I woke up yesterday to a dead chicken in my bathtub.
To be fair, I had put her there the night before when she was still breathing, shallowly and very much like Darth Vader, so it was not a total surprise. We had read how quickly chickens can go downhill, and unfortunately we now have firsthand knowledge of that fact. She was one of our newbies, the little Barred Rock. I found her slow and lethargic on Tuesday, with a dark burgundy comb but no wheezing or coughing. I hoped she was just cold.
Wednesday was bad. She dozed in a nesting box all day – I don’t think she even left the coop. It was late when I brought her inside for the evening, and I was here alone with the girls. J was out of town for the night but planned to stop for antibiotics on the way home in the morning. By then, it was too late. Poor girl.
I’d never handled a dead animal before, nothing larger than a hamster at least. Or a songbird that had flown into the window. Little BR seemed far heavier in death than in life, and I wondered how a person would manage a full-grown buck in the woods. Adrenaline, I suppose. The ground is frozen now; I don’t think we can even dig a hole. I feel badly about that – a sense of regret more than grief.
Yes, we name our chickens. We give them special treats and I sometimes make oatmeal for them in the morning. We do get attached. I feel a responsibility to give them the best life we can, to make their little chicken world comfortable while remembering that they are working animals, here for a purpose. I am glad she was warm when she went to sleep. There is that.