Posted 12-30-2003 at 20:11:59
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It only took the promise of a new CD, but I managed to get Jenny to do all the feeding by herself for the first time this afternoon. And why not. At thirteen, she's the youngest, but she is more than capable. Besides, the new CD is Lynard Skynard, and I get to borrow it.(grin)
Feeding everybody takes about thirty minutes and I was a little anxious that she did everything she was supposed to do, so the minute she came in the door I started the inquisition.
"Did you remember to water?" I asked.
"Yeah, and guess....."
"Did you remember to turn the water off when you were done?"
"Yes. Mom, guess what...."
"You fed the dogs, right? Collected the eggs?"
I knew she was anxious to tell me something, but I wanted to catch her while she was still standing in the doorway, in case she did forget to do something.
"What about Blitz?" I asked.
Blitz is Jake's new hunting dog. Jenny's used to feeding four dogs, not five, and Blitz is penned up off by himself.
"Crap!" She said, with all her heart.
"I reminded you before you went out, Jen. I know you want to tell me something, but run on out and take care of Blitz and then come tell me. Okay?"
Stomp, stomp, stomp. Finally she returned and I gave her my undivided attention.
"You're not going to believe this." She said, her cheeks all flushed with exertion, and her eyes... slightly troubled.
"Well I was in the shed getting feed, and there was this chicken sitting there, just looking at me."
That didn't seem like that bigga deal to me.
"Yeah. I went out to feed the boars and when I came back she was still sitting there in the same place, up on top of that empty barrel."
"Well, even when I fed the rest of the chickens she just sat there and watched...and I thought...you dumb chicken, just sit there and go hungry, big dummy."
"Sounds fair to me."
"Well, I got done all the feeding and while I was watering I got to thinking, and it seemed to me that I remembered that same chicken sitting in that same spot yesterday too."
"Maybe she just likes that spot." I said, trying to figure out where the heck she was going with this. Was she going to tell me that the chicken was dead... sitting bolt upright on top of a barrel?
"That's what I thought at first but then I thought, why would she like that spot? There's no hay to lay on and no food or water, so something must not be right."
"Good reasoning. So what did you do?"
"I went out there and I reached for her, and she didn't try to get away from me, she just let me pick her right up, and then I found out why, she had a string wrapped around her leg. Somehow she got into a ball of string that was on the shelf and she got it all tangled around her leg and she COULDN'T get down."
Now I could see why her eyes were troubled. She had seen that chicken sitting there yesterday and when it didn't react normally to feeding time, she didn't question it. Now she was busily working herself into a hefty little guilt trip.
"She sat there all night and all day with no food and no water, Mom."
"Well I guess that's probably true." I said, noncommitally. I didn't know whether to let her off the hook or not. Maybe this was a good lesson.
"I cut the string off her leg and and I put her by herself and gave her some feed and she started eating like crazy."
Still with those two big brown guilt ridden eyes looking up at me.
I could have told her that she wasn't responsible for some dumb chicken getting herself all tangled up in a bit of string. I could have told her that these things happen, especially to dumb chickens. I could have eased her conscience for her in a half dozen different ways. But I didn't. I didn't because, well...because of Blitz.
"Jenny, when an animal acts in an unusual manner, there is always a reason. Maybe they are sick or maybe like this chicken, they have some other problem that we can't easily see. When they act in a way that is not normal, you should always question it. She didn't get down when you put the chicken feed out yesterday, right?"
She shook her head, her eyes on the floor.
"That's when you should have checked honey, and you wouldn't be feeling badly now that she went all night and all day with no food and no water." Then I got to where I was really going. "Like Blitz would have, if I hadn't asked you if you had fed him."
I think if she could have found a handy hole she would have crawled into it.
"You have to look at every one of those animals, Jen. Feeding time is the best time to do it. Look at every one of them. Are any of them not eating? Are any of them out of water? Are any of them acting or walking funny? It only takes a few seconds. Feeding doesn't just amount to dumping some food in there, you have to look at every one of them, and if you do, there's no way you will forget to feed any of them, like you almost did Blitz. Now I want you to go outside before it gets dark and walk around and look at every animal out there, and if you find anything strange, you come and tell me, okay?"
"Okay." Head still down, she went on her way to do her checking.
After she did her second round I let the matter go, hoping that she learned her lesson. I was confident that I didn't have to go out and follow up on her work and we went off to town without another word about the chicken or the string or Blitz and how he almost went hungry tonight, and we didn't talk about how those animals rely on us for every single thing they need, because I didn't think we needed to, but together we stood side by side in the music department at Walmart, and as promised, we picked out a new Lynard Skynard CD. That I get to borrow if I want to. (grin)