The Grim Reaper

Large Maran with her single chick

Large Maran with her single chick

Why is it that spring is always (here at least) the time for a clean out of stock. Birds suddenly die on you, just as the weather starts to improve, hitherto stalwarts of the flock peg it! Lost two more birds recently, one large maran lady, who it has to be said had been looking fine apart from her dark comb, collapsed in the run right next to her friend, another large maran. These two went everywhere together, they lied in the sun together, they appeared at the garage door together (the garage door was the recognised ‘titbits’ area) and they ended their day, everyday, sleeping together, side by side on the floor of the coop. A dark or purple comb on a fowl is a recognised sign of heart problems, so I guess she had a heart attack.

The picture above shows her as a mother. The chick with her was the only one to hatch from a clutch of around 12. Unbeknown to us, she had been sitting on these eggs for getting on for three weeks solid, away from the coop, out in the open all day and all night. Having found her sitting on the dozen or so eggs, we decided to move her together with the eggs to suitable broody coop. We first candled the eggs. Big mistake, most were clear, one was very rotten as we found out (the hard way), what an almighty stink! In the end we found only three that were hopefuls. At the very end, only one did hatch. She was so devoted to this chick, she took it on tours of the garden. we reckon she was just showing off. She was 5 yrs old when she handed in her grain bucket.

The other bird passed away this morning in the flock’s weather shed or shelter. For days her comb looked almost translucent, a probable sign of anemia. I did give her some nutri-drops in the vain hope of a miracle, but none came and this morning she was found quite dead. Rigor mortis had already set in by the time I found her. I sometimes wonder what the other birds passing by a clearly dead hen think. She was a common hybrid brown layer, but she lived life to the full as all our birds do, no regrets, no unfullfilled desires, her time had come and she just accepted it.

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