Still Kickin’

Gertie is a tough little gal. Let’s hope this–her second tough night–is successful and I find her pecking about tomorrow morning in the run with the other gals. 

Last night when everyone went to bed and were roosting comfortably in the coop, I placed Gert in the coop with everyone else and went in the house, saying a quiet little prayer. Looked outside 20 minutes later and there she was, back down in the run, standing like a zombie near the water bowl. So I put her back up. Ten minutes later, same thing. After the third time, I put a bowl of water in the coop next to her, hoping she wouldn’t pass out and drown her little head in it. It kept entering my mind that she was coming back out so she could die alone, like many animals in the wild will. But she didn’t die. Thank God. After a sleepless night of getting up and going to shine a flashlight out my kitchen window, expecting to see Zombie Gert again standing rigidly in the run all alone, I woke up this morning to a living, breathing set of Australorps, although Gertie was still worse-than-lethargic. Dare I hope?

But today was much the same as yesterday: tail droopy, eyes closed most of the time, unmoving. Syringe-feeding with antibiotic-laced water every few hours, emulsified tomato soup with peas, carrots, and beans–also syringe-fed if she wanted it–and vitamin-soaked green grapes. She also ate a few good little bites of watermelon. 

It’s heartbreaking to see Dot going through this confusing time. She lays with Gertie in her little corners, gets up when Gertie stands like a little zombie, watches me VERY closely (her sharp beak not too far from my medicine-administering hands) as I hold Gert and syringe-feed her. She and Gert have been attached almost literally at the hip since day one. And it’s no different now. I just hope and pray that we don’t lose Gertie for Dot’s sake, as well.

In the midst of all this, we are experiencing record-setting rainfall in St. Pete, and since I live in a flood zone, there have been 2-3 inches of standing water everywhere–so much so that I had to go and buy stepping stones to get from my house to the coop without getting drenched. And with all the rain, the trillions of little fine-featured African American ants (must give credit to Kelly for that one) that live here  have all come to the surface and are climbing on EVERYTHING, including Gertie’s poor, immobile legs. I almost wonder if that’s the one thing snapping her out of her occasional frozen state–eat that ant that just bit me!

And another lovely caveat: there’s a red-shouldered hawk who tried to grab one of the gals while they were free-ranging in the backyard yesterday. I was in the house for five minutes, heard Goldie alert, ran outside, and no chickens to be found. Goldie and the other big girls were hunkered down in the roots of my fishtail Palm trees. I found Gertie and Dot laying in terrified little puddles on opposite sides of the yard. Grabbed everyone up and into the run they went. While I was drying Gertie with a towel, that damn hawk actually tried to come through the clear run ceiling to grab at them! Thank God for overhead protection.

And now, this exhausted nurse needs a glass of wine. More tomorrow…