Monday, December 21, 2009
A Death in the Family (Warning: Graphic Images)
Friday afternoon when it was time to put the chickens away, all three of them were missing. It was about an hour until dark and we were clueless. We figured that they had gotten spooked and all gone up as high as possible. Eventually we found Pepper way up in a tree and got her down and into the coop. We searched all over and in the neighbor's yard but couldn't find Naked Neck or Big Mama. Not good. With the light fading we called off our search and decided to look for them in the morning.
When morning came around Naked Neck had returned and was wandering around the back yard like her normal skittish self. Big Mama was missing. That is, until I found her body, or what was left of it near the edge our lot. A wild animal, likely a raccoon, had helped itself to our chicken's flesh.
A couple months ago when Big Mama started to molt, she stopped laying. It was at this time that I jokingly suggested using her for soup. One of my roommates would have none of it so I dropped it.
This represented a problem for me though. Many animals are abused to provide us with meat, milk and eggs. Having our own chickens has meant that we get to enjoy their eggs, and in return we give them a pretty good life. The depressing alternative is usually to live in very cramped quarters, maybe have their beaks removed, and be pumped full of drugs so they provide the materials for our omelets and eggnog. But what's the right thing to do when they stop producing? A petting zoo isn't really the most sensible solution. In this case something else took care of the problem.
And so the raccoons tore Big Mama apart and we heard nothing from inside the house. I could have given her a better death, and I might have used all the parts. Instead I buried the gutted and headless carcass next to the catnip.
Maybe the chickens were spooked into the trees and were hoping to wait out the danger until the morning. Or maybe they just decided to call it a night early and fly up into the tree for no particular reason. If so, it was a deadly mistake.
I'm sorry Big Mama, you didn't deserve this.