5 November 2012

A decorated casket

Today, on my 40th birthday, I was greeted at 6am by little Anna walking in the front door saying "Mrs Cluck's dead now." And she was.

I'd known it was imminent (see my post from when I first noticed it here). I'd telephoned a chicken expert and described her symptoms, and was told that he'd never managed to save a hen with a 'sour crop' - basically a blockage in the digestive tract. Death came at most 48 hours after the symptoms started. Until then she was wonderfully vigorous and healthy - a thing I look for and enjoy every day in my hens. Such crude living conditions, such rude health.

She was placed into the casket Anna had decorated for her the night before, while she was still in her sick bay, eyes closed, shutting down. (Ever the biologist, I was interested to note that her eyelids came up from the bottom, rather than closing down from above like ours.)

Jack wouldn't look at the corpse, but requested a feather to remember her by. (Those things are stuck in hard, I found!) We were all sad.

 She will fertilise the passionfruit vine growing near her burial spot. Anna planted a sunflower seed on top of her.

Should I have ended her suffering earlier by killing her? I don't know. I didn't want to and wasn't sure I could do it humanely. Should I feel guilty? It's not a privilege accorded to humans suffering unavoidable deaths, is it?

My birthday, to be celebrated properly with a very small gathering on Friday night, was good anyway. I enjoyed all my cards, especially the handmade creative, witty ones from my husband and children. On the back of his, Ian revealed a terrible secret: he's known for a long time where my chocolate hiding spot is. Darn it.

As for my present, look out for better photos from a soon-to-be purchased camera. Then you can all enjoy my birthday present! (Later update: I think the old one was better.)

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