Doreen’s been having a few challenges lately. She’s our newest chook, however she’s not that new. She’s probably lived here for 6 months or more now. As a new chook I understood a few of her quirks. She has to find her place. She has to get to know her new home. She has to get to know and trust us and the other girls. Plus she has history.
Doreen belonged to a beautiful little family I know, and lived in their back yard in Sunset Beach with her mate Bruce. One day the family went travelling and Doreen and Bruce were left in the care of some caring neighbours. But then something tragic happened to Bruce (too tragic to even speak of). Doreen was alone. My friend called and asked if we could help Doreen out, so my biggest girl and I ran a rescue mission in the pouring rain. She was really wet, and alone and Bruce was gone to chook heaven (where there are endless sunflower seeds and worms).
We brought her home and put her in with our girls. I think there were about 9 or 10 (a couple have also joined Bruce in chook heaven since then) and she was understandably nervous. She was used to one other chook. She was used to her backyard and her family and in our backyard everything was new. Full credit to my girls, I didn’t see much hen pecking. Given her personality and perhaps the disappearance of Bruce, Doreen was not the type to try and pull rank.
And all was as it should be.
And then one day I did the thing that I like to do with our girls, which is to put them out the front of our house on the lawn to have grass and dust baths and generally shit up the front veranda. Doreen wouldn’t have a bar of it. Gently, every day, I would carry her out and every evening traumatise her further by trapping her in the corner of the yard and catching her and carrying her home. Week by week she got braver. The first time she did the “chicken run” from the back to the front she clucked loudly the whole way. Warning I think. Or doing that excited but fearful noise kids make when they want you push the swing higher but it’s scary and exciting at the same time. That noise. If this was a video blog I’d do you a demo, but right now lets just imagine.
I was so proud of her brave, little, fluffy, black feet. Imagine how fast her tiny, little chicken heart was beating! I still had to chase her and trap her and carry her home for a while, and then one day she started doing that too.
So every morning we have a routine where I go for a walk and then I get home and scoop the dog poop from the driveway and then lock the dogs in the pool yard and then let the chooks out to run like lunatics to the front and then let the dogs out. Every evening I lock the dogs in the pool yard, and open the gates and the chooks run home like lunatics. And Doreen has got the gist of it all.
But for the last week or so Doreen seems to have gone backwards. A few times the dogs have gotten out and fuck up the entire process by foolishly standing around in front of the gates looking surprised when I tell them to bugger off. No matter how loudly Doreen clucks they will not move. A few days ago she ran off towards home and then got waylaid by a wayward dog and ended up running back towards the front yard. I put the dogs away (again) and started to (dog-style but without the stupid face) direct Doreen back home. She just couldn’t get it! It’s like she didn’t know where home was. I thought perhaps she was panicked (you know when you’re panicked you can’t see the way the go) or not trusting that the dogs wouldn’t get out again (you know when you’ve been scared or hurt by someone before and you’re not sure it’s worth the risk to do it again) or just being contrary (you know when you think, oh fuck you I know you’re trying to guide me home but I’m not doing that today). Anyway, she eventually got home safely after a lot of me running around in circles and generally entertaining my kids and then dogs.
But today, this morning, on the way out to the front Doreen was a bit slow and then she missed the gate and walked into the wall! She walked into the wall with her little fluffy head. And I realised!
DOREEN CAN’T SEE.
She’s got the cutest, fluffiest little back head (to go with her brave, fluffy, black feet) and there’s some FLUFF IN HER EYE. So she can’t see the way home or the way out the front. And understandably that’s making her feel a bit nervous.
A bit later I’m going to give her a trim (I have gone hunting her with the scissors already but she’s under the house and I’m not the kind to drag chooks kicking and screaming from under the house. When she’s ready to come out, I’m sorting it). Because that’s what I do.
Sometimes you can’t always see WHY you can’t see. And all the time you can’t see WHAT you can’t see. Sometimes you need someone to help you with that.