Gimpy, our little hen who had been viciously attacked during the summer continues to amaze us.
Although fully healed, she is left with a significant mobility deficit. I’m not quite sure what is going on with her, whether it’s something in her wing, leg, or even in her chest, but she tends to list to her left. So much so that we have to be very careful about how we approach her.
If she gets startled, she’ll begin running and although she thinks she is running away from us, because of her injury, she ends up traveling in a leftward spiral until she eventually loses her balance and falls over – feet pawing the air, a turtle on her back.
At which point we pick her up, comfort her, and set her on the right path again.
We’ve all learned how to adapt. Several times a day I check on Gimpy and if she’s on her side and can’t get up, I go out to help her. There is no blame, no passing of judgement, just a simply, “there you go” and we’re both on our way.
I’m careful to set her down near water and food and away from uneven ground where a misstep can send her rolling – feathers flapping over feathers.
Gimpy has learned how to live with her new limitations. Before she was injured, she would have never let me pick her up – she was one of those chickens who would keep her distance and would take off if I even tried to approach her. Now when dusk comes and it’s time for her to be put back in her private coop, she actually comes up to me and sits down near my feet anticipating that I’ll pick her up.
If I get to her after dusk, she’s learned to hide in the same spot, cooing a song when I call, knowing that I’ll eventually be there to bring her safely home.
Gimpy has learned to trust us and has allowed us to help her when she needs it. That’s not an easy thing for any living creature to do.
I’ve said over the years that we can learn so much from our flocks. Gimpy continues to teach me lessons on living with a disability. Like anyone who has a life altering event, Gimpy has learned how to live, survive, and thrive with her new reality. It’s not what she had expected, it’s not what she wanted, but it’s what she got.
The response to her condition was simple, she had the choice of not trusting us and not letting us help her, or she could realize that we meant no harm and allow us to help her – recognizing that she’s still a valuable member of the flock. One path led to a slow painful death, while the other led to continued life and productivity.
It’s exactly what *we* have to do when we get blindsided with a disability or chronic illness, we can either shut down and refuse help, or we can reach out and adapt to our new reality. It’s not easy. Oh I know it’s not easy, but reaching out is the one choice that allows us to keep moving forward.
Because in the end, that’s what’s most important in life, that we find a way to always move forward.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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