Sunday, August 07, 2011

Journal of a Living Lady #403

The serious column I wrote last brought more response from Sentinel readers than any other I have written in the last twelve years. Even today while breakfasting with Buddy at McDonald’s, I was approached by a man who commented on its bold truthfulness. If missed, you can read it at, column 402.

It has been a struggle these last few days to decide whether to continue writing now as a serious pundit or return to a sometimes humorous style of reporting daily living. My feeling is that if a survey were taken, most would feel that there is already an abundance of pundits in the media and few who try to bring a smile. Regardless of opinion, I must today write about water- boarding and murder.

Besides our rude rooster who announces morning, Buddy and I have three female chickens. Their names are Henney, Penney, and a pet hen I used to call “Not Inney.”
Not Inney finally got a name change when she too began giving us an egg a day. We looked forward to baby chicks during the early summer, but none of the hens cared a cluck about sitting. In desperation, I dug out our ancient incubator. The instructions were lost long ago, so I had to guess at the temperature and humidity settings.

Son Charlie and I both have new IPads with cameras, so grandson Micah was able to watch the hatching of Spunky#1 in real time. He was excited because the first chick born was promised to him.

Unfortunately, out of the dozen eggs, only two chicks hatched. Spunky was first. The other one died within an hour of hatching. From my former hobby of raising cockatiels, I learned how to hand-feed birds with a syringe or dropper. I did this quite successfully with over a hundred cockatiel chicks and no fatalities. With hand-raised, exotic birds, you can push food or water down the side of their throats, filling their crops, until they are able to eat on their own. It seemed logical to me that what was good for the cockatiels would be equally good for a Rhode Island Red baby chicken.

At first I placed a drop of water on baby Spunky’s beak, allowing the water to drop into her gaping beak. This was obviously an unwanted hydration attempt. She vigorously shook each drop off the edge of her beak. Yet, her annoyingly chirps continued non-stop.

Figuring she had to be hungry and thirsty, I took the syringe full of water and tried again. Spunky still wanted no part of it. I pushed the resistant plunger with a tad more pressure. All at once the water gushed down.

Surprisingly Spunky relaxed. She rested perfectly still in my hand. My elation lasted just seconds when it became obvious that the water had not gone into Spunky’s belly but into her windpipe. Spunky was dead. I had accidentally water-boarded her.

Spunky was guilty of nothing. I was guilty of second-degree murder. The least I could do was to attempt artificial respiration. My thumb pressed rhythmically and gently on her breast. It was to no avail. Within minutes she was cold and stiff. I was sweaty and nauseous.

Determined to get it right, I gathered another dozen eggs and have waited patiently for 21 days. Yesterday, Spunky #2 hatched. After her fuzzy exterior dried in the incubator, I placed her in a make-shift brooder and sprinkled tiny grains of mash on the floor along with a jar lid of water. Minutes ago, a sibling hatched and will soon join Spunky.

If all goes well, maybe I have been redeemed.

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