February 2009 Archives

And Then There Were Two

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Sick Joan

I had to euthanize Joan today. She'd been unwell since mid-January, and last week took a steep turn for the worse, hiding behind the compost bins and not wanting to come out of the nest box. I thought she was broody, but she was sick. This photo shows how yellow her comb and wattles had become, and she was having trouble walking and had lost her appetite. Note the bowl of tuna in front of her, uneaten.

I took her to the Very Expensive Avian Vet on Friday and spent scads of money on her, and found out she was worse than we thought. Her blood iron was lower than the vet had ever seen in a living bird.

We did subcutaneous fluids, a crop injection of hydrating fluids, injected antibiotics. We kept her in a brooder inside, with a heat lamp, all weekend. We shot food and water down her throat. Saturday she seemed to perk up and we were hopeful, but Sunday night she began to worsen and yesterday she did not want to move any more. So today I went to the hardware store and bought an axe.

It's not easy to kill an animal you have raised from a baby and treated as a pet. But by raising an animal in captivity you take on certain responsibilities. I could have spent more money and had the vet inject her, but unlike a dog or cat, there is a humane way to kill a chicken in your own yard.

She's buried under the sour cherry tree, because last summer she was the one who discovered that she could jump up and eat the cherries off the branches.

And here's how I remember her:

Joan about to peck