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Bye bye birdie

Posted by joeabbott on October 6, 2012

As trite as the title of this post may be, it was a somber occasion in our home yesterday: another of our chickens died.

Over the last couple weeks our Original Red (OR) was slowing down, had lost her spot in the pecking order, and just started acting differently. We worried there was something wrong but amid all the odd behaviors, she’d have a few good moments in the day, act like normal, and you’d think, “aha, she’ll be just fine.” And yet, yesterday morning when Suzy went to check on the birds before heading into work, she found our OR outside the shelter, slumped in the sand of the coop run. It brought back memories from 15 months ago when we found another chicken in that same place, same situation.

The OR was probably Suzy’s favorite bird: she was clever and sociable and very polite. A couple months back when we had a photographer come to the house to shoot some pictures of our new kitten, Trasper, the OR was bopping around outside the sliding door in the back; Suzy picked her up, coaxed her to stand still with a meal worm treat, and now we have professional pics of one of our chickens. Too funny.

But, the OR is gone and we’re down to a flock of six. Oddly, the birds don’t mind or even seem to miss her. Perhaps when a sick chicken falls from the pecking order, she can fall right off the end and cease to be before she’s gone. Perhaps there’s relief in a flock animal when a sick one is gone, ensuring the group is stronger overall. Perhaps I haven’t a clue how chickens feel or emote.

Perhaps.

But, Suzy and I are a bit sad and hope that our lack of actively addressing the OR’s problems didn’t cause her discomfort or distress. I’ve said “just a chicken” before (about 15 months ago) but it’s not getting easier to say.

Thanks for being a good bird, giving Suzy and me a smile now and then, and for all the eggs. It has been a pleasure having you in our flock.

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One Response to “Bye bye birdie”

  1. Momma said

    I feel really sad about losing your beautiful hen – and she was a beauty. I was so happy to have her show up in several of the photos your photographer Jacqui shot in your garden. Usually I thought of chickens like something you see in the grocery case, but yours looked so healthy and well cared for and, well, really beautiful – chickens at their very best! So I’m sorry you lost her (what a sad sight for Suzy to have to come upon…), and am really glad that there are still 6 hes pecking around out there. Maybe there’s a chicken heaven – if so, it would probably look a lot like your garden. Momma/Fran

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