This has happened before this year so I’m starting to wonder about things such as boomerangs.
Last evening, Maggie opened the back door and amidst the shuffling of boots and coats and coming and going, me zipping one more thing together to send with Mar out the door, I heard her say, “One of the Rhode Island Reds isn’t doing very well.”
“Oh, she’s got Peritonitis and we have to drain her. But I’m going to do that later.”
I watched her face. I knew she wanted in on the procedure. Maggie is all in.
Maggie offered up to scramble around to finish the other chores, I caught her message. I helped her finish and we were done soon enough and then she collected up Red, the Rhode Island Red.
I brought the syringe and some alcohol swabs over and started cleaning up the swollen pouchy, distended abdomen between some feathers. Red squirmed a bit in her arms and she adjusted her hold.
I drew off 2 full syringes of clear, yellowish liquid and dispensed it on the ground below, looked at Red to determine her level of comfort, and found a new place to draw off more from her swelling. The next syringe-full was yellow but then turned reddish and I stopped.
“Oh, she’s got blood in the liquid. That’s enough.” We discussed where we could settle Red for the night, thinking that she wasn’t going to be able to rally, knowing the blood was a bad sign. As we walked toward the barn to get a crate to make her comfortable, she started to drain from her beak, spittle rising up and out along the walk in Maggie’s arms. Her breathing was labored and she made gurgling, choking sounds.
Maggie and I looked at each other in distress, I took over holding her because it was time for Maggie to head home.
I sat with Red for about half an hour and it got dark. I had still more work to do outside and so I thought I would wait to bury Red on the morrow. I put her still body, eyes closed, in the small chicken coop that was vacant so she would be clean and un-bothered by the other hens in the night. I was shaken by the sudden and quick decline and loss, disappointed in myself for hastening her exit from life on the farm, even if she wasn’t long for the world before we had intervened.
I spent about 2 more hours out in the night air, finishing other unsavory chores, and finally came in and took the longest hot shower to warm my frozen extremities from tingling back to normal.
This morning I hustled and bustled to ready the farm for my absence. I was getting as much as I could done before heading north to pick up Miles, the new mini donkey, with my friend Tara and her horse trailer.
After fussing over Peppy awhile, getting her breakfast of leftover Halloween pumpkins and other savories, I went to the chicken coop to let the hens and roosters out. They pour out of the door of the coop in the morning, like turning on the tap and a flood of red, white, rusty, speckled, black, grey and rose-colored feathery flowers flow forth. Ravenous hens looking for tasty victuals in the grass and leafy surrounds.
I walked to Red’s coop to collect her up and bury her in a little chicken grave. I hated starting the day this way. Sometimes I feel like I’m all done with losses. Like I can’t keep it up. I knew that this day held the addition of a new mini donkey to the farm, a companion for Bilbo, possible new guard donkey for the sheep. I knew that Red had shown me signs of decline in the last week, making this no surprise. But I still suffer a heavy heart.
I opened the door. My jaw literally dropped. Out of the coop door-way hopped Red, scooting off to join the other chickens, just as healthy looking as she’d been the morning before. Can you imagine the start I had?!
Today Red puttered around with Princess Peppermint. I noticed the other chickens were picking on her a bit while I was tending to the other chores and so I collected her up and put her in the garden with Peppy. She picked at Peppy’s breakfast dregs and she scratched about in her hay. Peppy doesn’t mind the company and doesn’t fuss at her at all.
Red is still oblong-shaped, penguin like from her pendulous fluid-filled sac, but she is moving about quite well. She has some wet plumage where there is still some drainage, but she is not inhibited by it.
I don’t expect Red to live much longer, but I’m going to do my best to help her be comfortable, seeing as she is not done yet.
Does anyone remember my story from earlier this summer when I thought I’d lost 30 turkey poults? Yeah, the Jesus-turkeys?
By golly,we’ve got some kind of two-way rainbow bridge here on this farm. I’ll take it.