Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Saving Amelia Egghart

Yesterday a strange chicken squawk interrupted my milking reverie.  I looked over and saw a hen pecking at a huddled mass on the ground just as the rooster rushed over.  The hen ran off, and Ghandi stood looking down at the motionless mass of feathers.  Not a feather moved while I finished milking, and I was sure the hen was dead.

After I finished milking and cleaning the stanchion, I went over to see who had died.  When I was almost in touching distance, a little head raised up.  It was Amelia Egghart, the smallest and most adventurous of all the hens.  I picked her up and she unexpectedly settled into my arms.  The chickens aren't pets and don't get handled, but she seemed to know she was safe.

As I carried her back to the house I could feel how cold she was.  Still holding Amelia, I found a box and put her in it.  I covered the box and went back to the barn for some hay and some chicken crumble.

After I washed my hands good I took care of the milk.  There was a bit too much to fit in the jar I had chosen, and I wondered if it might help Amelia get fluids and nourishment at the same time.  When I put the dish of milk in her box she ignored it and just huddled there.  So I dipped my finger in the milk and repeatedly touched it to her beak to drip down where she could taste it.  Still she wouldn't swallow.  Really worried about her now, I gently stroked her back--and she swallowed!  It was really kind of humorous:  drip milk on her beak with one hand, stroke her back with the other, and just like Pac Man she'd gobble down the milk.  Finally she revived enough to take interest in the dish of milk.  After peering at it carefully she tasted it and found it good.  I left her drinking milk, apparently quite content.

 Before I could leave Amelia unattended, I needed to make sure she stayed safely in her box.  I knew there was a reason I kept that old wire freezer drawer!
The final treatment was to take care of her being so cold.  I put the heating pad under her box and turned it on high.  A little while later when I checked her, the air around her was definitely warmer.  I continued to feed her milk throughout the day until she had consumed three bowls-full.  In the evening I switched her to water to be sure she got enough.

When Herb got home we put her on the floor to watch her walk.  She could walk, but in a crouched kind of way as if she couldn't quite straighten her legs.  Ghandi is a huge Light Brahma and Amelia Egghart, probably an Ameraucana bantam, is his constant companion, but also his frequent object of desire.  We wondered if his weight on her might have hurt her legs since she didn't really seem sick.

I checked on Amelia throughout the evening, re-starting her heating pad when it went off and petting her since she seemed to like it, rising to meet my stroking hand almost like a cat.  I went to bed worried about what I would find in the morning because we have never successfully nursed a chicken in the house.  Every chicken that was sick or hurt enough to be brought in has always died.

I had to ask Herb before I could go look this morning, but his report was correct.  In fact, Amelia sat up and looked around, cocking her head at the objects on the counter nearby and staring at them curiously.

Herb said her water was gone when he got up, so he gave her some more.  Now that she's drinking, I'll add some probiotics to her water.  However, she didn't seem to have touched her crumble, and I thought her appetite needed to be perked up.

Quartered blueberries and crumbled English farmhouse cheddar (fairly expensive cheese!) were on the menu.

Amelia approved!  She immediately dove into the cheese, had the blueberries for a salad and even ate some crumble for dessert.  Please don't tell her it's not the crumble that people eat for dessert!

We would have wanted to put Amelia back in the barnyard today so she won't be out of the flock long enough to become an object of heckling.  However, temps today are hovering around freezing with a wind chill to boot, so Amelia gets to stay in the Zephyr Hill Hotel until things warm up.

Unlike her namesake, just maybe this Amelia will be able to make a safe landing back home . . . 


  1. Zephyr Hill Hotel! I love it! Hoping Amelia continues to improve.

  2. This blog post is an all too familiar routine in our household! I am glad she wasn't dead and you were able to help her get well :)

  3. Thank you, Barbara and Mrs. Gillies!


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