It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. Marguerite died Friday during the night.
I found her Saturday morning, nestled in the nesting box, eyes closed. She seemed peaceful. She had just about finished her molt and I figured she was spending more time in the nesting box lately because she was gearing up to lay eggs again. But no; there was obviously something else wrong. I took her to the vet Friday afternoon after noticing her level of lethargy increase, her appetite dwindle, and her general level of interest in all things outside pretty much fizzle to zero. Three days was obviously too long to wait.
I read in all of my chicken-keeping books that if a chicken displays signs of illness, it is usually too late. They hide it so well. You attribute their “issues” to egg-laying, weather changes, molting, whatever. And by the time you start asking yourself, “Did they eat the fertilizer in my potted plants that I just planted last Saturday?” or, “Did I miss signs of worms in her?” she’s almost already gone. So you fill your potted plants with big rocks and crushed oyster shells to deter digging in the soil, and you put de-worming meds in their water for three days, and finally after all efforts are exhausted, you take her to the vet for x-rays because you’re SURE she’s egg-bound. And they can’t find anything. Except signs of weight loss or dehydration or “her crop was really full.” So you take her home after what she most assuredly feels was a bout of torture, and you sleep like hell because you’re worried about her, and you check on her in the morning and she’s as still as a ghost… Because she is a ghost.
And then you deal. What else can you do? Except think it’s maybe your fault because WHAT ARE YOU DOING WRONG TO MAKE TWO OF YOUR BELOVED HENS DIE WITHIN SIX MONTHS OF EACH OTHER??? Mabel and Marguerite were only three years old. It’s not fair. It’s not FAIR.
Okay, so I am angry. And sad and frustrated. And anyone who doesn’t think it hurts just as much to lose a little hen as it does to lose another beloved pet doesn’t know us chicken owners very well. Listen up: It downright sucks.
The only creatures who are happy with this sudden change of circumstances are the babies: Henrietta and Mabelene. They have moved up one notch in the pecking order. They are garnishing the devoted attention of the elusive Goldie (who was joined at the wing to Marge after Mabel’s death). And they are finally–finally–roosting on the main coop roosting bars. While Goldie sleeps in the nesting box. Ironic, isn’t it?