Never Underestimate the Dangers of a Fluffy Chick

This was supposed to be a fun little blog post about how our splash chick got a bath and his new name.  Of course, that was before the scary turn that had me anxious about going to sleep last night, for fear I’d dream of drowning in my sleep.

The chick, of course, doesn’t look like he could possibly be the source of any trouble.  He’d scratched his toe somehow, then swiped the blood from the scratch all over himself til he looked like a Halloween horror.  I brought him in to clean him up and find the source of the blood.

At first he wasn’t too sure the water was a good idea.  But, he soon warmed up to having his own personal spa treatment in what must have felt like a giant bath.  After all, the other chickens were outside freezing their knuckles off!

Afterwards I wrapped him in what we call a ‘silkie burrito’ to dry.  Yes, we have a name for what a silkie looks like wrapped in a towel.  I tucked him in the shower with some food and water, and left him warm and cozy while we went to our son’s band concert.

That’s how he got his name.  He was twittering and chattering and making sweet little sounds when we walked away, and we had the concert that night.  So, Jazz it is.

When we got home Jazz was mostly dry, but I didn’t want to put him outside on the coldest night we’d had yet if he was only mostly dry, even with a warming lamp.  So, he spent the night in the shower.  And other parts of the bathroom, cause he’s a very sweet and friendly little guy and if I could resist silkies, I wouldn’t have so many!

The trouble started later, after I moved him back outside.  It was a busy afternoon, and I didn’t get around to cleaning up the shower stall (one benefit of having a backup bathroom!) until evening.  It was moderately messy, so after sweeping it clean of food and wiping up any poop, I pulled out the bleach.  And being slightly obsessive as I am, I plugged the shower drain and poured the bleach on direct and undiluted.

I was just getting a good scrub going when my eyes started to sting.  Now, I hadn’t got any bleach in them–I’m not that foolish!  So I just squinted and kept scrubbing.  I did the same when my lungs started protesting.

The thing is about bleach is that it cleans so well it makes everything around it look dirty and I was noticing every grimy crevice or smudge.  So I kept scrubbing, down on my hands and knees with my head and shoulders in the shower stall.  I gave it up when the odd, stinky-sweet smell was so overpowering I felt like I’d soaked myself in it.  Even when I came out of the bath and opened a window it didn’t go away, but followed me like some kind of cheap perfume the lady at the mall squirted on you as you walked by.  Worse, it felt like it was in my lungs, like I was producing it with every breath I took.

I choked out something to my hubby and went outside on the deck.  Out there it felt a little better, but not much.  The best I can describe it is like drowning in a bottle of rotten perfume.  Drowning, without any liquid to be found.

While I coughed and hacked, my husband hit the internet to try and figure out what was the matter.  And as near as we can tell, what I was struggling with and what I’d created was chlorine gas.  It’s heavier than air, so once it got in my lungs it was reluctant to come out.  It stinks, burns the eyes, and can be created any time you add an acid to bleach.  An acid like, say, the residue from our shampoo plus a bit of our acidic soil and the chicken poop that hadn’t wiped up!  All trapped in the bottom of the shower stall with me when I plugged the drain and scrubbed and scrubbed.

Well, all’s well that ends well, right?  It took awhile (and a change of clothes) for my lungs to feel normal and the headache to go away.  It took longer for my eyes to leave off with their stinging and redness.  But in the end I was fine, and can even brag that I can identify chlorine gas by the smell.  If we were correct in identifying our problem, that is.

Some people would say this is a good reason not to bring chickens in the house, but for me, the moral of the story is clear:  teach the chickens to use the toilet.  After all, we know this won’t be the last time I bring a chicken in the house!

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