Mabel is my 'special needs' chicken. She has no vision in her right eye and on our arrival home I discovered she had the start of a respitatory infection. You know the saying 'The best laid schemes of hens and men, go oft awry'...?
It had all started when I had been considering the size of my flock. Once I'd found Reggie a new home, I'd have not so much a brood of hens, or even some hens, more like...two. Two chickens aren't quite enough, it needs to be at least three. Don't ask me why, as I couldn't tell you.
So this was my plan. To relocate Reggie to his new home and have the new hen arriving on the same day. Sometimes my level of expectation is way off the mark.
I was pretty particular about the new hen I wanted. A Pekin, roughly 15 weeks old and a Milliefleur. I thought, given my fastidious requirements, that my search would take at least as long as the hunt for Reggie's new home.
Two days, TWO! What was that I meant about the best laid schemes.
So Mabel was duly collected the following weekend, with Reg still in residence. I swear, when I was collecting her and even on the drive home their was no noise, nothing untoward about her. But, the moment I turned the car off, 'quark'. Quark? QUARK?
I went inside and opened the box to show my gathering family the new arrival.
Ok, I'll admit that wasn't a normal chicken noise and she would be going to the vets first thing on Monday.
My husband then enquired as to why I insisted on buying broken chickens.
Our quarantine run doesn't have a coop attached to it, so Mabel has to sleep in our house. And just as Betty had done before her, Mabel took to this very well.
If not a little too well...
It was during this indoor time that we noticed her rather odd and exaggerated head movements. Craning her head left and right and banging it on anything that was in the way. She was also quite jumpy. Some frantic waving of hands on her right side produced no reaction, nor did holding titbits there. But if it was held in front of her or to her left she ate it, usually second go after pecking at thin air. If you look at the top picture of her, you can see there's a slight unevenness about her eyes.
So, not only did she have a suspected chest infection, she was also blind in one eye. I certainly do know how to pick 'em.
The visit to the vets confirmed my suspicions - an upper-chest infection. The vet listened to her chest, took her temperature (always entertaining, though probably more so for me rather than the vet or patient) & weighed her. Nothing too serious was declared as there were no accompanying snotty nostrils, unsightly discharge, watery eyes or fluffed up feathers. She was active, eating and drinking. We'd caught it early, phew! One long-acting antibiotic injection later and we were on our way back home.
Back in her pen, it was rather a good job she was a safe distance from the other chickens. Reggie wandered up to see the new arrival and not with his usual 'Hellooo, I want to marry you and raise beautiful chicks together' swagger, oh no. This was his 'I'm going to kick your butt and then I'm going to kick it some more' routine.
Mabel was duly terrified. Her lack of vision means that she panics much more than is usual and began running into the sides of the run. It didn't help that the ever impressionable Brick, picked up on Reggie's behaviour and joined in. I shooed them away but I knew they would eventually have to sort this out between themselves. Though hopefully, when the time came for Mabel to leave the quarantine pen, Reg would be in his new home.
In the meantime, Mabel would carry on spending the evenings re-cooperating in the house. And continue her most favourite activity...
...harassing my husband.