The Moment I Wept – Ode To a Little Hen

It’s been a very sad morning.

Apart from suffering from a very nasty virus the past few weeks (I blame Dark Mofo Festival) the weather’s been pretty awful and I’ve been watching the elderly hens and particularly B1 & B2 fairly closely. Although they’re younger than the rest, Isa Browns are notoriously frail little things, not bred to live long, just as egg-laying machines. These two came to us over 4 years ago from a paddock-run operation outside of Hobart. At 18 months they were too old to be commercial layers, but they suited us just fine and have been reliable egg-layers ever since. Incredibly tame, these docile little girls also enjoyed being picked up and petted, unusual among my rabble

Today I had to made the call to euthanase B2. I examined her and she was clearly starting to suffer, so I removed her from their run to a sunny spot near the apple trees. It was quick, as pain free as I could make it with a sharp hatchet. She left this plane being thanked for the joy she bought into our lives – not to mention the eggs. She was buried deep with great ceremony in a fallow bed, her final task to condition the soil over the coming months.

I was sad but this is the pact we make when we decide to keep backyard poultry or any companion animal. Chickens in particular can go downhill very quickly and I hate the thought of any creature in my care suffering needlessly. I kept it together until I went back with some barley greens for the other chickens.

There was B1, standing at the gateway, looking for her sister……

Vale B2


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sheree
    Jul 04, 2019 @ 15:44:59

    It can sometimes be tough having pets, particularly when they’re like members of the family.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Jen Hetherington
    Jul 05, 2019 @ 12:16:18

    Oh Debra, I offer my sympathy. I grew up on a farm, and we learnt a lot of lessons about life, death and I suppose… purpose. It seems an odd coincidence, but I happened to watch River Cottage Australia yesterday, an episode that dealt very respectfully with ‘nose to tail’ sustainable farming. I was flooded with memories of me, aged about 12, transforming the old chook yard (Mum decided she didn’t have time for the hens with twin baby girls to care for)… I built a veggie garden!

    Liked by 1 person


    • Debra Manskey
      Jul 05, 2019 @ 13:53:09

      Thanks so much Jen. Yes, I grew up in the country too and had care of a small flock of hens when I was about 12 – which included dispatching when needed. It never gets easy but the key always is respect ❤
      PS: Bravo for you building a veggie garden at 12!!!!



      • Jen Hetherington
        Jul 05, 2019 @ 14:42:11

        Oh, seriously, I don’t recall much respect for the fate of the ‘fowls’ (such a horrid term, I loved them!) And there was the weekend ritual, neck on the chopping block, Dad made me hold the body tight as he swung the axe. It is true that they keep running without their heads. But what I found most ‘foul’ was the body dunked in the steaming bucket… and then the plucking.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Debra Manskey
        Jul 05, 2019 @ 23:04:17

        Oh the plucking! That was a horrible job!!!

        Liked by 1 person

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