Thursday morning when I went to let the chickens out of their coop I found poor Hazel lying stiff in the corner. She was 3 years old and had seemed fine the day before.
Hazel had been the leader of the 3 hens and had survived being attacked by a fox 2 years earlier. (Casey our dog saved the day by chasing off the offending fox and apparently keeping him at bay all this time. It's hard to believe that a fox was so close to a fresh chicken dinner didn't come back to finish the job, but I guess knowing the ferocious Casey was guarding the hen house kept him and his marauding gang of friends away ) That's the ferocious Casey below sporting the blue bonnet.
Despite 22 years in the medical field, when I realized Hazel was not moving, I froze. How can you tell if a chicken is dead? I did what every self-respecting, medical professional turned-backyard-farmer does. I called to my 8 year old son.
"Asher I think Hazel is dead, can you touch her and see if she is cold?" That's right, I couldn't even touch her. I have worked in Trauma and ERs for the greater part of my life and I couldn't even touch my dead chicken! Well not at first anyway.
Asher looked at me incredulously, tentatively reached in the coop and placed his hand on her still body a confirmed that she didn't feel warm. Not exactly cold. How cold did I mean? Alright already, if you want to confirm the death of a chicken I guess you've got to do it yourself. After my expert medical assessment I decided that yes, the old girl was indeed dead.
Hazel was buried in a hasty ceremony attended by
only her 2 siblings. They squawked appropriately, bobbing their heads and eying critically my newly dug grave. So maybe it wasn't the recommended 3 feet, maybe only 2 feet or possibly, just barely one. I planned on covering it with the compost bin and besides, I could not bring myself to throw her body into the trash as my husband recommended. She had provided us with so much; the experience of holding a baby chick until it drops it's little head and falls fast asleep in your hands, watching that little chick mature into a scruffy teenager, and then full grown hen, and then peeking into the laying box to grab a warm egg and of course eating that same egg, the soft yolk broken over a piece of toast. I couldn't throw her away with the trash.
Good bye Hazel, we'll miss you!