Monday, March 12, 2012

Shoot, Man

©2012 by LeeZard

Whooda thunk it?? LeeZard at a shooting range - SHOOTING at the shooting range. But, there I was, with a Remington Model-11 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun tight to my shoulder, chin resting against the polished wood stock.

After an entire life of pro-gun control (which hasn't changed; it's now more enlightened), not only was I shooting, I was enjoying it.

It's the damned coyote's fault; I want to kill the bastard. He got Maggie. Poor Maggie. Maggie was my first chicken love.

Oh yeah, whooda thunk it? LeeZard is also a chicken farmer. Well, sort of. Actually, they are Wende's chickens and for months I watched her with mild interest as she cared for them from chickhood. No, she did more than care for them; she nurtured them, talked to them, laughed at their antics and, when necessary, brought them back from the brink of death. That was the case with Maggie.
This is NOT Maggie but, she looked like this

One day we noticed Maggie's belly was on the ground and her two legs were splayed to either side. Didn't look good, didn't look healthy. She couldn't/wouldn't move. The next morning she was in the same position. Wende decided to bring her in the house to see what she could do.

Wende set her up in a cage in our laundry room and set to work. She put fresh straw in the bottom of the cage and two small dishes with food and water. And, she hit the computer to do some research. After a day or so, Wende was still coming up zero in the research and poor Maggie continued to lay motionless in the cage.

"I don't know what to do," said Wende. "If I can't find out what's wrong, I'll have to 
put her down. If I put her outside with the other hens, they'll sense her weakness and kill her."

Now, she's telling this to a boy from New York City. LeeZard's only experience with chicken is baked, barbecued or broiled. But, I did notice one thing. "She hasn't lost her appetite," I pointed out. "I don't know much about raising chickens," I continued, "but I do know enough about animals in general and, if they are still eating then they are still healthy on the inside. This girl isn't ready to die!"

That was enough for Wende. She returned to the computer with even more determination. In the meantime, Maggie didn't move but she kept on eating and now, it was personal. I was Maggie's chief advocate and cheerleader.

Finally, Wende hit pay dirt. "It's something called "Hot Foot," she exclaimed excitedly but the prognosis was iffy at best. Hot Foot is also called Straddle Legs and, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service:

"Slippery Brooding Surfaces - Newspaper, wood, and other slippery surfaces cause excessive leg problems for all young fowl, especially waterfowl, game birds and feathered-legged fowl. Provide a soft absorbent litter that gives the birds good footing and traction.The biggest problem with slippery surfaces is straddled legs. Once the fowl gets to this point, the problem is nearly impossible to correct." 

This IS Maggie, back on her feet. Yay Maggie!
Prognosis be damned; now, Wende was now on a mission and that is a force of nature. So, after a little more research, Maggie was on a special diet including who knows what and a steady regimen of antibiotics. 

We also threw in a healthy dose of TLC; Maggie found herself becoming a lap chicken. Wende, 12-year old Sarah and I took turns taking her from the cage, wrapping her in a blanket, gently holding her and, yes, I admit it, talking to her with words of love and encouragement. 

After a few days, Maggie started to move around a bit in her cage. Little by little she got stronger until, one miraculous day, she was shakily up on her feet. Soon, we blocked the door to the laundry room and let her run - well, walk - around freely until, finally (and reluctantly) we deemed her ready to return to her sisters outside.

Unfortunately, the "girls" still sensed maggie's weakness and would not accept her back in the brood. Rather than turn her into a pet - even though there was some sentiment in that direction - Wende put her in a separate pen outside with the hope she would return to full strength. She never got the chance.

Early one morning we heard a ruckus outside and ran to look out the back window where the chickens were. All we saw outside of Maggie's pen were feathers. Our next door neighbor soon came over and said she a saw the coyote scampering across her backyard with poor Maggie in its mouth. That was the moment LeeZard "reached" for the gun.

Wende did not share my views - or qualms - about firearms. she grew up with 'em in her home. In fact, I was well aware of the shotgun and the pistol kept safely hidden in her closet. Without hesitation, I turned to her at that moment and said, "I want to go to the firing range and learn how to shoot. If that fucker comes back, he's either going on the wall or becoming a hat."

One week later I was on the shooting range with Wende's brother Phil who's an expert on firearms. After some orientation and an in-depth lesson, we did some trapshooting. I bought 25 rounds of shot.  All I really wanted from the experience was a knowledge of how to safely load and shoot but, to my shock and delight, I actually nicked (notice I didn't say hit) one of the clay pigeons.

Now, I am ready. C'mon coyote, make my day.


I mentioned above that that my views on gun control are now "enlightened." I can accept that we do, indeed, have the right to bear arms and doing so for sport or the protection of self and/or property is just fine. But, I will never join the National Rifle Association nor will I ever advocate their rigid position of all arms for all people. Who the hell needs assault weapons, AK-47s or other high-powered military ballistics for sport or protection? Leezard still believes there must be limits and controls. They need to be uniform across the country. 

I don't have the answers but somehow, some way, we must disarm the crazies and the criminals.