Thursday, August 04, 2005

Fun and the Near Disaster

Phyllis and I went to pick out the tile for my new kitchen and studio floor this morning. First we drove to St. Stephen to leave Plummer (her dog) to have his hair done. Then we drove back to Calais to have a look at the tile at Marden's and EBS. I found something I liked at EBS, but when the woman there told us it would be over a thousand dollars for the amount we needed I was aghast. Phyllis was unruffled and reminded me that the floor had to last forever, that it had a good warranty, etc. I was unconvinced that any floor was worth that kind of money and refused her offer to buy it. We went to Marden's, where I felt comfortable among the ripped-open packages and discount prices. I decided to get the same kind of flooring that David has in his kitchen, which I have long admired. It was still expensive, and I felt very strange standing there while Phyllis paid for it. Many aspects of this process is quite surreal. We then had lunch back in St. Stephen and picked up the very handsomely groomed Plummer. The ride home was beautiful with big, puffy clouds against a blue, blue sky above our heads and the quiet water to our left. I like being with Phyllis and it was a fun day.

There was still some of the afternoon left and I went to Judy's to spend some time with the art group. David presented me with the new sound system he had bought to go with my computer. It is as if everywhere I go new things are falling on me. I really can't take it all in. I set up the system when I got home, with more difficulty than I imagined, but it is in place and working, I think. I can't figure out how to play a CD, and am too overwhelmed to figure it out now.

After the visit to Judy's, I came home and went out to feed the chickens. I had left them out while I was gone, and they all clucked happily (or so I interpret the sound they make) and came running to meet me. I had bottles of water with me for them, so found it difficult to close the flimsy gate I have rigged up. I left it hanging loosely while I gave them their Triscit treats and filled up their water dish. Suddenly Patrick streaked across the yard and began running along the fence, barking furiously. Two of the chickens ran out through the gate and into the bushes with Patrick close on their trail. Then I saw Lytton jump over the porch railing and head after them. I didn't know what to do first, but opted to secure the remaining two chickens in their house before seeing what I could do about the ruckus. It took some time to convince them to go in, but finally I closed the inner door on them and went to find the dogs. I saw Lytton fairly quickly, but of course he wouldn't come to me. I went back to close Benny in the house before he, too, got off the porch, and to get two leashes, visions of dead chickens running through my head. When I came out again, Annie was standing by the chicken house and gladly joined the two others inside when I let her in. Within a few minutes I spotted Lytton running around the neighbor's yard and sweet-talked him into coming to me. I put his leash on him and took him back to the house.

I returned to the yard to look for Patrick and the last chicken, Demeter. I walked all over the neighborhood, into the fields behind the house and the bank, along County Road. I called and called, but had no hope that Patrick would come to me. Eventually he showed up, though, appearing from nowhere, and I led him back home. I checked for chicken blood on his face, but couldn't see any.

My last unhappy task was to search for Demeter. I had little hope that I could actually find her, and expected that if I did, she would be dead. I pushed my way through the thorny rose bushes between my yard and the one next door, back and forth, back and forth, calling "here, chick chick, here chick chick." Whenever I got within earshot of the chicken house, the three others answered me, but I saw no sign of Demeter. Nevertheless, I continued to search and finally saw some brown feathers under a dense growth of bushes. I crawled under them on my hands and knees, expecting the worse, but when I got close enough I could see that the feathers were moving slightly. Demeter looked like a pile of rubble, but she was alive. She was covered with her own feathers, but when I reached out brushed them off her head, I could see that her eyes were open and alert. For some time I wondered whether she was too injured to be saved, running possibilities through my head about what to do. I couldn't tell if she even had any legs, and when I pushed her gently, she just fell to one side. Summoning all my courage, I reached in and picked her up. I could see that one wing was injured, but otherwise she looked to be in one piece. I backed out from under the shrubbery, holding her carefully, and carried her back to the chicken house. I stood her on the ground, but she held one foot curled up and started to tip over. When I pulled her foot out to its proper position and she put it down, standing in a daze, weaving slightly. I checked her over for injuries and found only the one rather mangled wing with a puncture in it. While I inspected her, she stretched out to peck at a piece of chicken feed, so my hopes rose. After placing her in with her companions, I went back to the house and called the vet's emergency number, feeling a little foolish. Still, I had to see if there was anything I could do to enhance her chances of survival. The vet called me back and was very nice. Her advice was to put hydrogen peroxide on the wound and hope for the best. She said Demeter was probably in shock, but chickens are hardy and can survive a lot.

An hour or so later I went out to check and all seemed well. I took a shower to soothe my scratches and wash the sticks and leaves out of my hair.

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