For a few days over a year now, we’ve been enjoying fresh home-laid eggs, taken from our four chickens. Up until now the cost of our eggs has been counted in cash terms: non-GM organic foodstuffs, hen run build and maintenance. Today the costs were counted differently.
One of our girls, Spike [yeah, I know], went lame in one leg last summer. The vet told us she was in no distress but that her leg was withering and was unlikely to recover. He offered to put her to sleep, but we said that until she was in discomfort, until she could not manage, she would have her life. The best possible. At that time I also committed to sending her on myself – there are responsibilities in all things, and this was mine.
When I got back from a weekends sailing this afternoon, it was clear that she was very unwell and had been so all weekend; unable to support her weight on her remaining leg, and making feeble attempts to move using her wings. Although she appeared alert and still in no pain, it was clear that she was at the terminal end of her comfort zone, unable to escape her own faeces and unable to reach food. I know it was the right time for her to go, and I’m happy I managed it cleanly and without pain. But it was hard.
She was only a chicken. A food bird. A soul-less creature for Man’s dominion. Bred to lay eggs and be eaten. To impose an intelligent character on a chicken is irrational. So some folk might tell me. Stuff ’em. [pun definitely intended]
Journey well, Spike.