Project Chickens before the Eggs – Lesson 251 – Death in the hen house

I hate it when irony is not funny.

Last week, just last week I was talking with a friend about our chickens. And one of the most amazing things is that in the almost two years we’ve had them, other than a newborn chick, we have not lost one of our birds. Not one! I gloated, secure in our spectacular and gifted bird handling skills.

And then came last night.

I was at the ski mountain with the kids. Marc had (finally) returned from Vegas and had resumed his nightly chicken chores. The beeping on my Droid at the lodge indicated I had a message.

“We’ve lost a bird.”

Heart sinks to the floor. Oh no.

I didn’t mention it to the kids. They were tired. It was late. Tears would not have been a good mix. Tomorrow would be soon enough.

When I got home I looked at the bird which Marc had wrapped and put inside a grocery bag. (“Well what did you want me to do with it?”). I saw the brown, white, and black markings of a small, delicate hen.

It was indeed a dead bird. And it was Ives, our beautiful, beautiful bantam ornamental Mille Fleur d’Uccle. She is the one who brought an autumn themed Jackson Pollack painting to mind. She is the one who sat on our outstretched fingers as a baby in the summer’s warmth taking tiny offered bits of grain. She is one of the early ones who stole our hearts.

She is also the one people would always point at and ask, “Is that one really a chicken?”

Oh, yes, Ives was indeed one heck of a chicken.

One of our second batch of chicks, her sister Currier (who turned out to eventually be her brother Currier) was eventually re-farmed to a home with awaiting chicks leaving Ives to fend for herself. Concern for her being the smallest one in our flock prompted me to seek out and purchase Jodi-Picoult and Joan-Bauer our two serama-mixes who along with Ives made up our sub-flock of “littles”.

Usually I’m the one who wants to investigate the why and the how of everything. I can’t tell you, as a child, how many road kills I’ve inspected, poking and prodding to figure out what happened – what caused the switch to be turned off. I always wanted to know how they died. For some reason it was very important to me.

The many times I’ve been able to dispassionately examine a dead carcass – no longer a squirrel, a chipmunk, or a turtle but instead something from which to learn. A cold, dead fact to be discovered and then discussed.

But this time – I’m okay with letting Ives’ body lie undisturbed. I don’t need to know how she died. It’s not important. Just knowing that she did is enough information for me right now. It’s almost too much.




Filed under All things chickens, All things local, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Life Lessons, Project Chickens before the Eggs, The Family

6 responses to “Project Chickens before the Eggs – Lesson 251 – Death in the hen house

  1. I’m so sorry you lost Ives. I have one just like her and I call her Dotty. When I read your story and ran out side to make sure Dotty was OK

  2. Melanie

    I am so sorry for your loss. I am a fellow chicken-lover and owner living in MD and I have been following your blog since the chicken art was put up for auction and relating to what you post just about every day. I know what it’s like to lose a chicken for no apparent reason. In fact, I had a Rhode Island Red die suddenly this summer at only about 6 months old. I was concerned about disease and my other chickens so I took her to a state facility that did an autopsy for free. There was no disease found, which was a relief. So, you might just want to keep an eye on your other girls–hopefully this was just a one-time thing. Ives was just beautiful.

  3. Karen W

    So sorry for your loss, Wendy. Such a beautiful girl she was! I’m sure she will be missed.

  4. diane foss

    Dear Wendy,

    Mummy told us that one of your flock passed on to a better place. We were very sorry to hear it. Mummy has been squeezing each of us so hard it hurts, ever since she read your post. Each member of our family is precious. Believe us, we are grateful for every single day that our flock is together. Take care. Elliot Carter, Sushi, Bartleby, Claudius, Mummy, Daddy, and Figgy.

  5. Pingback: Lesson 260 – Little things in small packages « Lessons Learned from the Flock

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