For Runty

My wife and I got chickens recently.

It’s been interesting. I didn’t really care to own them. I wanted the eggs, and my wife committed to all of the cleaning and care. I just had to build all the stuff and I love that shit so we got chickens.

We got 6 chickens. It’s because they say you should expect to lose 20% and 1 in 9 might be sexed wrong and we wanted 4 or  5, so we got 6. The weird urban farm store owner(the store is weird, not the owner; he’s really nice) confirmed this. So we brought 6 tiny chirping things home. We have committed to not naming them until they are survived, and it’s not like i could tell them apart at all anyways.

There was one though. She was smaller. She was weaker. She couldn’t jump on the little wooden obstacle i made for them to learn to roost. We always knew her. She was tiny and she even looked weird. Something was even wrong with that little thing on her head(it’s called a comb). I didn’t really have any attachment to the birds. They just occupied space in my garage and basement which was a little frustrating to me and they smelled and they kick up like a shit ton of dust all the time. I liked Runty though.

1 week in and there’s a crisis. At 4 in the morning the birds are all making a ton of noise. It’s weird how their calls change according to their mood. It’s like they’re yelling and panicking. I go in to the laundry room and the red heat lamp is out. When you get baby chicks you’re supposed to keep them at 90+ degrees for a few weeks and they were suddenly sitting at about 65 in my basement. They were all bouncing around freaking out. All except for one who’s laying there, collapsed forward and looking like shit. My wife and I don’t know what to do, but I’m certain there’s nothing I can’t fix so i pick her up and start cupping her in my hands and blowing as much heat on her as I could. My wife gets a tiny syringe and starts force feeding her water and she starts to perk up. She opens her eyes and she’s chirping every once in awhile. I find another flood light bulb and screw it in to get the heat up and I go to home depot when it opens at 6am and buy the special bulb and then I build a weird little stand and everything’s back to normal before I go to work at 715. Runty was weird for the rest of the day but she was back.

Well weeks go by and the chickens are getting bigger but Runty is still different.. she stands really weird. Instead of chirping she has a weird kind of honk, like a stupid goose. I finish building the coop and we’re getting ready to move the birds outside and I can’t wait to get them out of my fucking house and my wife is taking them out once in awhile to acclimate them so they’re walking around the yard. When Runty is out, we immediately notice something. She walks really weird.  One leg crosses the other and goes backwards. She is not graceful or nimble in the least. She looks awful.

My wife has been reading about chicken ownership for the last decade so she is ready for the brutal situations and she starts to talk about how we’re going to have to put her down and I’m really upset about this. Why can’t we just let her live out her existence? My wife says she’s probably in a lot of pain. I insist that she calls the shop and this and that. Of course we’re not going to take her to the vet because she cost $2.99 but I’m looking for anything we can do.

I make Sarah return her to her brood box so she can’t move as much and she can maybe rest it for a couple of days. Doesn’t help. I google all kinds of shit and find that some people have fixed an ailment called splayed leg that looks really familiar. There’s nothing I can’t fix so I follow the instructions and make a weird kind of chicken splint. It’s like a tiny pair of bird handcuffs. She can’t handle it and it’s not helping.

We return her to the coop and run because if she’s going to go, I want her to have a healthy few days with her friends. It’s sunny and she’s out and she can feed herself and get water just fine. I’m starting to think we just leave her. Everything we read said that if the injury is serious the bird won’t be able to feed herself and they pass that way and that’s not going to happen. Again, my wife the chicken student tells me that the others will pick on her and kill her if they recognize her as injured. Well that’s not happening so I am thinking we’re good.

As soon as I can think that sentence, we start to see it. Every time we look and another chicken is going after her. We talked to a friend and he confirmed that we should kill her and that we shouldn’t let the chickens do it because it’s nasty and it will be way worse and take a long time and be painful. He also gave us some tips for how to do it.

Sarah and I let this go for a few days because we’re really busy and i’m really upset about this bird. And i wasn’t going to take care of these chickens!? and now i have to kill one!? and who is going to do what?! ….and I couldn’t fix it…

So we killed a chicken tonight.

Stupid fucking bird.

I hope she gets to come back as somebody’s dog.

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