Well, we have lost another one.
This time it was our flock's
Head Hen, a lovely Silver Laced Wyandotte with the clunky and graceless
name of Wild Child. She gained that name nearly ten years ago when we
brought her and her two sisters home from the feed store. Then they
were tiny, day and a half old baby chicks with their egg tooth still
attached. For those that don't know, on birds the egg tooth is the
small, hard tip of their beaks that assists them in breaking out of
their shells when they hatch. It falls off within the first three days
The reason she was named Wild Child was because we had given the three chicks temporary names to help us tell
the new arrivals apart from each other. We figured that we would come
up with real names for the chicks shortly. 'Wild Child' was what we
called her since she was a very boisterous chick, running around and
jumping on her sisters' heads when they weren't looking.
Unfortunately for her, the name stuck. So Wild Child she became for good and all.
Child naturally took on the position of Head Hen--she can peck everyone
else but no one pecks her, she is leader of the flock. She is the one
in my previous posts that climbed up on top of the coop, couldn't get
down and had to call us out in the yard to rescue her. She was the one
who would call out and alert us to trouble in the yard.
before yesterday we noticed that Wild Child was refusing food and simply
standing, eyes closed, in the shade under her favorite bush. Yesterday
was the same, so we knew that something was up and strongly suspected
that she was making her exit. She wasn't sick, just old.
brought her into the house around 3PM and offered her a small dish of
goodies, which she looked at but politely shook her head, refusing. Now
when a chicken won't eat, something is wrong. Her body temperature had
also fallen. I wrapped her in a bath towel and sat with her on my lap
for the next 5 1/2 hours, gently stroking her head and talking to her as
she slept. I had mixed up a small amount of baby bird handfeeding
formula with some other things, and this I gave her with an eyedropper
every 45 minutes to keep her comfortable and hydrated. Around 7PM I had
gotten up to stretch my legs and as I walked by the back door, I
noticed that every single chicken of our flock had crammed
themselves up onto the back porch, something they had never done. Jack, our Head Roo, was in front, looking at me and waiting. I
knew what they wanted and opened the back door so that they could come
in and visit Wild Child, which they did quietly and one at a time before
filing out again.
Over the final several hours Wild Child got quieter
and quieter and we knew the time was near. Finally it was 8PM and my
daughter's bedtime. She gently petted Wild Child and told her goodnight
Not two minutes later Wild Child gave a single flap of her wings and died.
miss her. Today the other chickens are wandering about looking lost, Jack is especially distressed.
She would have been 10 years old this coming April and was the
cornerstone, guardian, mother, flock representative, disciplinarian and
matriarch of the flock. She led the group out of the coop in the
morning and called them to roost in the evening.
When you have a
pet for that many years they are a member of your family, no matter
what kind of animal they are. They become as much a part as your
personality and entangled in your family history as any other member of
Our most affectionate farewell to Wild Child.