Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thank You, Girl...Now It's Time To Fly


The white chicken on the left has been with us for about 5 years or so. Well, actually all of the chickens in this picture have been with us for a while. I originally had four Pearl/Leghorn egg layers from Murray McMurray Hatchery, but this one was our last, the others succumbing to frailties after relatively short but very productive egg laying careers. They were the first to start laying and lay they did! Big, beautiful jumbo-sized eggs that were the delight of my kitchen.
She was the last of her kind. I had noticed she really didn't come back well after a few months off to molt and R&R before it was time to go to work again. This week saw her beautiful red comb start to shrivel and become dull and grey - a sign of a sick or failing hen. Yesterday I thought she was just cold so I made sure she had the heat from the light towards her when I penned them for the night as well as blocking any breezes that may have hit her by shutting the shutters to that side of the barn.
But this morning she barely moved. Sullen, withdrawn...there was a look in her eyes of giving up. She wasn't interested in food or scratch. I left her in the warming morning sun promising to come back to check on her later. When I did I knew it was time to let her go. She had made it into the barn, propping herself up against the nest boxes as if she knew that's where she really belonged. It was time. I knew I had to ease her way past the pain into another light.
Our friend and cat-vet, Bill, had told me about "The Death Hug" he used to cull chickens. By firmly, but gently pressing on the ribcage and prevent its expansion, it calmly caused a chicken to go peacefully. I tried it and found her to go very gently into another place...one with warm sun, bugs, and large pastures. I knew when she barely shuddered it was a kind thing to do.
People may think it strange that a no-named chicken is held in such esteem here. This girl gave us many, many eggs to feed us and others and gave us hours of entertainment as we watched her and her flock-mates do their "chicken thing" in the pasture.

She served me well and deserved to go with respect for all she had done. Thank you, dear girl. You did well. And I will miss you.

13 comments:

Tammy said...

Hi Kathy,
Sorry to hear about your white hen. It is the same here. Even if all of them don't have names, they are respected members of the 'flock' and have earned their keep over and over. I'm glad you were able to help her over. What kind is that multi speckled hen in the back? She is so beautiful. Take care,
Tammy

Cheryle Hoover Davis said...

Kathy, I'm so sorry to hear you lost the dear hen. It was so very kind of you to help her to the 'big pasture' and not let her suffer any longer.

Cheryle

Wrensong Farm said...

Hi Kathy, this is a timely post for me! Rarely do my chickens get names but every life is important to me. I have a little hen that has some problem with using her legs. I have her in a stall and I have been feeding and watering her and trying to decide how to have her go with as little distress as possible. I think I would like to try and use "the death hug", it sounds humane. Thanks for sharing even though it was such a sad moment. Lots of people just don't understand just how much pleasure people get from their chickens.

Mim said...

Sweet!

Sharon said...

Well done Kathy. Chickens are undersung.

thecrazysheeplady said...

I totally understand how you feel about your hens. Thanks for sharing the death hug too. I know that sounds odd, but it's a good thing to know.

Juliann said...

Kathy, I'm sorry to hear of your hen. I've had chickens for 30 years and I have many memories of individuals that stood out from the flock due to their unique personalities.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I haven't had to face the end of any of my chickens either as a child or now; I hope I could do the kind thing as well but it is so hard. I still lose it (like right now) when I think of putting Rosie down, even though I knew it was the right thing to do. SO painful!

nursedragon said...

Kathy, so sorry about your hen. It's not easy to let a fellow creature suffer, so you were brave and gave her a dignified and respectful send-off. May we all be the recipients of such kindness. - Mel

Dave said...

Bless you for doing the right thing. This is the side of farming that makes it hard to do sometimes...

Pamela said...

I agree that the death hug is a good thing to know. I can't think of a better tribute to your hen than your words. You are so right--the animals give us so very, very much. You did right by her, and that's the best than can be done.

Dave said...

Tammy - to answer your question - it looks like a Speckled Sussex to me..

Kathy said...

Yes, Tammy & Dave - You did indeed spy a Speckled Sussex. I used to breed and show the Sussex as well as true Ameraucana, both bantam and large fowl. The black on is an Australorp with our bantam Ameraucana roo, Slick, inbetween her and the Easter Egger in the lower right. :)