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Monday, August 25, 2014

A Flock in Chaos: A Tumultuous Week of Backyard Chicken Keeping

Spindy, on one of her in-home nights
This week, we put down Spinderella (our favorite hen), got a set of 4 baby chicks, and buried one of said baby chicks. It was a tumultuous week for the flock and for its owners.

Back in July, Spinderella began acting lethargic, not excited for the mealworms or cherry tomatoes she so loved. We found a local vet who often works with hens; she diagnosed Spindy with fatty liver. She predicted that we may have called too late, but she gave us instructions to feed Critical Care (actually made for guinea pigs) through a tube twice daily and to give Spindy some R and R inside. We followed instructions, and Spindy's crop got nice and full.
Some TLC

As soon as we put her outdoors again, Spindy began riding a roller coaster of health. One day, we thought she was better; the next she spent the day puffed out under a tree. When the heat index increased on Friday and Saturday, she began floundering around, unable to stand. Even in the air conditioning, she was panting, and we knew it was time.

To all of those hard-core farming types out there, this is where we former city-dwelling, inexperienced, overly compassionate and sentimental homesteaders fail. We took Spinderella to the emergency vet and paid to have her put to sleep via injection. I rationalize this expense by remembering why I wanted backyard chickens to begin with: to give animals who provide me with food a happy life, filled with dignity. There is just no way either my spouse or I have it within us to end her life in the more traditional methods, though we have discussed seeing if we can buy the injection supplies needed for future situations. At the vet, both of us felt the pain and stress of putting a pet down, which to me, means we had succeeded in giving Spindy the type of life I had wanted for her.

On the other end of the week, on Monday, the 18th, four chicks hatched at My Pet Chicken and were shipped our way!  Their fuzzy little bodies are a delight to anyone!

Our friends' kids have flocked here this week, and we've personally enjoyed watching these little ladies grow feathers and flutter around. Our flock is comprised of hens with musically-related names, and this year we let our nieces and friend's daughter name the hens.

We have a:
Eleanor Annie Cosette (Eleanor for Eleanor Roosevelt - strong woman; Annie for Annie Lennox, Cosette from Les Mes)


Katy Perry

One of the chicks, our Buff Orphington, didn't make it.

RIP Little Taylor Swift
We came home from dinner (the same day on which Spindy was put down) to find our little chick face-down in the brooder. We are unsure what happened, but we suspect heat. It was a sad day around these parts.

For now though, we'll enjoy the sound of our little peepers singing away in their brooder...and so will the mammals

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