Bittersweet Conclusions – Down on the (Sub)Urban Farm

If I thought that my last post was going to be my most frustrating experience for January… I was so wrong.

I’ve been a bit silent, both on social media and here on the blog, because last week was really rough.

A week ago Sunday, we finished the new coop. We got the chickens moved over that night, and while they seemed a bit off-kilter from the move itself, everyone seemed to be doing fine on Monday.

On Tuesday morning, I went out to feed the chickens to find Ned, our rooster, dead on the coop floor.

It was more than a little unexpected.

He was maybe three years old, probably more like 2 1/2, and there had been no indication of anything being wrong before that. He was eating and drinking as normal on Monday, and the only slight indication of anything being wrong that I can look back and see (after hours of wracking my memories) is that he may have been acting a bit sluggish on Monday. But I attributed that to the unseasonably warm weather we were having that day, and I don’t know that I would have done anything different even knowing he was acting sluggish, because it was WARM. Like, shorts-weather warm.

Tuesday was spent awaiting necropsy (this is what an animal autopsy is called for those of you who don’t know) results between bouts of crying and obsessively checking on the hens, because I had no idea if what had evidently killed him overnight might be contagious.

A little before noon, I found out what caused Ned’s demise – he’d developed an abdominal infection (most likely bacterial) that caused internal hemorrhaging overnight. Since we’d seen practically zero signs that Ned was ill… there was very little we could have done.

The good news was that the vet assured me it was likely not going to pass to the hens, and that we didn’t need to worry about having tissue samples sent off to the lab for further analysis unless we were curious about which bacteria it was, and that could be like hunting for a needle in a haystack.

There was also not room in the budget for the cost of tissue sample analysis ($120ish), especially after the completely unexpected expense for the necropsy ($80).

I’ve still been somewhat obsessively checking on the girls, but everyone is acting their normal selves, especially after a couple of days. The first day or so after Ned’s demise, they were acting like things were ‘off’, but not ill, fortunately.

Now, nearly a week later, egg production is still steady, and the girls are talkative again.

But it’s still so quiet out there without Ned crowing for his ‘kangaroo’. Because seriously, that’s what he sounded like when he crowed. Like he was asking for a kangaroo.

Eventually, I will have pictures up of the new coop. But I just haven’t felt like going out there and taking pictures yet, because it seems incomplete without Ned.

Ned is on the right. RIP, Ned.
Ned is on the right. RIP, Ned.

Recent Comments

  • Candace Gauger
    January 27, 2015 - 12:11 am · Reply

    He was quite the handsome rooster and very colorful. Sorry to hear he’s gone, though. I can imagine how the hens feel.

    One quick question about the hens. What breeds are they? They aren’t all variations of the same breed are they? Okay, two questions. XP

    • Rebekah Loper
      January 27, 2015 - 7:38 am · Reply

      Polly, the white hen, is a Rhode Island White. The rest of the hens are sex-link, which means their gender is identified by the color of their feathers. To achieve that, they are cross-breed chickens. The red hens are all half Rhode Island Red and half who-knows. The black hen, we don’t know what cross breeds she is.

    • Rebekah Loper
      January 29, 2015 - 1:00 pm · Reply

      Thanks! I am quite relieved that the hens are all fine. We’re over a week out from Ned’s passing now, and I don’t feel the need to check on them five times a day anymore. >_<

  • Maria Zannini
    January 28, 2015 - 4:48 am · Reply

    I know you feel badly about Ned, and you needed to know what killed him, but after a while, the best you can do is make an educated guess and let it go.

    Unless I suspect a contagion, I just bury my bird. I’ve had one that was probably egg-bound and another that might’ve been snake bit. Aside from chick mortality (where I suspected scorpions) we’ve had relatively few deaths in 30 years. Vets are very expensive even for the least little thing so you have to choose your battles.

    The important thing is at least you know it wasn’t catchy.

    • Rebekah Loper
      January 29, 2015 - 1:06 pm · Reply

      The first flock death is probably the most nerve-wracking, and Ned was ours. I think it was even more so because I hadn’t been as observant about them the couple days beforehand as I usually am with all the chickens, so I felt like there was a lot I should have seen and didn’t, even though I know that I likely wouldn’t have noticed Ned himself feeling off. But I may not have been as concerned about the hens if I’d been more observant. I really need to start keeping some records for all of them of some sort. >_<

What do you think?

About Rebekah

Rebekah Loper writes character-driven epic fantasy featuring resilient women in trying and impossible circumstances who just want to save themselves but usually end up saving the world, often while falling in love.
She lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband, dog, two formerly feral cats, a small flock of feathered dragons (...chickens. They're chickens), and an extensive tea collection. When she's not writing, she battles the Oklahoma elements in an effort to create a productive, permaculture urban homestead.