Sunday, June 4, 2017

A Chicken in Time

Ryland has passed on to whatever great reward awaits chickens.

There is no breading there.

We picked her out of a batch of chicks from a local breeder back in January, along with two others who turned out to be roosters.  We likely won’t go back to that breeder, as one of the roosters ended up with a gimpy leg and finally keeled over a couple of weeks ago, while Ryland developed wry neck – an odd condition where the head ends up 180 degrees off plumb so everything looks upside down.  It’s a selenium deficiency, aggravated by genetic factors, so I spent most of late February and early March hand feeding this sick chicken – grinding up selenium tablets and vitamin E (which helps with selenium absorption) and sitting in the living room with this chicken on my lap while she ate.

Poultry makes you do strange things.

Ryland recovered and eventually we shipped her out to the barn with all the other chickens, and she spent a happy couple of months looking slightly askew at the rest of the world and doing the things that chickens do.  She was also very docile and enjoyed being handled, which was kind of nice.  Most chickens are skittish that way, but Ryland seemed to find it comforting.

But sometime in early May we got to the barn and the wry neck was back.  And since the cure for this was simply to feed her three times a day with dosed up scrambled eggs – something you really can’t do at the barn, at least not with any convenience – we took her home, put her in a large cage, and let her live in the garage.  On nice days we’d set the cage up outside so she could get some air.

This chicken owed us a lot of eggs, by the end.

She seemed to get better for a while, and then she didn’t.  Yesterday you could tell that she was on her last legs – to be honest, I was surprised she was still there last night when I put her back in for the night.  And this morning she was gone.

I buried her in the back, behind the garage, with all the other random small animals who have passed on while in our care (or, in the case of a couple of stray cats who got trapped in our garage one hot summer week, simply on our property).  She is at peace now.

Farewell, Ryland.  You were a good chicken.


LucyInDisguise said...

Ya know, it's kinda difficult for me to get too emotional about a chicken. 'Course, I've never raised one from a pup or hand fed one while nursing it through an illness.

Still, I'll offer condolences, or at least an attempt at understanding.



David said...

Yeah, most of the time chickens just come and go, even the ones you raise. They're fun but not the most cuddly or personable animals. It certainly hasn't slowed down our chicken consumption, for example. But I spent a lot of time hand-feeding this one, and she was a sweet little bird.

Thanks for the condolences - I appreciate them.