Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bon Voyage, Pearlie Mae.

A few things have ended recently.  I had been a complete coward about Pearlie Mae - going on and on about how "feisty" she was, and how "perky" she was. Sure, she was still eating and drinking, but she could not stand, walk or get out of her own way. One night I went out as usual, didn't see her in her enclosure, so assumed she had gotten into her house for the night as she always does. I locked the door and made the rest of my rounds. The next morning she was not in her house. I searched all over and found her wedged behind the bunny hutch, wet from the night's rain - looking very bedraggled. But still "perky". I had to suck it up and admit I was a wimp. I called my neighbor and asked him to come over and dispatch Pearly Mae. I know that I have to see to my own business and I've promised myself I will not call in the Marines the next time I am faced with this problem and will address it much earlier on. I think a lot of my cowardice comes from equal parts:  fear and ignorance. Fear that I will somehow botch the job and make the suffering worse, and ignorance of what is the best and most humane way to end a chicken's life. Sure, I know all the processing methods - quick chop/sharp axe, broom handle/foot, cone/knife - I've got the books. But this (at least to me) is different. Maybe that's where I'm going wrong. I had better arm myself better for the future - knowledge-wise, that is.
       Grendal is now off her nest of clunkers.  She came out of the nesting box loaded for bear and aimed straight for Alfie.  She pulled his head feathers; she jumped on him and bit him; she chased him around the yard.  In my best anthropomorphic manner, I imagined she was giving him hell for not providing the 'necessary ingredients' for fertile eggs.  In his defense, he is just a year old and not likely to be up to the task in the first place.  That does not, however, mean that he is not enjoying the process, if you catch my drift.  She had been setting on them for a month and a half and, recently, a crushed, rotten eggshell was found discarded outside of her nesting spot every other day or so.  There were two suspicious specimens left in her nest so I made the executive decision to cease incubation.  I have closed off access to her nest and will deal with the stinking mess another time.  It'll go right at the top of my to-do list.  Not.  Dottie's eggs came to naught as well.  Looks like next year will be the year of the ducklings.  Let's hope Alfie sees the light by then.


  1. I can completely relate to your angst about the final dispatch! I have a few hens looking worse for wear and I have the book knowledge to know what needs to be done -- I just haven't been able to do it yet. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. On our homestead, hubby tends to want to give "ailing" critters every chance to survive, and I would rather acknowledge they've had the best life we could provide them and not have them end their days in misery. Whichever way you go, I don't think it's EVER easy to send them on their way.

  3. So sorry about Pearlie Mae. I am a first time chicken mama and had to put down a little dominique roo with rye neck. I was depressed for two days! I hope I never have to do it again but know that is part of having farm animals.

  4. As a follow-up to my earlier comment -- it seems your post came in "handy" much sooner than I expected:
    Again, thanks for sharing your experience.