Just One Friend

Saturday Blanche did not seem like herself. She was sluggish, less active, more solitary. She was not displaying enough of the symptoms I’ve read about for various chicken health problems to be able to identify anything specifically. If she wasn’t just a little over a year and a half old, I would say it was just old age, sort of like with me on some days.

Sunday morning, she struggled to come down the chicken ladder. In the evening, she couldn’t make her way back up. So I held her for a while, but not so long as to make her uncomfortable since she never has been one to need much human contact, just food. Then I placed her inside the coop. She made it up onto the crate that is a kind of “step-up” to the top of the nesting box where she and Pearl sleep. But that was as far as she got.

Maybe she just wasn’t able. Maybe she just wanted some solitude without Pearl to get her strength back. It was difficult to know.

Monday she came down by herself, had more of an appetite, went up by herself, and even got up onto their regular sleeping spot. Pearl was noticeably relieved.

Tuesday she was much the same, but she didn’t make it up on top of the nesting box for the night. It may have been Blanche and Pearl were waiting for me to get home, but their good light was gone by the time they had given up. (Lately I’ve been able to make it back while there was still some daylight, and they get bedtime treats.)

Pearl has been…I’m really not sure if there is a word to fit how Pearl has been. She just knows Blanche has not been feeling well. Blanche has never shown any helplessness through this, but Pearl certainly has.

Pearl has been like a worried little chick all over again.

Pearl has tried to entertain Blanche and get her attention off of her condition much like we would try to cheer up a sad or sick friend. It only seems right she would do those things as they are best friends.

The most telling thing of all comes in the mornings. Pearl will let Blanche have first choice of the items in their breakfast salad and mealworms. Pearl will stand back while Blanche picks through and eats her favorites and seems satisfied. Then and only then will Pearl have anything to eat.

At times, Pearl will look at Blanche and then at me, wanting me to make Blanche better.

I know how helpless Pearl feels because I feel the same. I just can’t show it because I don’t want to cause any greater alarm. Surely Pearl has been thinking, “Why don’t you do something?” (But haven’t we all thought the same at least once when difficulties come our way and when we must face circumstances which are beyond our ability to fix?)

Blanche will stand facing into the corner of the run with her side to the sun. Maybe the warmth helps her, and the corner gives her some privacy and a feeling of protection. Maybe she feels like she can concentrate on getting better like that, even though it makes Pearl more worried.

In the evenings I can tell how Blanche’s day had been by how Pearl coos, either happily or sadly.

Blanche has not fully recovered, and we have more cold weather headed our way which may make things only worse for her.

Blanche has her physical distress. Pearl has her emotional distress. I’m unsure which is worse, but knowing Pearl as I do, I have a feeling this is weighing heavily on her. She will be lost without Blanche, her best friend.

To be honest, it is not always easy to believe a couple of chickens matter, particularly when I look up into the deep and awesome enormity of the night sky…or at the suffering of my neighbors around the world. Yet Blanche and Pearl and the others do matter, and so we say our evening prayers. We are grateful for each day, for lovingkindness, and for friendship.

My Life With Gracie helped me understand the power of just one friend.

This post has been delayed because of Blanche’s condition. I didn’t want to post until I felt she was recovering or at least stable. Usually I share more pleasant and happy stories, and somethimes extremely imaginative stories. This one is none of those things, but sometimes life just goes that way.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

35 thoughts on “Just One Friend

    1. Thanks, Jordy. Yes, God is in small things too. We started saying prayers in the evening when they were just little chicks and had moved outside permanently. At first, I think it was something more for me to feel better about their safety at night. But it’s something that I look forward to each evening, and I think they do too. Blanche had more energy this evening and she made it up to the top if the nesting box beside Pearl. They are happy and I have a feeling they will both sleep really well tonight. Thanks again for commenting and caring! John

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Chickens matter. Every creature matters. And even if Blanche’s condition does not improve, I, for one, would like to know. It is the circle of life for all sentient beings. Blessings to you and your feathered family.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you so much! I had no idea how much chickens can truly care about each other until I saw Pearl’s concern and kindness in watching over Blanche. When I got home from work, Blanche had more energy this evening, and she made it up to the top if the nesting box beside Pearl. I think they will both have a really good night’s sleep. Pearl appeared to be especially relieved. This may not be completely behind us yet, but I thank you for caring. I do believe you blessings helped. I truly do. Thanks again! John

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love all animals and hope Blanche fully recovers. You and Pearl and all of us are sending loving healing energy to this little girl. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with Jordy’s sentiment. I’m probably putting my dog Yoshi down tomorrow. It won’t be easy, but he knows I love him. God works through our pets to show us what unconditional love is and what real trust in someone looks like. I love Yoshi and accept that ir’s his time. I’m grateful for his love and friendship.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Will. I’m sorry about Yoshi, but it sounds as it it may be best and the loving thing to do. It’s never easy. I only ever had one dog, and he was the best companion I ever had. You are quite right about how God works through pets, and I think they help us be better people towards each other. (It’s easy to spot dog lovers! And not just by the hair on their clothes!) Blanche had more energy this evening when I got home, and she made it up to the top if the nesting box beside Pearl. This may not be all past us, but for now we are simply grateful for the moment. I will be praying for you and Yoshi and your family. Thanks again, Will. I know Yoshi is so appreciative to have you as his friend.


    1. Thanks, Ruth. When I got home this evening, Blanche had more energy and she and Pearl greeted me together, and that felt good. They both had extra treats…actually all six had extra treats to celebrate. Best of all, Blanche made it up to the top if the nesting box beside Pearl. They should both sleep well tonight. I’m unsure what tomorrow holds, but we are appreciating this time now. Thank you again! John

      Gracie, Emily, and Amelia all laid eggs today!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Janet. I do believe your prayers helped. Blanche had more energy this evening and she made it up to the top if the nesting box beside Pearl after they all had extra treats to celebrate. We may not be “out of the woods” yet, but we are appreciating where we are now. Thank you again so much! John

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Janet! Blanche is doing okay. She is showing small improvements from day to day. Friday night I held her for the longest time and helped her get up into the coop. Yesterday, she and Pearl spent most of the day sitting peacefully side by side in some soft new straw, just watching the world go by. She made it up into the coop for the night all by herself. I feel like she will make it through whatever this is. Thank you again for caring about Blanche…and about me too!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s good news John, and yes I care about you all. Feeling like a part of the family now. 🙂 It sounds like she just needs that little extra TLC. Continued prayers for you all.


  3. I think you have also described the power of empathy. Your life with Blanche has shown the value of life, of suffering with, and of human emotion. There’s the story of the farmer whose tractor was buried in mud in a field. His pastor came out while the farmer was on the tractor. The farmer said, “You can’t help me get unstuck.” The pastor said, “I know. I came to sit here in the mud with you.” You sat in the mud with Blanche and cared for her when there was nothing else you could do. God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Martha. What a great story! I appreciate your sharing it with me. It’s kind of a reminder of how Jesus is willing to “get muddy” and travel difficult journeys with us and make us stronger in the end. Thanks again for sharing and for praying that God will continue to bless us no matter where this journey takes us. John.


  4. I understand how it is to have a sick chicken, and also how chickens can be best friends. Last summer I dealt with the illness of my favorite younger hen, Sunshine (her bio is in my blog). She stopped eating for some reason. The only way I could get her to eat was to fence a section of the yard off and put her in there with Buffy, who suddenly decided to take a special interest in her. From the first time I put the two together, Buffy would not leave her side. She looked out for Sunshine and protected her from the others who bullied her a little because I had to keep her isolated in the basement for a while until a vet could see her and determine she did not have anything contagious. Chickens have a way of stealing your heart. They have such definite personalities which many people do not realize. They act more like people than a lot of other animals we keep as pets. Sadly, Sunshine’s illness mystified even the vet. She never isolated herself or fluffed her feathers. Her comb stayed bright red, never pale. But she did not recover, and just wasted away despite our best efforts. I never found out what was the matter. I sure hope Blanche recovers fully and is perfecly well by now. Keep us updated! Love your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Susan. I have to say (as you shared) chickens are amazingly loyal to their friends and flockmates. I had no idea before I had my own backyard chickens. I’m sorry about Sunshine. It’s interesting that her comb gave no sign of illness because I had heard that was an indicator of their overall health. (Blanche’s comb is still bright red.) Will be posting again soon! Blanche had a very good day today. She seemed much more like herself though she still has a ways to go. Thanks again!


  5. Is she laying? Sometimes internal laying issues can be intermittent. I hope that isn’t what’s wrong as the prognosis is not generally terrific. Hope there was just something a little off in the breakfast salad that day. (My hens are now asking why they are never served breakfast salad with meal worms)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing from your experience. She had been laying for a while, then stopped, but she didn’t have any of the signs of being egg-bound as far as the way she was standing and moving. She was much better and more active today. When I brought them their afternoon treat, she raised her head up and looked directly at me eager to eat and enjoy. This was definitely much more like her. Before she wouldn’t raise her head or seem very interested at all, so I think she is definitely improving. Speaking of mealworms, which she loves, when I sprinkle them down near her, she will go for other things close by like leftover breakfast veggies..almost as if she can’t see the mealworms. Anyway, it’s been a tough week for both of us! Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Keep me posted. I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have a friend from backyard chickens giving me support every day. I will be here for you. I sure hope your chicken recovers. If she still seems off please consider getting her to a vet right away. Praying for you and dear Blanche.

        Liked by 1 person

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