Just One Friend

Just One Friend

Saturday Blanche did not seem like herself. She was sluggish, less active, more solitary. She was not displaying enough of the symptoms I’ve read about for various chicken health problems to be able to identify anything specifically. If she wasn’t just a little over a year and a half old, I would say it was just old age, sort of like with me on some days.

Sunday morning, she struggled to come down the chicken ladder. In the evening, she couldn’t make her way back up. So I held her for a while, but not so long as to make her uncomfortable since she never has been one to need much human contact, just food. Then I placed her inside the coop. She made it up onto the crate that is a kind of “step-up” to the top of the nesting box where she and Pearl sleep. But that was as far as she got.

Maybe she just wasn’t able. Maybe she just wanted some solitude without Pearl to get her strength back. It was difficult to know.

Monday she came down by herself, had more of an appetite, went up by herself, and even got up onto their regular sleeping spot. Pearl was noticeably relieved.

Tuesday she was much the same, but she didn’t make it up on top of the nesting box for the night. It may have been Blanche and Pearl were waiting for me to get home, but their good light was gone by the time they had given up. (Lately I’ve been able to make it back while there was still some daylight, and they get bedtime treats.)

Pearl has been…I’m really not sure if there is a word to fit how Pearl has been. She just knows Blanche has not been feeling well. Blanche has never shown any helplessness through this, but Pearl certainly has.

Pearl has been like a worried little chick all over again.

Pearl has tried to entertain Blanche and get her attention off of her condition much like we would try to cheer up a sad or sick friend. It only seems right she would do those things as they are best friends.

The most telling thing of all comes in the mornings. Pearl will let Blanche have first choice of the items in their breakfast salad and mealworms. Pearl will stand back while Blanche picks through and eats her favorites and seems satisfied. Then and only then will Pearl have anything to eat.

At times, Pearl will look at Blanche and then at me, wanting me to make Blanche better.

I know how helpless Pearl feels because I feel the same. I just can’t show it because I don’t want to cause any greater alarm. Surely Pearl has been thinking, “Why don’t you do something?” (But haven’t we all thought the same at least once when difficulties come our way and when we must face circumstances which are beyond our ability to fix?)

Blanche will stand facing into the corner of the run with her side to the sun. Maybe the warmth helps her, and the corner gives her some privacy and a feeling of protection. Maybe she feels like she can concentrate on getting better like that, even though it makes Pearl more worried.

In the evenings I can tell how Blanche’s day had been by how Pearl coos, either happily or sadly.

Blanche has not fully recovered, and we have more cold weather headed our way which may make things only worse for her.

Blanche has her physical distress. Pearl has her emotional distress. I’m unsure which is worse, but knowing Pearl as I do, I have a feeling this is weighing heavily on her. She will be lost without Blanche, her best friend.

To be honest, it is not always easy to believe a couple of chickens matter, particularly when I look up into the deep and awesome enormity of the night sky…or at the suffering of my neighbors around the world. Yet Blanche and Pearl and the others do matter, and so we say our evening prayers. We are grateful for each day, for lovingkindness, and for friendship.

My Life With Gracie helped me understand the power of just one friend.

This post has been delayed because of Blanche’s condition. I didn’t want to post until I felt she was recovering or at least stable. Usually I share more pleasant and happy stories, and somethimes extremely imaginative stories. This one is none of those things, but sometimes life just goes that way.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

Lost And Not Afraid

Lost And Not Afraid

“I think I need to travel far away,” she said to me as she sat in my arms, cradled snugly against my chest. “I think I need to go so far away that I’m lost.”

“Why do you want to do that, Amelia?”

“Then I will know if I can be lost and not afraid.”

I didn’t say anything. I just listened.

“Then I need to know if I can find my way back home again to you and the others.”

“Why do you need to know that, Amelia?”

She looked far off into the morning sunrise. “Because if I can make it back, then it means I really do belong here after all, and I will never need to go away ever again.”

“I see.”

“And if I can’t make it back, then that means something else. I don’t know what it will mean, but if it happens like that, then I will know.”

She looked at me to make sure I wasn’t angry or disappointed with her.

“What if I find out I belong somewhere else…even though my heart would be broken to never see you and the others ever again? It could be like that. You know?”

Then she said what troubled her the most. “What if I find I want to come back but can’t?”

“Amelia, you have been thinking about these things for a long time, haven’t you?”

“Yes. Yes, I have.” There was a silence all around us. Then she asked, “What do you think?”

“You should never make a decision out of fear…not a decision to be part of our family here, or a decision to remain, or a decision to go away. Love and fear don’t ever belong together.”

Amelia thought over these words carefully.

“I think you have to do what your heart is telling you to do. Either way, my heart will be broken. But you know that already, don’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

“If you don’t travel far away enough to answer all those questions, you will never be at peace. I don’t think you would be happy not knowing. Your unhappiness would break my heart even though I still had you here with me.”

“And if I traveled far away?”

“My heart would be broken every minute you are away, but I would know you are doing what you have to do, and that would make me happy for you, and so the pain would not be as bad.”

“Would you wait for me to come back?”

“Oh, yes. Without a doubt. I would wait for you and watch for you every day.”

“You realize I might not come back? And that you would be waiting for nothing?”

“No. I wouldn’t be waiting for nothing. You are so much more than nothing. I love you, Amelia. You know I would fly with you if I could, don’t you?”

“Yes. I know that now.”

“Do you need for me to help you pack? Is there anything you want to take with you?”

“No. I don’t really own anything other than myself.”

“Yes, I know. But I thought you might want to carry a little container of sunflower kernels with you. They are small, but they have a lot of energy in them that you might need.”

“Can I decide later? Maybe tomorrow?”

“Yes, of course you can. Take as long as you need.”

I held her closer.

“Would it be alright if I give you a good-bye kiss on the head now? I don’t want to forget later. And you might find that the time to leave is when I’m not here.”

“Yes, I guess that would be okay,” she said.

We both closed our eyes, not wanting the moment to end. “You are so much more than nothing,” I whispered in her ear.

My Life With Gracie (and especially Amelia) taught me never to make a decision out of fear…only out of love.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

Family Photo Friday!

Family Photo Friday

Hold onto your hearts! This week’s photo is one of my sweet Emily, a true Little Lady if there ever was one.

She is an early riser, and yesterday morning when I opened the coop, she had already laid an egg for me. She hurried down the ladder to get her breakfast while I held her still-warm treasure in my hand. She is such a good chicken.

Emily and Amelia joined our little flock just about a year ago. They are best friends, different from each other and different from all of the others.

Although she is the smallest by far, she still works hard to lay eggs as big as everyone else. She makes sure she is never overlooked, and always has something to say even though her voice is smaller and softer (and much more ladylike) than the rest.

Her feathers are beautiful, don’t you think? Against the straw in the run, you may see how the feather colors and patterns help to camouflage her. They would be perfect in the shadowy brush of a forest, the original home of domesticated chickens.

It was a vacation day for me, so I took my chair inside the run and enjoyed my second cup of coffee while everyone had their breakfast salad. Emily spent some time checking out my project pants and shoes just in case some of the paint specks might really be bugs for breakfast. They could be camouflaged too!

You can read more about all of my chickens on this page.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. When I can, I like to post these photos so you know these are real chickens even though some of our adventures may not be. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!