Time for an Alkaia update.
As you might recall Alkaia is the tiny chick who lived. She is the one who was too weak to get out of her shell and so (against protest) we helped her out. She survived but then rejected her yolk a few hours after her birth, not a good thing for a newborn chick to do.
As a result of all this life trauma, she continues to have stunted growth. She eats and drinks and joins in with the other chicks’ activites but she is still what I would consider to be in a fragile state.
Here she is pictured next to one of her sisters born one day before her. You can see that her sister is well feathered, is roughly twice the size of Alkaia, and is quite steady on her feet.
Alkaia (in the foreground) is much smaller, still has quite a bit of down mostly around her head (which I find fascinating) and if she is spooked will tumble over her own feet (just look at those tiny toes). But she also comes to me when she sees me and willingly jumps into my hand so that I can carry her around. If she’s excited, she calms down immediately when I hold her to my cheek and make clucking sounds. She may be a chicken but she’s part of our family.
If this little chicks were born to a wild flock (is there such a thing in the US as wild flocks of chickens?) there is no doubt that she would not have survived. But she wasn’t born in a wild flock, she was born into our flock. I think the God of chickens knew what he was doing when he sent her to us. We seem to have a thing for animals that need a little bit more help in life. Our dog Digger is blind (he can see some movement and light), deaf, and has about half his teeth. He also walks funny, sneezes a lot (he has a fistula from his jaw to his sinuses), and smells really, REALLY bad.
But all that doesn’t matter because we love Digger.
Everyday we carry him outdoors (he can no longer tell the depth of steps) and once he’s done there we lead him to the food and water (of which the location is NEVER changed because then Digger wouldn’t be able to find it). He then finds his bed and spends much of the day sleeping (and loudly snoring.)
Every night we carry Digger up to a human bed, the kids take turns sleeping with him as his hair has thinned and he can’t keep his body temperature up. A shivering Digger is a very miserable Digger.
We do this, not to prolong agony (I’ve always said, the day that dog is in pain…) but we do it because it’s not a burden. We owe Digger a comfortable life for the many years of joys he’s given us. He’s still bringing us joy.
I’m not sure what’s going to happen with Alkaia, her lack of feathers will be a problem in just a few short weeks as we head into the New Hampshire fall but rest assured, she will be taken care of. I’m not sure of what exactly we’ll need to do but if we need to keep her indoors we will, if I need to order a handmade down coat for her, I’ll be on the phone in a minute. If we need to feed her separately (as we are doing for one hen who is getting pecked on this summer) we will. I’ll do what it takes to take care of her.
After going through so very much to get here, I’m thinking she’s deserves the best care we can give her. It’s what you do for the members of your flock.