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Yesterday White Chicken was diagnosed. The real cause of her ill health was “internal egg laying.” There is no certain cause of internal laying, and no real cure. It means that a chicken’s yolks (ovum) begin to be deposited in her internal body cavity, rather than traveling down the oviduct, getting clothed in egg white and shell, and laid.

After a week of nursing her on the dining room, thinking she looked better, it felt bad not to get to say goodbye and thank you.

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Thank you, White Chicken, for two solid years of laying an egg just about every day. I always admired your ability to escape whatever fence I created, so you could go out and forage, but even more I admired that you could always find your way back in! White Chicken, you were unusually smart, and very independent. You got out where you wanted to go, but the fox never got you. You also perpetually thought I was about to kill you, and rushed around in near panic every time I came in with food and water.

Which is why, until she took up residence on our dining room table, there were no up close photos of White Chicken –  except this one, of her with her adoptive mother, the crazy broody Wellsummer Mama:

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White Chicken as a chick

Last night it was comforting to read in my online search that the most likely cause of internal laying is genetics, or how the baby chick was raised or maybe handled. In any case, it wasn’t me.

But still I felt sad all evening.

White Chicken was a really memorable, hard-working, nutcase hen. There is so much to know about animals — so much to learn about any living being you are trying to care for or love! Study is required to do it right. And paying attention. Listening. This October has been a month full of learning for me, in so many ways.

Last night I de-loused the flock. (The vet found lice on White Chicken.) I held each hen on my lap and massaged the powder gently into their skin. At first they panciked, then I hope they enjoyed the attention. At least they should feel better free of parasites. Today I will clear and dust the whole coop. I generally think of myself as providing a good home to my chickens and dogs – but I guess the lesson is that one can always do better. There are always things to learn.  Listen.

 

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ADDENDUM:

Yesterday I learned that my niece had a beautiful baby girl the night after White Chicken’s passing. This is such a comfort. I do not equate a chicken with a human life, still, there a beauty is the thought of a beginning of a life at the time of another life’s ending. I think, once I get to know my grandniece and see if she deserves the honor, I will add to her other beautiful names Liesel Eden the title Little Chick.

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