Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Tough Weekend

This was a rough weekend.  Two of my chickens passed away this weekend.  Both of these chickens were ones I had been nursing back to health the past few months which makes it even harder because I was in close contact with them multiple times a day.  The first was my little silkie roo who didn't have a name but who I referred to as Sir.  On an afternoon in mid February I came home to find Sir sitting outside in the yard in a very stoic manner.  It was unusual for the silkies to be outside the coop, so I approached Sir slowly so as not to startle him.  From the front all appeared to be normal.  However, as I rounded the back of him, I noticed the reason for his stoic pose.  His entire back was ripped open, an apparent attack by the other birds.  You see, chickens have an almost obsessive fervor when they see blood and they continue pecking ruthlessly at the source of the blood.  This is what I can only assume happened to my poor roo.  So, he came to live inside and I began an intensive regimen of antibiotics and ointments to prevent him from getting an infection.  He healed up quite nicely and I began to let him free range in the afternoons just this past week.  On Saturday, I let him out with the other chickens while I went to my hand spinning guild meeting.  When I came home, all the birds came running to greet me.  All that is except Sir.  I was worried as it was unusual for him to wander off.  However, I let myself believe that he might be foraging a little ways into the woods and he would return that evening to be tucked into the coop with the rest of the chickens.  However, that evening, I searched and search all to no avail.  The Sir could not be found.  I checked everywhere for a sign of what might have become of him but my search was in vain.  The next morning I had a glimmer of hope that he had tucked himself away for the night and had found his way home in the morning.  However, I was saddened to see that he did not return.  Another search of the property yielded no clues.  I do not know what happened to Sir, I just hope it was quick, painless, and that he wasn't scared.  You will be missed my good Sir.  Your ridiculous crowing is a sound I yearn to hear and miss terribly.  Rest in peace my good man.

The second chicken was a buff orpington who I noticed seemed a bit down one afternoon approximately 4 weeks ago.  When I picked her up, I noticed immediately that she was very underweight.  I brought her inside immediately and tube fed her some pedialite to get some electrolytes in her.  I set her up in a crate on a heating pad hoping once she got warm and relaxed she would start to eat.  However, this was not to be.  She refused food, picking it up and dropping it, scattering it about.  So I began a regimen of tube feeding her three to six times a day.  Slowly she began to gain back some of her weight.  As the weather improved I put her out on the front porch for some fresh air.  I always offered her food, but she consistently refused to eat.  Then yesterday, when I brought her out onto the porch, I set down the tray of food fully expecting her to continue to turn her nose up at it, when suddenly she began to peck at and eat the food!  I was so excited!  It appeared we were turning a corner!  This was a bright spot in what had otherwise been a tragic weekend.  I tucked her in for the night, hopeful that we were on the upside of whatever disease had struck her.  However, this morning when I went down to bring her up onto the porch she did not open her eyes.  In fact, at some point during the early morning, she had passed on over the rainbow bridge.  I buried her in the rain this evening.  I hope she didn't suffer and that she enjoyed this past year of life.

I know it may seem silly for someone who is interested in farming to get sad over the loss of two birds who, for all intents and purposes, were not producing, and by some farming standards, were wasting time and resources.  Although I can respect and understand (to an extent) that philosophy, I cannot live by it.  I want to be known as a farmer who cares deeply for all living things, not just for what they can give me in terms of product, but for the joy I get from sharing my time and energy with them.  I am not in this to make money, in fact, at this rate, I will be lucky not to lose a small fortune.  But that is nothing compared with the joy I get from spending time with my animals and observing them and learning about them.  There is a time for sorrow and for joy on the farm.  I look forward to what this new week will bring.  

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