Red bought the farm yesterday. I didn’t think it was time for her to go yet, but she had her own thoughts, as she always did.
I wonder if it ever gets easy to say goodbye to your chickens. I was glad that this was quick, unlike when Henny P bit it, but it was still pretty hard for me. At least Henny had the decency to just die and freeze before I found her.
It was easier that way to give her to Roger so he could teach his kid how to trap a marten.
Red kicked the bucket too far ahead of the winter, so she didn’t get to enjoy the part of the circle of life where you become bait. She only gets to be the end and the beginning.
Well, I guess that’s not true. She’s probably baiting blowflies and a plethora of bacteria and other bugs that help with decomposition.
I tried to find a good infographic of the circle of life to support my claims, but all I got from Google images was this.
So, right from the death of Henny P, Red was my favourite chicken. She was the smallest, but she was also the lead chicken. If I would find a bunch of bugs somewhere, I would call the girls, but Red was always the first one there to get her fill. She had no fear of me, that’s for sure. She would peck and scratch my shoes if she thought I was hiding a worm under them.
I called her the ant sniper
The other chickens didn’t bother with ants very much, but Red would get in there and eat tons of them when I’d flip a rock over that was housing the little buggers. The others would stand around and try to eat some of the eggs, but Red would jump in and run them off. If she was going to do the work of getting all the ants, you can bet she’d be the one reaping the eggs. Even chickens know how delicious eggs are.
Another thing I loved about her was that she would jump up in my lap if I was sitting outside. She would get really close and stare at my face. I’m sure she was just hoping some mealworms would fall out of my nostrils or something but I like to think that she just liked the cut of my jib. It would explain why she liked to get all flirty when I would go to pet her.
In all seriousness though, when I went out to give them the melon guts last night, only three of the girls came running. I looked out to see where Red was but there was no sign of her. I peeked in the window to see if she was laying, but her head was hanging way out and bobbing up and down.
That got me worried
I went in and saw that she was having a hard time breathing and her eyes were closed. I put my hand under her and her crop was empty and her neck was really bony. She could barely open her eyes. I thought I took a bit of video and went in to show Gerri but I guess I didn’t hit the button.
We talked about how she was just out the day before running around the yard and eating lots of grass and bugs. It just seemed like there was no way she could have started failing so soon.
But she was.
By the time I got back out, she was looking even worse. I carried her outside and sat with her on the swing. It was taking all she had to breathe and I sat there crying and debating on the best way to ease her pain.
By this time our cat, Tubs had jumped up beside us and was smelling Red’s face. He started rubbing into my arm and being the sweetest cat you could ever imagine and then I noticed the old butcher knife on the chair. I thought that I would just go over to the fence and cut her head off in one quick motion. It seemed to be better than wheezing to death.
When I lay her head on the fencepost, I moved the knife over her neck and her blue eyelids opened to give me this horrified look and then she jerked her head back.
I, of course, took this as a sign that she wanted to live! Yes, that must be it. She’s letting me know that it’s just something stuck in her throat and if I could just get her to the vet, she would be back eating and drinking in no time.
I went back and sat with her again on the swing. Tubs gave her another sniff and she just laid her head down on my leg. I was back to crying again. She started to convulse like she was having the dry heaves and then she had a shit on my leg.
I had to act fast. I grabbed her neck and snapped it while getting up out of the swing and walking to the fencepost where I lopped her head off to be sure she was dead.
I put her in an old feed sack and wiped the last of my tears on my sleeve, which as it fell to my side, got smeared in the turd on my leg. Fitting.
I went into the house and solemnly thought about how there was no way I was taking a two and a half year old chicken that hadn’t laid more than two eggs a week for the last three months to the vet but I used that as an excuse to selfishly spend a few more minutes with my friend as she was going into the throes of death. I hope that she was comforted a little.
I’m going to miss my ant sniper and I’m happy the bylaw officer moved away two days earlier and gave her the chance to be a free-range girl again, at least for the last few days of her life.