop but brought her food and water several times a day as she was unable to move to the feeders with her injuries.
I thought for sure she was dying.
After 48 hours, I found her standing up for short periods of time on her left leg, but her right leg still hung limply. I started to think she might not die. Then, as before, I was faced with the quandary of what to do with her when it was time to go back home to my Little Farm 4 hours away. She really couldn't keep up with her stronger, healthier flock mates. I feared she would slowly starve to death or get trampled by the flock. And the week had already yielded too much heartbreak. My hen, stillborn crias, a dead mama. I couldn't save those babies. Maybe I could save this chicken.
I already had one chicken in a cage at home. My friends at the Big Farm already think I'm crazy. I had nothing to lose.
Thus, the long drive home with another chicken in a box on the front seat of my car.
On the drive home, I kept thinking about ravens, but just chocked it up to the fact that she is a black bird that sort of kind of resembles a raven. Later when I asked Papa Bear what we should call her, without skipping a beat he answered, "Raven."
Raven has come to live on the Little Farm, bringing our flock numbers once again to 16.
What a beautiful and mysterious world this is.