|Three chicks out and one to go|
Once again we have baby chicks. When these hens get broody, they go off and hide somewhere to sit on their eggs. I was beginning to think that something was eating our chickens until one hen showed up with four chicks and another showed up a few days later with one chick. I don't know what we will do with them.
This reminded me of an old article that I wrote a few years ago but never got posted, so I pulled it out, dusted it off, and here it is:
I know I'm being hypocritical because I eat chicken. Lots of it, though I prefer boneless breasts because that smooth slab of meat doesn't remind me quite so much of my pets as a raw whole chicken does. I've recognized the similarity when I pick up one of my pet chickens. Hmm, here's the thigh, here's the wing, and, yes, that neck feels just like the one that comes in a plastic bag in the frozen chicken's gut.
While I was showing El Jefe old-wives' tale methods of determining the sex of baby chicks, I realized how pointless that was, except out of curiosity. What was I going to do if they were all roosters? Wring their necks? Hah! That would be the day. I would just try to find homes for them.
Pancho who lived in a laundry basket in our closet for a couple of weeks until he could walk again. In one case, I keep a hen in a cardboard box in my studio for seven months.
She became weak, was falling over, and couldn't stand up. I researched her symptoms and decided that she had Marek's, a very common disease among chickens. There is no treatment for it. Chickens usually either develop a natural immunity or die from it or. I had to feed her by hand for a couple of weeks and eventually she got stronger. She could stand and walk again, though not as strongly as a normal bird. But she was also blinded by the disease.
Blind chickens don't fare too well in food hunting so I continued to keep her and feed and water her in the box. I had to teach her how to find her food bowls. I hoped that as she recovered more fully, her vision would come back, but it was not to be. After a few weeks, I began to put her outside the studio window where she would spend her days. She would get around a little and peck a little bit. She seemed content to be outside, though occasionally the dogs would give her a hard time and I'd have to go out to rescue her. The other chickens ignored her and didn't bother her as sometimes happens with a weak animal.
Except for being blind and more dependent upon me than most chickens are, she seemed content with her life. She ate with gusto and let me know when she wanted more or was irritated by anything else.
Thankfully, El Jefe understood my feelings, though it was kind of embarrassing to explain to visitors who noticed a chicken in a box in the studio. Gringos would understand. Hondureños, not so much. Finally after about seven months, Carmen started to decline and lost interest in eating. A few days later, Carmen flew up to chicken heaven.
I suppose it was silly and pointless to continue to care for her so long. There just wasn't anything else I could do. If she had seemed to be in pain or lacked interest in food or life, I still couldn't have killed her myself but I might have asked someone else to do it. I think she was satisfied to be a house chicken for her last months.
For more chicken stories and lots of chicken videos, see the Chicken topic.