Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Old Hen Died

I went to feed the chickens before work Tuesday morning. Only 5 greeted me at the gate. No biggie - sometimes one is busy looking for treats under the food bowl or working on an egg in the hutch. I was startled to see #6 dead next to the food bowl.

Anthony called her the "spunky" hen. We don't name our poultry (except for Chicka the China); instead we usually call them the red one, the yellow one, the black one, the Americana, the one with feathers on her feet. Spunky was the oldest and definitely at the pinnacle of the pecking order.

She looked deflated. She had been alive the morning before, but must've died soon after I saw her. She had ants all over her. A quick inspection revealed no external injury, no foul play. Her breast bone jutted into the palm of my hand - she must've been ailing for some time without me noticing.

I held her by the feet away from Francesca's curious nose and showed her to the kids. "Aw, how sad!" said Anna. "Can we get a new chick?" Probably not, after the incident of the murderous hawk.

If Anthony'd been in town, I probably would have asked him to bury the old hen. But we were 5 minutes from leaving the house to go to school and work, and I wouldn't get home until after 7. I did not want to deal with her after her laying all day in the 90 degree sun all day. So, with a small twinge of guilt given her long loyal service, I bagged her up and put her in the dumpster (luckily it was trash day).

When I told Anthony, he was sad and wanted me to figure out why she died. "Old age, probably," I said, "Do you realize that hen was 7 years old?" I remembered we got her as a replacement pullet the summer Anna was a baby. We may miss her presence, but I'm sure we won't miss her eggs - I'm sure she's been in retirement from laying for years. Thinking about her longevity, and her life spent in the corner of our yard, with access to lots of chicken feed and sunshine and grubs, it seemed a good death after all and not quite so sad.

6 comments:

Joey said...

Wow. After 7 years, I'm sure her absence will be a strange void for awhile. Dying of "old age" means some organ gave out...I wonder what ails aging chickens.

EdamameMommy said...

R.I.P. Spunky Old Hen.

The Hefty Bag disposal does seem a little un-Jenn-like. But she did get a memorial on the www, more than most hens can boast about.

How will you replace her without risking hawk bedlum again? Troll around other asian eateries?

peevish said...

Sorry about the old hen. I'm glad the kids weren't too broken up about her.

Where is Anthony?

Emily said...

Farewell, old hen. Thanks for the eggs.

ColeBugsmommy said...

The ol' hen had a nice life on Martin farms!

Jennifer said...

Steph, we figured she wasn't laying anymore. The slain chicks were bought to replace her. A coworker gave us 2 young hens after that to replace them. I doubt egg production will suffer.