Friday, April 14, 2006

Slightly Easter-ish

Started feeling a bit better this evening. I had a bowl of apple porridge for dinner. Yums. A bit easier to think of than soup.


So. I was telling one of the 20sixers (Sunshinechick) about the chicken I had in Texas. It was a real white one that ate, pooped, and laid loads of double-yolked eggs for the heck of it.

When it was a baby, I called it Cammie (why???) and held my breath hoping it wouldn't grow into a stupid rooster. It thought I was its mummy. It would take naps under my shirt and then emerge to poop on a tissue.

If I set it on the floor at one end of the room and walked towards the other, it would run pell mell for my feet. Before I even reached the other side of the room I'd be tripping over the little thing!

At bedtime, I'd wrap it snugly in a little felt cloth and pop it in - funny enough - a mini easter egg basket. If the cloth loosened an iota, in the middle of the night, Cammie would set to cheeping until I got up and re-wrapped it.

Cammie died while we were on holiday. While she started running away from me, she developed quite a nice relationship with my uncle. He'd sit on the deck drinking a beer and she'd hang about at his feet. One day, a dog came in and mauled her.


My first chicken was a really interesting one, a Japanese silky:

They are born nekkid and black! They are the ugliest, bitsiest-looking things when their feathers are coming through. But once that's over, poof! A powder puff on legs. When I bathed her, she was a sorry shivering lump, but as she dried she went poof again and smelled good too :P

I called her Silky (original!), she used to purr if I scratched her neck and the top of her head, a tuft she could not reach. Also, she would never eat tidbits if we threw them in front of her. Only out of the hand, oh la.
And finally, her little eggs (one every couple of days, because we used to feed her Layette pellets) had a pretty ivory shell and the yolks were a rich reddish orange.

These precious eggs she refused to lay outdoors. She always, always came indoors. We would follow her round the living room with a cloth as she pranced about choosing a chair. Up she'd jump onto the couch, pick a bit, get the cloth stuffed under her.
Nope, not good enough.
Down we go again.
How about the wing chair? Give that a try...nope.
Hop off indignantly.
Maybe the club chair. Hm, this will do. I'll lay here, if you please.

It all started because Mum begged me to have a chicken. She said it was a good experience because she remembered the rooster her Dad used to favour. He called him William. The two of them spent hours on the verandah together. William....*snigger*


This one is the most unusual. We had loads of zebra finches over the years.

The one on the left is a female - she is buff grey all over and the only decoration she owns is her tear drop cheeks. Some females are white all over with black teardrops. We've had both types.

They all successfully nested like this:

Love and Joy had Peace and Hope, etc.

Our last pair was Meep and Minnie (in the US). Meep comes from the plaintive little sound they make - you can always set them off in a flurry of meeps if you do it too.

Meep refused to be a mother. She would sit on the eggs, hatch them, starve and then smother the little babbies with the bedding. We removed the nest. My parents and I stood there in dismay, counting the flattened dead chicks. I could take it no more. Rather than throttle Meep, I decided to rescue the last survivor.

Yes, I was in charge of my own hatchling, and though normally timid and flighty, they can be pretty friendly if hand-reared.

Looooooook! It was so pathetic and teeny I called it Thingy. Even now, I miss it...
The wee little thing was so cold in my hand.
Good heavens, what to feed it?
Leftover baby formula from when Mum babysat the neighbour's son!
With the tip of a toothpick, painstakingly, in the palm of my hand.
No worries, I have patience for this kind of thing. Wanted to be a vet once.

Thingy grew! Without even setting an alarm, I got up every two hours to feed him (I am going to be such a good Mum!), always keeping a preparation of formula on my bedside table. Thingy slept there in a tiny shallow basket lined with cotton pads under a warm desk lamp.

Thingy started to sprout fluff like the ones in the photo above. He got strong enough to flip about a bit. One day, at feeding time, he uttered a wee lil' squeak! I was so excited I squeaked too!

But then one day we had to make the long drive between Houston and Dallas in the middle of the ever-scorching 100-degree summer sun. Protected somewhat by coastal humidity in Houston, the sun becomes prickly and relentless in Dallas. Fry an egg on the bonnet and all that. As I drove, Mum did all she could to shield Thingy from sunlight. We made it.

But then Thingy died the next day from the noxious fumes after my Gran went overboard with bug spray in the next room, chasing a cockroach.

I mean, he was just beginning to get excited about greeting me at feeding time!!! He was even strong enough to flip over in my palm. I had a little cry.

If we hadn't gone to flipping Dallas, where nothing ever went right anyway, I would have had a tame Zebra finch.


M. said...

Oh my. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at some of these stories. :/ Poor birdies.

Why did you have to drive to Dallas in the middle of the summer?!

Jia Li said...

awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww...makes me wanta cry...what a sweet storie

Chris in MB said...

That's just so depressing.

Olivia said...

Mers - because that's where my grandmother chose to move to. It's the most boring city in the world.

Jia Li - :')

Chris - surely not! Why not "touching"?

Steliano Ponticos said...

all the post is great but Thingy's story is so touching -and I hadn't read your comment when I chose this word- its so touching about what you did to take care of him him and about him growing up..and the end is saaaaaaaaaaad. And its wonderful how you invented ways of feeding him and a place for him to sleep ad things like that.

Jia Li said...

yeah Thingy's story is so touching

Olivia said...

Steli - your comment is delightful! Thank you.

Awwwww I just remembered something. Thingy used to get gas - you could see the bubble in his belly. I would lay him on his back in my hand and lightly massage his tummy with my little finger until he passed it out. I burped the birdie.

M. said...

Dallas...been to the airport, don't care to go back.

I suppose it's only normal, but wow, it never occurred to me that birds get gas. -_- Still, it is so sweet of you to help Thingy like that.

Leilouta said...

I love your chicken story.
I bought 5 chicks when I was a kid at my grandfather's house.
3 of them survived and I raised them.
I loved them so much that I refused to go anywhere for fear that my younger cousins would hurt them.
My aunt begged me once to go to her house and spend a few nights. I took them with me there :)
There is much more to the story, but I'll save it to future post :)

Steliano Ponticos said...

well this proves what i said in the comment, olivia. you really invented a way to do anything he needed, that's great.

Steliano Ponticos said...

why did i say he..i mean thingy -was thingy boy or girl?

Olivia said...

Leilouta - I am sure your chicken story will be a good laugh :)
Look forward to reading it.

Steli - it was too young to tell, but I naturally said "he". There is still something a bit more neutral in calling an animal "he" than "she", and "he" sounds more kind than "it", if you know what I mean.

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