Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Rehab and Retirement

Chickens can be nasty creatures.
Did I ever tell you about Sasha? She is a mini version of this big girl, an Australorp. A couple of years ago, I discovered Sasha one afternoon in the chicken coop near death, a gaping hole peck in the back of her head.
I told you chickens could be nasty.
I'd noticed Sasha limping but had forgotten what chickens do when they see or sense weakness. I felt badly that I'd forgotten; what terror she must have experienced as her coop mates -- her former feathery friends -- attacked her.
Because we don't kill our hens, we moved Sasha into the outer coop to give her peace and safety to either pass away or heal.Well, bless her little hen heart, she survived her grievous injury, slowly but surely. Actually, both her injuries eventually healed: her head wound and after a long time, her bad leg. She lived in the outer coop and once she had recovered, spent her days (which added up to months) by herself, limping and lurching around the yard, happily wandering through gardens. For a hen with a leg that wouldn't support her, she certainly could move when she needed to. Perhaps all that walking fixed the leg. We were able to put her back in with the other chickens again, where she is small and skittish but holding her own.
This big girl is Gwen. All our hens get a name if they turn broody although we never managed to hatch any eggs under Gwen. She never went broody again and she is the oldest of our hens; she outlived Big Mimi who was from the same hatch. We know Gwen is getting old because she's slowing down and often doesn't even leave the coop during the day.
Last week, I went into the coop to collect eggs and noticed spots of bright red blood on the black feathers around her head. In fact, behind Gwen's comb was awash in blood. Her injury wasn't as bad as Sasha's, I couldn't see any big wound, but I scooped her up and she became the latest hen to go solo. Rehab and retirement for Gwen. She can live out her remaining days in peace and quiet.

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