Guinevere: Ups and Downs…and Ups

I woke at 4am feeling both dread and determination at the possibility that I’d need to gently guide a feeding tube down Guinevere’s throat to provide her with the nourishment she needs to heal.

A trip to the vet’s last night (Dr. Burkett, Rebecca, the vet tech, and Michael at the front desk all stayed long beyond closing time to help Guin and to advise us on her care; such caring people!) revealed that our little hen had lost an alarming amount of weight very quickly, so tube feeding seemed imperative.

Guinny had other ideas, and she ate! We’re hoping the universe is kind to us and this very sweet and fragile girl for the rest of the day.

She is resting now. Sleep deep and long, and get well, Guinevere. Know that you’re loved.

– Linda Nelson

Update on Guinevere

We at Triangle Chance for All want to extend our thanks to everyone who kept our beloved Guinevere in their thoughts today during her medical procedure. She is back home with our board members Linda Rapp Nelson and Alan Nelson, where she is being cared for with the most attentive love possible.

Unfortunately, Guinevere’s issues were more dire than we anticipated. Her leg swelling was due to severe inflammation. Dr. Burkett’s best guess is that it is from a snakebite she received prior to arriving at Triangle Chance for All. Along with that wound, however, was a severe impaction in her vent, likely due to neurological damage possibly sustained with the same injury to the leg. Dr. Burkett did his best to clean out the area, but the impaction was so extensive that only part of the material could be removed. And the neurological damage means that she will have trouble with incontinence long-term.

Added to that, although she has not laid an egg up to this point, if she were to start to lay now it would be life threatening. We are starting her on a supplement that will prevent egg production, as well as providing other care, such as anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and pain medications, that will give her the best chance at a good quality of life.

At Triangle Chance for All, we are committed to providing the highest quality of care to our residents, no matter what that entails. We rely on your support to make this happen. If you would like to contribute to Guinevere’s ongoing care, you can do so at http://trianglechanceforall.org/support-tca.

Thank you from all of us.

Love for Guinevere

I just finished my yoga practice. I dedicated it to our sweet, sweet Guinevere who is away at the vet’s tonight so as to be ready for a surgical procedure tomorrow. I found it impossible not to cry on my mat.

Alan and I went shopping yesterday. I had spent plenty of time with Guinevere in the morning, and I was eager to get some tempting foods for our very picky chicken at the store. We were gone for no longer than an hour and a half, but when I walked into Guinevere’s room, my heart dropped.

As usual, she ran towards me in her friendly, eager way, but I immediately saw that her leg was swollen, and red, and angry, and I felt so scared. I immediately called my much more knowledgable friend, Rosemary, to tell her what I was seeing. We both went to work trying to figure out what was wrong.

Guinevere was walking on her leg, eating robustly, and being her usual adorable and affectionate self though I could see that her leg was bothering her.

We set her up in a dog crate for the night with pillows, soft towels, food, and water after Rosemary had given her an oral anti-inflammatory, and I had held lovely Guin while Alan gently rubbed her leg with a topical pain reliever. I slept fitfully, waking often to worry about this precious, little hen. Why do they always get sick or hurt on the weekend or a holiday? Anyone who has ever had a sick loved one knows what it is to wait for Monday or morning, when the vet or the doctor can be called.

Justin and I took Guinevere into the vet’s for an afternoon appointment. Dr. Burkett diagnosed Guin with an abscess. He found a puncture wound and looked for another. He is assuming this was an injury from before Guinevere’s arrival at Triangle Chance for All. Apparently, abscesses can occur quite a bit after the initial trauma.

The doctor will sedate our girl, open her leg, drain and flush the infection out before suturing it and starting her on a course of antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory medication. He will send the drained material to the lab to figure out what one of so many different types of bacteria is causing her pain. It struck me as so sad that the antibiotics used to make chickens lay and chickens grow for greedy humans are just what makes it tricky to know just how to treat Guinevere.

Coming home from the vets without her was so hard. I wasn’t home for long before I thought I’d go up to Guinevere’s room to give her a snuggle. This is something I’ve been doing at least a dozen times a day for the last month. It is a lovely and comforting routine for both of us. And then I remembered that she isn’t here and sought comfort in my yoga practice.

Guinevere is such an important part of our Triangle Chance for All family, and we so hate that this gentle little chicken has had to go through so much in her short life. We just want her well. It isn’t lost on us that so many would say, “She is just a chicken,” but she is not “just” anything but pure love to us.

-Linda Nelson

One Day, One Year

one day eggs

This plate of 11 eggs represents one day’s worth of laying by our 13 rescued hens. These hens are all considered “backyard” breeds, not industrial layers, but they each typically lay one egg every 1-2 days.

This combined effort of 11 modern, domesticated hens on one DAY is nearly the equivalent of one YEAR’s worth of eggs for the their wild ancestor. Wild jungle fowl, from which our domesticated chickens have been bred, typically lay around 12-15 eggs per year, for the purposes of reproduction…not feeding another species.

Eggs are not a harmless food for humans, no matter how the chickens are treated. The hens bear the exploitation in their bodies, and will most likely die as a result of reproductive system complications.

Help end the exploitation today: Go vegan.

The Chicken in the Mirror

She never knew her mother. She hasn’t had a flock. She is afraid of other chickens, and isn’t always certain of our good intentions, but we’re trying hard to ease Nutmeg into her new life at Triangle Chance for All. So much has been taken from her and all other rescued animals in our care that providing a high quality of life is our highest priority, and we must recognize and accommodate the individual needs and desires of each.

Nutmeg is spending her quarantine time at the home of board members, Alan Nelson and Linda Rapp Nelson where they are pulling out all the stops to put her at ease.

Alan remembered how much his family’s parakeets had enjoyed access to a mirror. Though they were never caged against their will, they had access to a cage full of toys and mirrors, and they would often spend hours singing, talking, and feeding their friend in the mirror. It was worth a try to see if this would be a source of comfort and enrichment for Nutmeg.

She likes who she sees! When she first saw her face, she just stared, but before too long, she began to softly vocalize. She looked over the top, and on either side to find the new chicken. Though she had been picked on by more dominant Coriander and Beatrice, this hen is as gentle as Nutmeg! She settled down, and accepted stroking with more ease than before.

It can’t make up for all she has lost, but it might prove helpful to Nutmeg in creating a new and happy life as an honored member of our TCA family.

Every Death Is a Tragedy

Humans have a hard time comprehending massive quantities. Our predominant evolutionary experience has left us good at small, easily graspable numbers, distances, amounts, volumes. We humans are just NOT good at scaling up.

Joseph Stalin was speaking a biological truism, then, when he said, “One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.” (Granted, he was a mass murderer and so could speak from experience…but still.)

It is even harder for us big-brained humans to handle both massive scales and species boundaries. However hard to really feel it sometimes, we can generally recognize the horror of a million human deaths. But ten billion annual deaths of chickens, turkeys, cows, pigs, sheep, and other non-human land animals is, according to legal protocols, “standard industry practice.” (To account for sea animals, you have to multiply that number by about five to ten…)

Statistics, when it comes to animals raised and slaughtered for food in the United States, can never shake the trail of blood that extends behind them for hundreds, indeed thousands of years. While the Industrial Revolution has as one of its children modern industrial (“factory”) farming, the beginning of this tragic tale lies further back, at the dawn of agriculture—indeed in the first clumsy moments in which humans realized their ability to influence other creatures.

Much of the United States is still agricultural land. The number of farmers has plunged precipitously, but the amount of land and number of animals “under production” are still vast. Vast beyond human comprehension.

Despite the big numbers, the awfulness of statistics is a matter of flesh and blood—an inescapable onslaught of pain, suffering, and thoughtlessness. The statistics become terrible every single day, whether we are standing in the midst of a slaughterhouse, or walking down a grocery store aisle, or watching a fast-food commercial on television.

They become terrible by becoming individuated. By becoming personal.

Business as usual relies on hatcheries, farms, feedlots, battery cages, calf hutches, gestation crates, transport trucks, processing plants, and distribution networks, all before the stolen, hacked up, and packaged parts and pieces of living beings are placed on the grocery store shelves or set out on a farmers market table. Each stage on the assembly line involves statistics, be they pounds of flesh or dollars and cents.

But each and every one of these points of production and consumption is also a tragedy.

The reason—and this is what Stalin was never able to grasp—is that those million deaths in a statistic are made up of individuals. There is no other way.

Those individual beings each had a personality, with individual thoughts, feelings, experiences, desires, instincts, and hardships. No matter how many living beings are packed into the cages, the trucks, or the machinery, their individuality is never eradicated. Not by humans’ mad, insatiable hunger for flesh, nor by humans’ transference of the act of slaughter to a small minority, nor by humans’ mechanization of the process of birth, growth, and death.

These one million deaths, ten billion deaths, or one death are all needless tragedies, for they are the forced deaths of individuals for our consumption. Whether on an assembly line or on the family farm next door, the deaths are needless and selfish.

Statistics can never change that fact.

When we face down those statistics, it is both unfathomable and unconscionable to respond in any other way than to stop eating and using and abusing non-human animals.

There is no other ethical or defensible response than to go vegan, and to advocate for the end of exploitation, consumption, and commodification of every single individual creature.

There is nowhere to hide from this fact, no matter how great the statistics.

– Justin Van Kleeck


(Top image credit: ben via Wikimedia Commons.)

Thanks, Nestor, and Farewell


Today we are traveling with Nestor, the blind baby goat whom we rescued from a small goat dairy farm, to his new forever home at Full Circle Farm Sanctuary.

We at Triangle Chance for All want to share our thanks with Nestor for helping us, and so many people, realize the power that one individual can have when given the chance. Nestor has become such a strong, outgoing, lively little guy, and he has such an amazing future ahead of him. It is remarkable to think how much he has changed in the last month that we have been fostering him; it is sad to think that he almost did not have the chance to do so, and that so many other individual farmed animals never will.

Thank you also to the many, many people who have followed and supported Nestor over the past few weeks. Your support made it possible for us to provide care, from day to day and in the medical emergency he faced.

The billions of farmed animals killed and exploited every year for human ends are all individuals, each as unique as our beloved blind baby goat. Nestor has helped bring that point home so clearly, and we wish that he might be an ambassador for the animals, bringing one revolutionary message: “Please go vegan.”

From all of us at TCA, thank you.