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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

It's Done: Hen Report

Louise was still ill this morning. She looked so small, all tucked in, head and tail, sitting in the box facing the back corner. She had not been out to eat or drink all day. That is not good. She is such a big girl when healthy.

I called my friend, Dickie, and asked him if he would kill a hen for me. He asked me why I did not just wring it's neck. I think he thought I wanted to eat it. I told him I was not sure if I could with back and shoulder problems, that it was sick and I thought he might shoot it. . "I'll be right over."

When I asked him how he was going to kill it, he said he didn't know if he had a knife sharp enough. No, he did not have a hatchet, just a machete. Withing 10 minutes he was here and in three minutes, Louise was dead. She did not make a noise when I picked her up to carry her out of the nest and only the tiniest sound as I walked to the spot for Dickie to work. She usually flaps about or struggles. I laid her on the ground and she just laid there, too sick to move about. Or, maybe she knew and was just resigned.

He asked me to put my foot on her so she would not move. I had to hold onto his back as he bent in order not to hurt her. My foot was barely on her, but I leaned heavily on him.

He hacked lots of times, maybe a dozen whacks with the machete to kill her because his machete was not very sharp. Louise barely made a whimper.

It's over.

When I went out this morning, there was Lucy, standing by the pen door. She survived. Usually, she runs away until I move from near the door. Remember, she did not grow up here. She is still wary of me.

Lucy and Thelma are not locked in the pen, so as I started out the door a few minutes ago, they were on the porch, waiting for me, making little noises. They run down the steps when I approach because they know I cannot get down the steps without coming near them or stepping on them. Besides, I have nudged their behinds enough that they know to move along.

When Dickie arrived, they were on the ground near the porch. "Which one?"

"Neither!" I am glad he did not whack one of them.

So, they ran ahead of us to the pen but ran around the pen when they saw Dickie was still coming.  They were not far away from the place where he killed her, but I don't think the releasing of her traumatized them like the raccoon killing did and the time that Pepper died dramatically with much noise and thrashing about INSIDE the pen with them.

Thelma and Lucy are eating creamed-style corn with corn meal mixed in to make it more stiff to peck and to give them more food. They will get the other half can and more cornmeal tomorrow.

I was raked over the coals by British readers who said I was cruel to not take Fancy to the doctor and spend almost $200 for her care. This one woman said we were cruel and unloving animal owners in America, that we should treat animals like children and get medical care. To be fair, some British people agreed with my not getting medical care for an ill hen if she had no chance and if I could not afford it.

Louise was hatched on March 29, 2009 and had a happy home here for almost four years.

NO anonymous comments will be published. AT ALL

I actually feel relieved and sort of happy now.

Your turn
They kill horses, don't they? The sick or disabled one, right? Did you ever have to put an animal out of misery? Is anyone having trouble posting pictures? Has everyone lost their blog roll and the little tag for people to join the blog like I have?


  1. We have had to put down chickens, dogs, goats, and bunnies throughout our years homesteading. They all were like family to us and we shed tears but it had to be done or let them suffer. Always thank them for giving so much joy to our lives and how much they will be lived. Also have a little burial ground for them. I am a sentimental old lady but you do what you have to do.

    1. Peggy,
      I refused to let her suffer, so I am at peace with my decision just as you re. I also feel I gave her a good life, so there are no regrets. I cannot dig a hole, so the trash was the best I could do without having a foul fowl around, waiting for someone to come and help me. I am sentimental, too.

  2. Linda,
    Please don't be offended by our British cousins. I lived there through my teens in order to go to school there. Culturally things are very different there. England is a very small nation, and generally people have much much less space available to them than they do here. Someone who has two chickens might be able to be totally devoted to them, whereas someone on a hundred acre farm with 100 chickens and many other animals in the US might not have that ability. Over time, those of us with larger farms and hundreds of animals find ways of assessing them daily, and we tend to have a farm vet either come by or give advice over the phone. There have been so many animal attacks by bobcat and other predators over the years, that I am getting quite good at taking care of them myself.
    Largely, these are CULTURAL differences with England. Some of the English cannot imagine how diverse life can be here, and some of us can't imagine how measured,regulated,controlled and stilted it can sometimes be there. There are many differences between the US and England. They had eradicated rabies because they are comparatively a small space. We have many predators here, and lots of poisonous snakes, whereas they do not.The US has LOTS of rabies. Fortunately, I have British friends who visit and who have been enlightened, and I have been lucky to have had a glimpse into why they can appear so rude sometimes when giving advice about something in which they don't have the full picture. Best wishes.

    1. I respect the difference in culture. I respect the quirks. I am still hurt at the cruelty of one woman toward me, calling me heartless and comparing chickens to children, implying I am cruel to childen, also.

      Even with two or three chickens, I do realize when it is time to let go. She was stumbling around last week. I just laughed, thinking she was getting old and clumsy like I am. Then, too late, I realized it was serious. I notice when things are different with my hens, but will never be able to catch it all. A visiting vet would be lovely!

      Some English people send me private notes, saying they understand, so it is not all Brits who feel this way. I did not mean to say all English feel the same.

      Thanks for understanding it all.

  3. I'm sorry you lost your hen Linda.
    We all have to do the best we can with the resources we have. I too can't see spending large sums of money one can't afford on an animal(pet or farm)in our care. If $ was no object, fine, but that's not reality.

    1. Slugmama,
      Thanks! My sister and her husband spent thousands of dollars saving their dog from Parvo (I think). I doubt I will ever be in the "money is no object" category.

  4. From someone who likes to publish anonymously:

    "Hello Linda,
    I just wanted to send you a message, hopefully it will provide some did the right thing by your chicken. Don't let those people who criticize you about not spending a whole lot of money, make you feel bad about yourself. They are not in your shoes. We all do the best we can with what we've got.

    I can tell how traumatic this was for you and how much you love your birds.

    I am one of your "anonymous" posters, and just noticed that I can contact you directly. (My eyes are pretty bad). I prefer to be more private, anyway."

    This writer sent me an email. I really appreciate the writer not trying to sneak in an anonymous email.

    Having cataracts, I do understand missing things!

  5. Hello Linda. My name is Irene. I sympathize with you. Don't let people get on you because of your decision. Some people would say it's only a chicken, but still that chicken provided you with food and company. I myself over the last 20 years have had to put down 3 horses due to colic. I had the vet out for each one trying to save them, but the colic was too bad. I ended up with a large vet bill for each one, but somehow I was able to pay the bills off eventually. Since moving to Kingman, Az back in 2/2004 I had one mare, Snipper, my love & pride of joy. We enjoyed just walking on the trails. In May 2004 I went out in the morning to feed her & found her down in the stall with a broken hind leg. To this day I still don't know how she did it. I live 45 minutes from town; the vet wouldn't have been able to help her anyway. It still bothers me how long she must have suffered to this day, so my husband put her down. So believe me, I know what it's like to have to put down an animal that you love very much, be it a horse or a chicken.

    1. Irene,
      Thanks for sharing your story of horses and your love of them. Your Snipper is my Fancy. (She died a violent death in a pen indoors.) People sort of think it is weird to love a chicken so much.

      Yes, it is hard to see even a chicken suffer. Since it appeared she had no chance, it just seemed right to end her suffering. I am at peace with it even though Dickie said she was dead, that he beat her to death, when I noticed her neck was not cut and she was twitching. I cringed but knew that he was hitting her so hard and fast across the neck that she only suffered a few seconds more. I had to watch.

      I said I am going to get a nice razor sharp axe for the next time.

      I think that my Fancy loved me.

  6. Oh, Linda! I'm so sorry for your loss! Anyone who reads your blog knows how much you dote on them! I'm behind on reading and didn't even know she was sick. I'm so shocked. Sometimes it's easier when the predators take our critters. Then we can be angry instead of feeling helpless.

    1. I knew she was stumbling around. Then, when she started acting puny, I was not concerned. She does that all the time. When the yellow poop streamed from her constantly, I knew it was fatal.

      It was not anger or sadness I felt this time, just relief. But, anger is a better emotion than feeling helpless.

  7. Just a suggestion, Linda, we've found a cleaver with its straight edge did a better job of chopping heads than the axe. Most axes are curved, so you have to hit a lot harder to do a clean cut.

  8. Louise,
    Thanks for that bit of advice. It also would have been a good idea to put the chicken's neck on a piece of wood instead of the ground. I guess everyone who raises a chicken should have a nice sharp instrument suitable to dispatch a chicken.

  9. I don't know how I missed this post. I'm sorry for Louise's dispatching, and your loss. It's always a hard decision to make, and I believe you made a good one.

    We pray over our animals even the ones we raise for meat...especially the ones we raise for meat. We always say a prayer thanking the meat animals for their ultimate sacrifice and a painless end before we butcher.

    1. Sue,
      Thank you. After losing Fancy after a hard-fought battle, I could see only one kind way out. I thnk my hens after I get an egg.


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