Sunday, October 01, 2006

Life and death

"You're not going to put this in your blog, are you?" my husband asked.

"Nah!" I lied.

He was working in the cellar when one of the tough old Barred Rock hens came up to cellar door and started to come in; he shooed her off before he realized that she had a huge gash in her head, in fact, much of the skin on the back of her head had been stripped. And one eye was either missing, or so bruised that she couldn't open it.

Dan thought the rooster had done it--he's prone to rough sex in the driveway--actually, he's one of the most sexually active roosters we've ever had. But he figured it out too late. After he shooed her away, we went looking for her around the yard and the woods, but couldn't find her anywhere.

We resigned ourselves to the idea that she'd gone off into the woods to die. We've lost five or six birds since we began keeping chickens four years ago, and it's still a sad event. I once held an injured Blue Andalusian chick in my hands and felt her last jolt of life. Other times, you find them out in the coop.

Sunshine, our big old Buff Orpington rooster, just keeled over one day out in the yard. Sometimes birds die and you don't even know why.

So we went to some friends' house for dinner with the thought that we'd never see that Barred again.

Then we came home around 10:30, and there she was, sitting on top of the coop, looking like something out of a bad cartoon, one eyelid bloodied shut, the back of her head and neck a black ooze of blood an pus. All that was missing was the little crown of stars rotating over her head!

We brought her into the cellar and made her a box, fed her some water and crunched up pellets, and she started to come around a little. Today, she's still a scraggly mover--we don't know whether she'll make it, but she has at least survived another day.

I thought: sometimes, this is what your life becomes: midnight on a Saturday night and you're down in the cellar, nursing a one-eyed chicken.

1 comment:

dhort said...

Well? Has the hen cackled her last or has she rallied to scrabble again?