3 months ago, we received a email from a lady, regarding her special needs 2 month old Welsummer chick. When this chick hatched, the lady noticed something very wrong and different about her. She had a leg that was bent at the knee and stuck out to the right. This lady owned a large farm of egg laying chickens, and knew she couldn't keep it, for the fact that it would be pecked, trampled and killed by either the hens, or the predators. She asked around and finally found my blog, and emailed us. We were hesitant at first, because we didn't even know if this hen was a boy or girl, or if she'd live for another month, with a disability like that.
Yet, a week later, we were making the 2 hour drive to go get this little chick and bring her home. The only thing we knew was that she had a severely misplaced leg, a friendly attitude, and a big chance that we were bringing home a rooster and when it crowed, we would have to give it back to be killed.
We brought her home back in January, when she was only 2 months old. Her feathers were still fluff, like a baby chick. She was so friendly and willing to be held, and calm when we prodded and examined her little weird leg.
We researched on what to do, and soon set up a rest for her. It was pulled tightly across a box she came in, and a hole was cut in the middle for her legs to go through. This allowed her to rest her good leg on the ground and gain stability and balance.
Every time I walked into our living room where her little house was, she peeped and tweeted to be let out and held, or hop around and explore. She loved to sit on your lap and play with my coats zipper, or simply stare up at me and peep excitedly, hoping for a handout of treats.
Each day I would bring her out 3 - 5 times and let her hop around, and I would hold her up so she could gain balance. She teetered and tottered, and would hold her wings out to catch herself if she tipped over.
Pretty soon it was warm enough for her to go outside on sunny days, and she would hop around after the other disabled chickens in the attempt to catch up and snuggle into them. After being out for a while, she would retreat into a little igloo we set up for the disabled hens to warm up in, and stare out curiously at the autumn leaves whisking past the entrance, or peep to the other chickens and wait for a response.
After weeks and weeks of confidence gaining and stability and balance rising, she was quite the determined chick. She was 3 months old, had a splayed leg, and could still be alive and well. She could hop around a safe pen and not worry about predators. She could snuggle up to any of the other disabled hens and not worry about being pecked. She could eat as much as she wanted and drink whenever she felt like it, and never run out. And no matter how much she fell over, she always got back up.
Free ranging in the leaves while her chicken-momma worked the garden was her favorite activity. She would peck the leaves and eat little buds of grass starting to pop up, or lay in the pines and stare up at the birds fluttering above her. Whenever i got too far, she would tweet at me and if I didn't come back, she would hurriedly hop over to me and settle into a new nest. Tweetie is 4 months old now.
Tweetie is known for her funny faces, and when she doesn't understand something, this is the look I get.
Penny is her mother, her grandmother, her caregiver, her snuggler, her best friend and her big mound of fluff and feathers to hide under. These two are inseparable, and love each other. They eat together, snuggle together and walk around together. Whenever I take Penny away from tweetie, she'll get her feathers all flustered and peep and bawk loudly until I bring her back. Tweetie is 5 months old now.
Normally, on the cold and windy, rainy or snowy days she will hide out in the igloo and watch the action from her safe, warm little nesting spot. I am glad she can feel safe to do so, and when she feels she needs food or water, she is perfectly capable of coming out to get it herself.
If that lady had never found me, I don't know what would of become of Tweetie. Maybe she would of found a home just like me, or found a home where she would be pecked to death, or even a home where she went into a stew pot. Whatever it may be, I am so glad she found me... because Tweetie is the most beautiful, loving and friendly bird anyone could ever ask for. She may never lay eggs, she may never be able to run as fast or forage as much, she may never gain her normal weight or never be able to roost.... but to me, she is perfect. She is my Tweetie, my little one legged wonder. Tweetie is now 6 months old, a full aged hen.
And come on, who can't love that face?