One of my roles is Farmer (well, Wife of Farmer, to be more accurate). As such, I have a morning (and evening) routine when the primary farmer is away.
- Get coffee. (Get coffee is always Rule Number One, no matter what). 🙂
- Feed the Teenager Chickens in the transitional coop; refill their water as needed.
- Feed the Big Chickens; they are now on a very efficient self watering system that my husband designed and set up (this totally rocks!).
- Gather up any eggs.
- Evening: repeat.
I do most chores that are part of chicken rearing without any problem, but have heretofore drawn the line with a couple of things: I don’t check the vents for egg bound chickens and I don’t remove the dead bodies from the general population. Those jobs belong to Farmer #1 (or my son does it by default when my husband is not available). In short, Man’s Work.
Well, last evening as I entered the coop with the feed scoop held aloft, the Big Chickens ran toward me in one giant chicken wave as always…except one. There was Pidge, laying on her side, legs out behind her, lifeless. Poor Pidge (short for Pigeon, so named because of her coloring and size) had not been herself for a week or so, but in the two days prior seemed to be recovering well and we thought she was going to make it. Just that morning she had flown up to meet me when I brought the morning feed out to them. I took a closer look at her.
Dead dead dead.
The cartoon-like caricature of death flashed into my mind, complete with “X”‘s where the eyes should be and I superimposed the image on Pidge. (The eyes really did look blank like that!).
As an RN, I automatically reviewed the procedure for the pronouncement of death and had a moment of black humor as I envisioned checking the apical pulse and blood pressure on the little hen. I reviewed my options: Husband and son both at work and neither would be home for hours. I couldn’t in good conscience leave the corpse in the coop with the general population for that long.
I was going to have to Man Up.
I recalled a female friend who raised chickens telling me that the worst part (of disposing of the dead chickens) for her was handling them. Her work-around method for avoiding this was to put on a pair of work gloves then get a shovel to pick up the dead bird and remove it from the coop.
I got my (husband’s) gloves. I got my shovel. I got up my nerve and I entered the coop. I focused my gaze just to the right of Pidge, picked her up with the shovel, and took her to her final resting place.
The lesson here? Don’t name your chickens.
Footnote: I just named a chicken last week: Coconut. I am ever hopeful I guess.