Death on the Homestead

I’m not an expert and I’ll never pretend to be. Is anyone really an expert? Probably not, but the truth is I am a complete novice. I’ve had experience with chickens for 4, almost 5 years. Until now I have absolutely never lost one. Not one. Key words: until now.

We ordered chickens online through a big company. We selected a rare breed straight run. We wanted variety and a rooster. It seemed like the best route. Upon receiving our shipment we lost 4 almost right off the bat. More got sick, but we took measures to save them. Even as chicks, until then we had never lost one.

Fast forward to recently. The rest reached maturity and everything seemed to be going well. Until one day one of the roosters we had started acting funny. This is where observation comes in handy. We noticed almost immediately something was wrong. He was still walking around and eating, so we chalked it up to him not feeling well. There were no other symptoms, that we could see, other than he was acting weird. A few days later we put him out of his misery.

Now fast forward to now. We had one of our hens start to act funny and sluggish. I had been running errands all day and I can’t help but think that if I had been home, I would have caught it sooner. She was acting similar to that one rooster, only it seemed to be progressing a lot faster. I took her out and tried to nurse her to health. At this point I think she was too far gone. I held her and pet her. I tried giving her water.

Looking back now, I blame myself. Though maybe I shouldn’t. I can’t help but think, if I could have caught it faster. Gotten her out of there sooner. Force fed her water. Massaged her crop. Taken more drastic measures, she would have made it. She was just too weak to make it through the night.

Life and death happens on the homestead and a lot of homesteaders will tell you, you should get used to it, because it just happens. But, does it mean I should accept it? Because I don’t. This loss was harder for than the rest. I’m sure the bigger the animal the harder the loss. I fear it will only get worse for me.

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