One weekend, Dave and I decided to visit a local farm to look for a new flock member. Entering the poultry area, I was horrified and shocked. Hundreds of ill chickens were crammed in a noisy, stinking crowd, coughing, limping, bleeding from naked, raw, bare torn skin on their backs and butts, cannibalized by their brethren. Cockfights broke out, hens were forced, weaker birds struggled to snatch feed and water, and everywhere were suffering birds trying to hide from aggressors. A red Golden Comet hen lay dead in a nestbox, unnoticed. I'd been in rough barnyard situations before, but I was paralyzed with horror for these helpless birds.. Vaguely, I remember Dave's voice through my haze, calling out: "Look a Speckled Sussex!" He indicated a tiny, cowering hen, filthy and bedraggled, so ill she looked like no hen I'd ever seen. Except that every hen and rooster in the crammed, stinking enclosure were just as ill as the tiny brown hen trying to dissolve into the dust. The fear, frenzy, and suffering were too much. Overwhelmed, unable to think, I just shut down. I left the tiny, crouching hen behind. I failed her. I felt terribly guilty about it, wishing I had been stronger. In the following days Christmas approached, but I had the tiny brown hen on my mind and heart. It would be a week until I would have another chance to get out to the farm. I looked up everything about her breed. I dreamed about her. I just had to help her. On December 23rd the next weekend, we returned to the farm. It was eerily quiet in the poultry pen. Where had all those ill birds gone? After searching, we saw the tattered little Speckled Sussex hen making her way across the dusty, deserted pen, getting a few sips of water. Dave netted the bedraggled waif, but she oddly easy to catch. We soon found out why. As I cradled her, and she nestled weakly into my arms. So warm, so silky soft, so sweet. We boxed her for the ride home. Dave told me that her blood was on my coat. "Mildred" had been so badly cannibalized, that her bare naked rump bled freely. She was seriously anemic. Her skin, comb, and wattles were all a very pale color. At home, we separated her from our flock, but she could hardly stand. We filled food bowls with healthy foods, and water dishes were set close to her in the safety of the garden. The day grew bitterly colder. Dark, lowering clouds threatened snow. Looking out into the garden that afternoon, it was apparent that the blood loss had made her too weak to stand, drink or eat, or even hold up her head. The tattered hen lay limply in the leaf litter, her head sunk down against the unrelenting chill. We had to do something. And, winter storm clouds were rolling in as the day turned frigid. (She's laying down behind the trellis) We brought Mildred indoors from bitter cold to a warm "Chicken Hospital" we'd set up in my German Shepherd Grimm's Vari-Kennel crate. It was thickly lined with newspapers, and had tiny cat dishes of layer feed pellets and water. The warmth would help her, we hoped, but she couldn't even stand, nor hold her head up. Things seemed bleak, as we then noticed she didn't even have the strength to eat or drink. So, we went to PetCo, and got some baby parrot food and a syringe. Dave gently, respectfully syringe-fed her the warmed babybird-mush while she laid limply on his lap. Fluids and nutrition to help build her strength and blood back up. As we syringe-fed her, we saw that Mildred's mucous membranes were very pale from blood loss. We worried. For her wheezy/rattly respiratory infection, we put some BirdBiotic Doxycycline into her water that we keep on hand for my German Shepherd Grimm's tick illness. She also had a hugely infected foot, so we massaged in ichthamol ointment, a tar-like black drawing salve. Here's Mildred getting her salve foot massage and Reiki treatment, done twice per day... Her soft, weak warbles of distress and fear at this alien situation, her trembling jaw, warm silky softness... That night, we put her limp body back in the crate, turned out the lights, and tried to watch TV, knowing that we had done all we could for her with the syringe feeding and other care. We didn't know if she'd be alive in the morning. Everything seemed terribly quiet. We'd have to wait and see. But then, in the darkness as we watched TV, we heard a rattling in her food bowl... YES!! Mildred wanted to live. Even two or three pellets was a good sign. And then she tried to roost for the night on the rim of her waterbowl, where she took a sip.. Eating and drinking on her own was HUGE! The next day, it snowed. We went to PetCo, and got Millie a super-motivating, life-giving snack.... superworms! They're the size and diameter of your pinkie finger. Most. Disgusting. Snack. EVAAAR! At first, Mildred was too weak, and dropped the worms. Then she snagged one, and it gave her strength. Watching the worms wriggle stimulated something in her. Soon she was SNATCHING up the superworms! They provided vital energy to a hen so weak, she'd been unable to hold her own head up. She soon grew able to stand in her crate... and gobble the worms in the bowl.. "Come back wiff dose soopah-wuumz!" As I was holding her for salve foot treatments, Reiki treatments, and care, Mildred began to stop her distress squeaking-- and started singing to me. Sweet, soft, drawn-out social singing. She became our "Sweet Millie Bawk-Bawk." And, I fell in love. When Millie was walking, eating, and drinking on her own, it was time to gently re-introduce her to being outside, and eventually, to our tiny rescue flock. We did this carefully. During this time, Christmas came, and family gathered... And Millie adjusted to the normal flock hazing given to newcomers. She gained strength as she moved about in the safe, peaceful garden enclosure. Soft earth beneath her healing feet, and peaceful friends welcomed her. "Iz diss bread?" (note that she has no butt feathers yet, they'll grow back) We had kept the other chickens away while her naked butt was still bleeding, but now things were scabbed over enough for her to be with the small, peaceful group of friends. "Diss is my new best friend Mable! And da ginger girl iz head-honcho hen, Prudence!" "Dey sez we gonna "free range" outside da gardin to have Chikken Adventures. Wassat mean?" Soon, we let Millie out of the fenced garden into the big, wide world with her new friends to enjoy the huge yard with woods and sunny meadow. She was AMAZED at the very concept of freedom! She'd never known that you could see the world beyond chickenwire and actually walk to whatever you see. She would look at a bush.. then walk to it! Look at a tree... then walk to it! The freedom concept enthralled her, and she kept ranging and leading the group on adventures. "Oh my goodness, I outside da fence?! In da great, beeg WERLD??" "I'z gonna watch ovur yoo, chickie-friend!" says Grimm... "Fanks Grimmi, for lettin' me use yor crate when I wuz in hospital!" "I protekt yoo too, Millie! Purrrr, purrrrr!" assures Smokey... "Alfie, can all of diss be true? Freedom, safety, friends, chikken adventures, love, and wriggly suupah wuumz?" "Diss iz what "rescue" means?" "I fink I da luckiest chikkie in da werld!" "Okay-- I'z off for more Chikken Adventurez!" "But not befor I TELLZ yoo nice forum peeplz, up close n personal, 'Fank yoo for lookin', an' for cheerin' Sweet Millie Bawk-Bawk on!'" Thanks for looking!