Modern magic

I love living at a time, and in a place, where I just have to point my finger and KAZAM! – magic happens. Take this evening, for example. In fact, take just the last 15 minutes.

First, by way of context, a word picture. I am sitting at the dinner table, refusing to make eye contact with a deeply apologetic (if you’ll believe one wag of it, which I frankly don’t) small shithead mongrel. In the mudroom is a punctured hen, trembling and panting in a crate. I have cleaned her up and wrapped her in a warm towel, and she’s resting on a cushion of fresh hay. I think she will probably be dead by morning, and I’m very much inclined to insist that Himself put her out of her misery. Himself is very much inclined to “see if she makes it”. I lack the moral or intestinal fortitude to haul out an ax and Do The Deed myself. As the designated Mother Earth figure around here (you learn to make do with what you have, and I’m the only member of the household with both opposing thumbs and mammaries), it falls to me to ensure that any “making it” is achieved as effectively and with as little suffering as possible. “Fuck it,” I say in motherly tones, directing another unloving glare at the mongrel.

CeCe the shithead mongrel chicken-chomper thinks that if she doesn’t look at me I can’t see her, and therefore I won’t be mad. She’s our current foster dog, and I’m thinking her forever family better not have chickens…
At that moment my glance falls upon my magic wand phone, and suddenly I know what I need to do. I point my finger and KAZAM! – there’s Google.

Right, yes, I know, most people would have thought of Google immediately – but I grew up in a different era, okay? I remember the day my parents bought a brand new, hot-off-the-press, late 60s edition set of Encyclopedia Britannica, from an actual human salesman who came to our home. They and he and 11-year-old I sat around the dinner table my great-uncle made (the very table that I now sit at, clear on the other side of the planet), and the salesman covered the table with brightly colored glossy brochures. They were full of snippets of information and they had an amazing shiny-glossy-paper smell, and I was only vaguely aware of the salesman periodically inviting my parents to notice how much their brilliant firstborn was enjoying the opportunity to LEARN. Then he went outside to his car, and came back in with a big box and a free bookcase. And inside that box, good friends, was all the knowledge in the world.

I loved those encyclopedias and spent hours browsing through them during the ensuing years, and I can tell you with no shadow of doubt that nowhere in the lengthy, comprehensive, very-small-print index was there a category for “how to treat an injured chicken”.

I started out to tell you about a 15 minute snippet of my day, and I seem somehow to have wandered more than 40 years off course. Let me get back to the point.

Via my phone, Google told me I could give the hen aspirin – five regular aspirins in a gallon of water. It told me how many milligrams of aspirin were in a regular aspirin (325). It told me how many ounces of water were in a gallon (128). My phone helped me calculate how much water I needed for one baby aspirin (about a cup). Then Google told me I could give the chicken sugar for shock, and how much (3 Tbsp per gallon of water), and also that I should flush out the wounds with hydrogen peroxide and cover them with Neosporin, and that I should continue to do this for several days, and that there was every chance she would survive. Google even provided numerous anecdotes from people whose chickens had survived an astonishing array of injuries, and it comforted me greatly to know that there are real live people out there who will put a splint on a chicken with a broken leg instead of … well, say for example, eating it.

I did everything Google and my phone told me to do, and tucked the hen back into bed, using the same phone to record the occasion. KAZAM! (Seriously, guys – pictures. Taken with a phone that fits inside my pocket. And the pictures – which are in full color – are already available to be shared … with you … wherever you live, anywhere in the world. Do you know how amazing this is? Or is the amazement limited to people whose first camera was a Box Brownie?)

Hurt hen
You can’t see it here, but she’s been well-basted with antibiotic ointment, as well as generously dosed with aspirin in sugar water.
Hurt hen
Tucked up for the night. I still don’t really expect her still to be with us tomorrow … but we’ll see. I’ve done the best I can. (Feel free to chip in here with advice, Mother Hen…)
Argos would SO love to get inside the mudroom… and finish what CeCe started…

So is it just me, or are you also sometimes sideswiped with amazement at this brave new world we live in?

Author: Belladonna Took

Well into my second half-century and still trying to figure out what to be when I grow up. Born South African, naturalized American, perpetually at risk of losing my balance and landing ass-first in the Atlantic.

33 thoughts on “Modern magic”

  1. I have it on good authority that my father once bodily threw an encyclopedia-salesman out the door after said salesman entered our house under false pretences (at that point my father did not yet know that I would have a voracious appetite for reading and for knowledge, else he might have reconsidered).

    If I was already born, I was too young to recall this incident, but as a result I grew up without any encyclopedias in the house and also find Google one of the wonders of the digital world. In fact, my search history would probably raise some troubling questions should any of the world’s intelligence agencies ever care to look into it (though I can say with great certainty I’ve never Googled injured chickens).


    1. Ah yes, door-to-door salesmen … do they even exist any more? One of my first jobs, as a teenager, was selling TV sets door-to-door. Can you believe in a time when a teenage girl could be dropped off, alone, at night, in a suburban neighborhood, and told to knock on people’s doors and persuade them to sign an order for a TV set? Yikes, I feel another blog post coming on!

      Thanks, as always, for stopping by, Hermann!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, geez… We also had those encyclopaedias – and the free bookcase… Don’t know if it was a salesman that preceded their arrival by post, and for subsequent years, the yearbook…. And as for Google, it’s my go-to place more and more.

    I’d have faced the same dilemma, but Husband, being a retired stock farmer, would have had to do the butch thing, if he thought she was irreparable (he’s actually a toasted marshmallow!). He’d also have berated foster dog while clucking that you can’t expect a Jack Russel not to be true to his nature…

    How is chook?


    1. Hey, Fiona – thanks for stopping by. She didn’t make it… 😦 And your husband would be right,. We’re not sure of the Little Shit’s antecedents, but some Jack Russell looks likely, along with a large dollop of Dachshund. The maddening thing is, she used to love just hanging out with the chickens. She would go and putter around in their run. Then a week or so ago Himself’s lab was outside the run while she was inside, and he got all in a froth charging up and down, yelling at her to “Chase one! Chase that other one!” So then she learned what they were really for… 😦


  3. I’m convinced that it’s all magic. I keep thinking these days about how different the world my nine-year-old son knows is from the world I knew when I was nine, when a phone was a thing attached to the wall. And the only magic it did (which was pretty magical, when you think about it) was let you talk to friends and family.


    1. And do you remember sitting for HOURS in the most accessible Private Corner, with a long twisty umbilicus connecting your ear to that box on the wall, until a parent (in my case it was my father) insisted that you couldn’t possibly have anything to say that wouldn’t wait until you were back in the classroom with the friend you were talking to?


      1. Ha… and DOUBLE ‘Ha’… I can remember when my daughter (now aged 45+) would never talk on the telephone except ‘in-private’. It was a wall-phone in the kitchen with a long, twisty cord – so she’d run the cord out thru the dining-room, thru the sliding glass door onto the outside deck and have her ‘conversations’ out there… sometimes in sub-zero weather.
        To her, the risk of pneumonia was preferable to having her parents hear a single word she uttered
        < perish the thought…gasp ! > . She was constantly on about “needing” to have her own, private phone in her bedroom and our response was… “When you can pay for your own telephone line, then ‘go-fer-it’ Girlie ! “


          1. Oh, I’d have given anything to be able to take the phone outside onto the deck! Ours was right in the middle of the house at the bottom of the stairs and was as public as it was possible to be. And it was always my dad who, after the fifth time of shoving me out of the way to get up or downstairs (for no reason apart from to annoy me, as far as I could tell), grumpily forced me to end my vital conversation.

            Happy days.


    1. Sadly, she didn’t. I’m not surprised but … still a bit sad. It would have been nice to have that extra sprinkling of fairy dust!

      On the other hand, at least now I don’t have to figure out how to keep seven dogs and a chicken safely cohabiting inside the same house.


  4. It is not just you! I’ve had computers in my life since I was preschool aged, and yet I’m still often floored when I do some small, quick task that would have been neither twenty years ago!

    (I love your candor naming your foster dog for this post.)


  5. I really hope she made it through the night. Poor little hen. Please keep us posted.

    We also had an encyclopedia salesman come to our door when I was a kid. My mom bought a set, and I pored over those books day after day after day. I remember doing school reports and consulting the encyclopedias, way back before Google was even a twinkle in someone’s eye.


  6. I have no memories of a traveling salesman, but I do remember my parents old sets of encyclopedias. I’ve always loved book, and I remember as a child flipping through them when I was much to young to actually read them. And then I remember eventually reading them too! I loved them. I kind of wish there was still a place for them in our modern, internet based society. Although, I think my husband would probably kill me if I brought home an old set of encyclopedias to add to my book collection.
    And, I’m sorry your she didn’t make it!


    1. Well, so long as you do have books – and lots of them, filled with all sorts of wonderful things – your child will be blessed with magic. The internet is certainly more accessible and more convenient than paper when you’re doing research, but nothing in the world is quite like paging through a book. It’s like the difference between fingerpainting and the so-called “educational” abominations of the digital toyshop.


      1. We have a tonne of books to the point of it being a bit of a space problem. I’ve tried using a kindle for reading but it’s just not the same as a good oldfashioned book.
        Guess what I did yesterday, I bought two of my favourite childhood books for our child! My first spontaneous, unplanned purchase. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh SUPER! What are they? I’d like to suggest a wonderful Australian book – it’ll be years before your little one is ready for it (some parts are a bit scary!) but there’s no knowing how long it will continue to be available. It’s called “Snugglepot and Cuddlepie”, by May (Mae?) Gibbs, and you must get the illustrated hardback version.


          1. I have added Snugglepot and Cuddlepie to my amazon shopping cart so I’ll remember to get it! Thanks for the suggestion.
            I bought a very Canadian book – The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier. Everyone I know remembers this book from their childhood, and I often give it our friends kids. If nothing else, all the adults love it. And the other one was one that I vaguely remember from when i was little that happened to be on sale and looked cute, I cannot remember the title off the top of my head.

            Liked by 1 person

  7. Aww poor hen, let us know how things turn out. Bad dog yes, but in his genes I think to do stuff like that. I remember the set of Encyclopeida’s my parents had too and I loved reading through them! Jez, that seems like a million years ago….


    1. Hey, Tricia – thanks for stopping by! The hen didn’t make it, unfortunately … but we couldn’t blame the dog. Terriers are hunters, after all! We’ve made our chicken space more dog proof, and so far so good.

      Liked by 1 person

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