Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Hospital

Sasha is the little black hen in the middle of the group.

On Saturday, August 4, my husband came into the house and said, "I found Sasha dead on the coop floor." So I wrote a nice eulogy for her on my Instagram account:
"The little black hen in this photo is Sasha. We name our chickens when they become distinctive to us - and Sasha is a survivor, our little hen with a big heart. A few years ago, Sasha was viciously attacked by the other hens because she had an injured leg. We found her in a corner of the coop just in time but it didn't look like she could survive her horrific head injury. We put her in a nest in a separate space to let her die peacefully.
But Sasha didn't die. Her head injury actually healed until she was well enough to be out and about. For a year, Sasha lived by herself in her special space, and was free to hobble around the yard on her wonky leg. It was amazing to watch her heal from two bad injuries, amazing to watch her determinedly cover the yard every day even as she struggled to walk. She eventually grew stronger and more able, and was able to rejoin the flock. Even though she retained just a hint of wonk in her leg, she lived out her life as a happy little chicken."

As he left the house on Saturday to go for coffee in town, Dwayne said, "I'm off to bury the dead." 

The next evening, Dwayne had a stroke. One minute he was fine, the next he couldn't speak and was losing the use of his right arm and leg. I called 9-1-1 and we ended up at the hospital getting excellent care. 
As soon as they knew he had a blood clot (not a bleed), they administered the blood thinner and by 11 o'clock that evening, he was regaining control of his arm and leg. 
Tuesday evening, he was transferred to the stroke unit at the Truro hospital; by Friday he was home. His speech isn't great, he's walking pretty slow, and he's on strict orders to take it easy and not exert himself for three weeks BUT he's expected to recover completely. 

The morning after he returned home, a week after Sasha's death, we were sitting on the back deck drinking coffee when Dwayne asked me a question. 
I was sure I knew what he'd said but his speech isn't  clear so I asked him to repeat it - because it was a question I didn't want to know the answer to.Basically, he asked, "Did I get rid of the hen?" 

For an entire week, I drove to and from Amherst, to and from Truro, and parked in hospital parking lots for hours, WITH A DEAD HEN IN THE BACK OF THE TRUCK.
Lying on a black truck bed liner in the hot summer sun.

If you parked next to me at the Truro hospital on Thursday, I am very, very sorry.

Even funnier: On my way to pick Dwayne up from the hospital in Truro, I stopped for gas. When I climbed out of the truck, there was a strong smell of dead mouse. I wondered what on earth could make the air smell like that? I noticed the smell again when I got out of the truck at the hospital and realized it must be associated with the truck but my mind was on other things and I forgot about it.
 Of course it didn't occur to me that I HAD A DEAD HEN IN THE BACK OF THE TRUCK.
And I still can't believe this is what Dwayne remembered a week after having a bad stroke and spending five days in the hospital.

(My friend Shelagh wondered after why the dead hen was in the back of the truck in the first place. We don't dig a hole and have a graveside service for our hens, and we don't just toss them in our own woods because we don't want the dog finding the corpses - dogs' noses being what they are -- so Dwayne disposes of them elsewhere. On his way for coffee. If he remembers.)

There was a part of me that wanted to bury Sasha in a hole and say a few words of thanks because it's hard not to wonder is she -- our little crippled hen with the head injury who survived to rejoin the flock -- was a kind of good luck charm for Dwayne.
Weird... but wondering. Just wondering...

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Notes From the Field

The wildflowers are gone from the field but in exchange, our friends are back.

We had a pair of geese hatch out four babies at our pond this spring. In June, the family disappeared - we supposed they headed for the river.
After the field was cut for the bales, the family returned, and this past week, another gaggle of geese joined them.

A groundhog ran across the entire width of the field earlier this week. Not sure what that was all about. I think it's the one that relocated from our backyard last month after the dog tried to "make friends" with it.

On my morning walk a couple of weeks ago, I watched a doe with THREE spotted fawns run through a field along my route, and two days ago, I saw a young buck, his velvety antlers just like tall twigs, wandering through the same field.
And I said what I always say to the wildlife I meet: "Stay off the road. Please stay off the road."