The Diary of a Goose Girl
I have been studying The Young Poultry Keeper's Friend of late. If there is anything I
dislike and deplore, it is the possession of knowledge which I cannot put to practical use.
Having discovered an interesting disease called Scaly Leg in the July number, I took the
magazine out into the poultry-yard and identified the malady on three hens and a cock.
Phoebe joined me in the diagnosis and we treated the victims with a carbolic lotion and
scrubbed them with vaseline.
As Phoebe and I grow wise in medical lore the case of Cannibal Ann assumes a different
aspect. As the bibulous man quaffs more and more flagons of beer and wine when his
daily food is ham, salt fish, and cabbage, so does the hen avenge her wrongs of diet and
woes of environment. Cannibal Ann, herself, has, so far as we know, been raised in a
Christian manner and enjoyed all the advantages of modern methods; but her maternal
parent may have lived in some heathen poultry-yard which was asphalted or bricked or
flagged, so that she was debarred from scratching in Mother Earth and was forced to eat
her own shells in self-defence.
* * *
The Square Baby is not particularly attracted by the poultry as a whole, save when it is
boiled with bacon or roasted with bread- sauce; but he is much interested in the
"invaleeds." Whenever Phoebe and I start for the hospital with the tobacco-pills, the tin of
paraffin, and the bottle of oil, he is very much in evidence. Perhaps he has a natural
leaning toward the medical profession; at any rate, when pain and anguish wring the
brow, he is in close attendance upon the ministering angels.
Now it is necessary for the physician to have practice as well as theory, so the Square
Baby, being left to himself this afternoon, proceeded to perfect himself in some of the
healing arts used by country practitioners.
When discovered, he was seated in front of the wire-covered "run" attached to a coop
occupied by the youngest goslings. A couple of bottles and a box stood by his side, and I
should think he had administered a cup of sweet oil, a pint of paraffin, and a quarter of a
pound of tobacco during his clinic. He had used the remedies impartially, sometimes
giving the paraffin internally and rubbing the patient's head with tobacco or oil,
sometimes the reverse.
Several goslings leaned languidly against the netting, or supported themselves by the
edge of the water-dish, while others staggered and reeled about with eyes half closed.
It was Mrs. Heaven who caught her son red-handed, so to speak. She was dressed in her
best, and just driving off to Woodmucket to spend a day or two with her married
daughter, and soothe her nerves with the uproar incident to a town of six hundred