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.

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