Later while lying paralyzed on the chicken run floor, Eleanore wondered whether it was the barely recognizable half of orange that gave her the botulism, or the aged broccoli remnants. "No matter," she thought, "whatever it was, it accomplished its job very well. Not a muscle would obey her command. Limp as a, well . . . as a dead chicken, Eleanore lay on the gritty run floor, waiting for the nasty bacteria to finish her off.
What Eleanore didn't count on was Food Lady coming out to check for eggs early Saturday morning. Food Lady usually came out later in the morning, today however, she was up early to attend the Farmers Market. Crossing the lawn from the house to the coop, Food Lady took one look at Eleanore, let out a small shriek, opened the run and grabbed her up with no regard for her freshly washed clothes. Not knowing where she was going to put her, Food Lady brought her into the food barn. The food barn, being the dark and quiet place that it was, seemed a much better place to Eleanore than the run floor. Being trampled and pecked by high and mighty snobbish chickens was no way to "fly the coop". Food lady laid Eleanore in a largish cage, with fresh clean bedding. Being paralyzed as she was, Eleanore decided not to even try and protest. She just looked up at Food Lady with the only outwardly working part she had, her eye. Food lady was horrified. Never had she seen such a sick chicken, and she hardly knew what to do! Google, being the wanna-be farm girl's best friend, quickly told Food Lady that it was botulism that she was dealing with. It also told her that dear Eleanore was already a dead duck. Not prone to believing everything she reads, Food Lady rifled through her cupboards and brought out some highly digestible fish protein capsules, some strong pro-biotics, some vitamin E capsules, and some trace mineral drops. She then cracked a fresh egg, and mixed the yolk with the other ingredients and added a splash of Glacier Ice Gatorade to thin it down. Armed with the concoction and an eye dropper, she set out for the Food Barn, whispering prayers all the way.
Upon her return, Eleanore could see that Food Lady's faith had wavered. She noticed that Food Lady continually looked toward the axe that leaned against the wall. Her eye being all she could command, Eleanore looked up pleadingly at Food Lady. It must have done the trick, for once again Food Lady seemed in command of herself, and got to the business of being a chicken doctor.
Poor Food Lady, her heart broke to bits as she held the limp neck of Eleanore. She noticed that Eleanore's comb was blood red and that she burned with fever. Squeezing the bulb of the dropper, Food Lady filled it up with the fishy yellow concoction and filled dear Eleanore's crop. After each dropper full, Food Lady would hold up Eleanore's noodle neck and let it drain down to what was hopefully the proper area. After gently laying the dying Eleanore's head down and encouraging her with soft soothing get well words, Food Lady closed the barn door and whispered another prayer as she went in for the night.
Food Lady woke with the sun the next morning, and still clothed in her jammies, she sprinted to the barn. Slowly she opened the door, fully expecting to find a dead hen. Eleanore jumped in fright at the intrusion, only her jump was a barely noticeable wiggle of her head. Food Lady took the wiggle with great hope and ran inside to make another batch of Chicken-Get-Well-Goo. Even at this hopeful stage however, Eleanore noticed Food Lady eyeing the axe. What she didn't know was that Food Lady felt awful for keeping Eleanore alive in such an awful state.
Every two hours Food Lady mixed and stirred, squeezed and droppered. By nightfall, dear Eleanore had regained enough of her faculties to protest with a squawk and a slight wave of the feathers. By Sunday evening, Food Lady required assistance in getting the goo down the not so floppy neck of Eleanore.
Monday morning found Food Lady jumping for joy as she peered inside the barn. Eleanore stood on her own, preening her feathers. It seemed to Food Lady that Eleanore was saying "I am a mess, please do not let anyone see me this way. Food Lady remembered being very ill once herself, and recalled that when the time came that she could worry about how awful looking the ordeal had left her, she was well on her way to being mended.
After one more day in convalescence, Eleanore returned to chicken society, missing only a few feathers from the botulism incident. In the heat of the day, all of the hens gather under the plum tree and listen to Eleanore tell her harrowing tale. Food Lady cannot help but smile as she sees Eleanore standing tall upon the tree stump inside the run, just a few short feet from where she came upon her limp body days before. God, is good.