You’ve heard of Rocky Balboa, right? Star of Rocky films 1-6? You’re familiar with his story of triumph over adversity, of getting knocked down but always getting up again?
Well he ain’t got nothing on our Rocky! The little chick whose rags to riches tale, against all the odds, packs a much bigger punch!
Let’s start at the very beginning. Rocky came to us as one of 10 eggs given to us by Living Eggs as a learning tool, so our children could follow the hatching and early days of these very cute chicks.
Within 48 hours of their arrival, 8 of the eggs had hatched, the newborn chicks drying off in the incubator. As each appeared, they were given a name by whoever was watching at the time and their details added to a register.
The 9th egg hatched soon after but the last one wasn’t showing any signs of life. We were about to give up hope when one of the team noticed it wobble. And eventually, at 5am, its occupant emerged – to be christened Rocky.
But Rocky seemed limp, he wasn’t moving very much. The night staff were worried. They moved the other chicks to a different tank to prevent Rocky and his fellow latecomer getting trampled on. Soon enough the 9th chick was fully dried out and ready to join his brothers and sisters.
But poor Rocky was not in a good way. Unable to stand, he couldn’t reach the water or food we’d provided. It wasn’t looking all that hopeful.
But, fortunately for Rocky, help was at hand. And it came in the shape of one of our amazing nurses, Sally. After her night shift at the hospice, she took Rocky home with her, collecting an incubator from a friend on the way.
So while our children and families (and most of the rest of the staff, it has to be said!) cared for, played with and watched the other 9 chicks grow and develop, Rocky was getting intensive one-to-one attention!
At home, Sally noticed that 3 claws on Rocky’s right foot were curled inwards rather than lying flat and his right leg was splayed outwards. This was why he couldn’t stand up properly. So Sally did what all our care team are so good at – she worked out how to make things better for Rocky. Fashioning a splint for his leg from sticking plaster, she also made him some orthopaedic sandals by drawing round his feet on card, cutting out the little shapes and sticking his feet to them.
Rocky wasn’t terribly impressed by this arrangement but it made a difference immediately – he was able to move about and get the food and drink he needed. Sally changed the splint every day and soon Rocky was back on his feet – literally!
Meanwhile at the hospice …. children were painting eggs, creating eggshell collages, growing cress inside shells – all manner of egg-based fun. They got used to handling the chicks – they were all brilliantly gentle with them. And they got to look after them too - one boy who was staying with us was so smitten with the birds he’d happily clean them out, change their food and water at every opportunity!
Of course, everyone kept asking about Rocky – was he ok?
And he was. He was doing more and more each day, moving around his coop, developing feathers. Our Rocky was growing up.
And at the end of two weeks he was ready to join his sisters on a beautiful free-range farm in the Pennine Hills. We like to think of him there, living the life of Riley, despite his disabilities. Because he may just be a chicken but he’ll always be a champ to us!
Huge thanks to Living Eggs for supplying our clutch!
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