Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I really love my chickens


Well, the jig is up.

After almost three years of living on my little farm, it is clear to me I am not a real farm girl. Don't get me wrong, I still love our little piece of land and everyone and everything on it, but - I just love my chickens too much to be a true farm girl.

Two years, ten months ago I brought home 12 day-old chicks and promptly fell in love:

I was mesmerized with every stage they went through:

and I bonded completely and totally with every one of them:

They were the first critters to make Critter Farm a reality:

Roxy officially became a farm pup upon their arrival:

Not a day has gone by since March 5th 2008 that these funny, little, feathered ninnies haven't made me laugh or smile in some way:

Each one has as big and as individual a personality as my goats, my donkeys or my llama:

Here is Boppity, my Barred Rock hen (left) and Spongebob, my Buff Orpington hen (right). Aren't they gorgeous?:

I know there are many who might not understand how a person could become attached to a chicken, but allow me be one to attest to the power of a chicken personality:

And so, it is with a heavy animal-lovin' heart that I write that I buried my sweet Boppity...six weeks ago.
Yes, it has taken me this long to feel like writing about it. I miss her so much:

I noticed her ailing the morning of December 1st and by the afternoon, I brought her into the house to see if I could get her to eat a bit of yogurt and vitamin water:

I've had under-the-weather hens before and a night or two in a dog crate in the warm house with some undivided attention from me has always set things right:

But not this time.

My friends and chicken experts, Tonya and Kao, insisted on coming out to the farm when I called to tell them Boppity wasn't well.

Sadly, the looks on their faces when they saw her - and then the words they spoke - made it very clear to me that this wasn't the normal kind of ailing.
They believed she had had some kind of neurological event - a stroke - and was not going to pull out of it.

She died moments later in my arms. As horrible as it was, I felt so very lucky to have my friends by my side:

The next evening, we found a spot in the pasture below where she used to free-range:

and my son, Aidan, helped me bury her:

I really, really loved this bird. She was gorgeous from the front:

and the back:

She was a chicken who made eye contact. I liked that a lot:

and she was always one of the first to do the "scary stuff":

Throughout Bopp's illness and death, I expected to have at least one person say "aw, c'mon, she's just a chicken," but I never did. Experiencing Tonya and Kao's kindness (and their intense sadness for me) was a tribute to the power these birds can have on us.

Friends of mine, Scott and Carol, sent me some amazingly pretty flowers a few days later because they knew I was feeling sad. Such a loving gesture:

So, I guess, while there are people who wouldn't understand the attachment one can form to a chicken, there are other kind souls who really do.

45 comments:

  1. What a beautiful little creature she was. I am grateful that I got to know her and totally understand how sad you were.
    You will never be a 'true' farm girl, and that, I believe, is wonderful!

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  2. I'm sorry you lost your sweet Bopp. I have a bunch of girls myself that I got last May and they are so entertaining. They all come running when I call and brighten each and every day. I'm sure she felt your comfort and love just as you felt hers.

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  3. Sorry to hear of your loss, but hold strong to the fact that you've got some great friends.

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  4. Oh Danni poor Boppity, and really it makes you more of a farm girl, as true farmers do care about all their livestock great and small. And your chooks are productive, and in the farming world that's what matters. Love Spongebob's name, reminds me of a heifer calf we raised a long time ago, her name was Sherman.
    LiBBiE in Oz

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  5. Oh Danni. I am so very, very sorry. I'm sitting here with tears running down my face, wishing I could find words ...... I'm just so sorry.

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  6. Danni,
    I, too, have gotten attached to my hens. They each do have a personality. It's an amazing thing. I wish I could spend more time with them. I like to go out and sit in the coop with them. They take turns sitting on my lap. They make me laugh, make me forget about all the issues and concerns in life. It's all very simple and wonderful to spend time with chickens. I wish everyone could experience such joy.

    ~Lynn

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  7. Thank you for the wonderful memorial on Boppity Danni. It's so difficult when we love our "babies" and lose them. You are just such a good "mom" to them all. I jumped in here at that time when the girls were just brought home and seeing all the photos brought back so many memories. You've given such inspriation to so many, and look what a wonderful Chicken Mom Julie has become, and I know you were such a big part of that. I sure miss having my "kids" and would love to keep some girls of my own. Maybe someday...have to be able to get their home set up first. We're thinking of you, even if it's been some time, obviously you still have a place in your heart that hurts.
    Lot's of XX's and OO's heading your way.

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  8. I am sorry Danni. It doesnt matter what the species is, when there is a bong the loss is great. Hugs to you. Fly free Boppity, may there be lots of goodies to peck, warm scratch and a wonderful perch for your rest.

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  9. Oh, I hurt for you! :(

    I know that kind of love too.

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  10. OH! I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I am also very sorry to hear how sad you are.
    She knows you love her and she is now watching over you!!

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  11. Thanks for sharing this sad moment in your life with us. I am truly sorry for your loss of Bippity.

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  12. Jenny In MN (now in AZ)January 19, 2011 at 5:24 AM

    Sorry for your loss. Beautiful pictures and a touching story. It is obvious all of your animals get to experience true compassion and love. They are all very lucky!

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  13. oh..i am so sorry to hear this! i totally understand how you must be feeling. i had two ducks and a rooster when i was young and i loved them as much as i love any of my pets. feel better soon!

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  14. Chickens are lovely entertainment with benefits (they eat bugs and lay eggs).
    Anyone who thinks they are "just chickens" has never met a chicken. I'm so glad no one said that to you after Boppity died. The flowers are lovely.

    I have cried with the death of every single one of my chickens.
    RIP, Bopp.

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  15. I love my chickens too and I grieve each time I lose one. I never imagined even liking chickens, let alone having such fun spending time around them. It's nice you have special friends who understand.

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  16. i'm sorry about your little boppity, she was a cute hen.

    i totally know how you feel about your chickens. they do have big personalities and are so much fun to have around. i'm very grateful that we can have them in the city...the benefits of their scratching, bug picking ways has been a huge boon to the garden.

    plus there is nothing like a fresh egg when you know exactly where it came from and who laid it.

    i've really enjoyed all of your posts thus far; hope you have the energy to keep it up!

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  17. I understand 100%. She looks like my Sammie and I would be heartbroken to lose her. She loves to sit in my lap and be petted. This was a great tribute post for your Boppity

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  18. I totally understand what you mean about the funny personalities that chickens can have. We've had chickens now for 2 years come April and we're enjoying them way more than I ever thought we would! Last winter, a mink snuck into the coop, killing one of our hens and injuring "Grandma" bad enough that we had to put the poor thing out of her misery. We named her that because of the way she'd follow all the rest of the chickens around "scolding" them (at least that's what it sounded like!). She was such a sweet hen and she's still missed...even a year later! That's great that you have such caring friends that understand your sadness. BTW, I'm so glad to see you writing every day ~ I always love all of your chicken/donkey/llama stories! I'll miss the pictures and stories of sweet Boppity! :-(
    Southern MN Gal

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  19. I'm in tears. I'm so very sorry, Danni. What a gorgeous girl she was. I can only imagine the antics she got up to and how her roost mates will miss her bravery and leadership. Thank you for letting us know. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxooxoxoxoxoxoxxoxo

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  20. Totally understand. One of our neighbor's chickens was sick. No feathers on tush. We thought she was egg bound. Vet (visit probably cost more than the chicken cost) was amused, diagnosed bad moult! We now laugh about it but it was a real concern.
    Chickens are living things and often beloved family members, so of course to mourn their passing is very normal.

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  21. I can understand that kind of attachment...her name is Ramona the Brave.
    I'm so sorry Danni.

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  22. Honey I am so so sorry for your loss. I can completely relate to your feelings. I love my chickens so much that they live in cages in my house until we find our own critter farm (we made an offer on a place yesterday!). Mine are tiny little Seramas and I can completely agree with you about the individual personalities, etc. They are truly a gem and a gift to own. You can read about my house chicken adventures on my blog, if you like. :-)

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  23. I'm sorry about Boppity and hope that you'll come back to thinking of yourself as a farm girl. It's okay to become attached, and okay to miss them when they're gone.

    I'm hoping I don't develop an attachment to my chickens, once I get them, but you never know. Better to care than not, don't you think?

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  24. She was a beautiful girl with such personality! I think its totally possible to have an interactive bonding relationship with lots of different types of animals, even chickens!

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  25. I think any animal in our care that brings us joy and love no matter if it's a beloved dog, cat, horse, mouse and yes, even a chicken...how can they not break our hearts when they're gone? If they don't...then one doesn't have much of a heart to break.
    This brought tears to my eyes knowing how much you loved your little Boppity..I'm so sorry..she was a lucky chicken girl to have had you taking such good care of her all her life!! :)

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  26. Aww, I'm so sorry about your loss of Boppity. :-/ No matter what animal, we love them and miss them when they're gone.

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  27. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I cried for hours when my favorite hen, Lucy, died. I couldn’t even talk about it for weeks. But a good friend reminded me of the wonderful life I had given her in my backyard. This reminded me of all of the crazy places that she would insist on laying her eggs! You gave her a wonderful life. She was much loved.

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  28. I'm sorry for your loss! I'm a critter lover too and it can be quite sorrowful. I'm so glad you had friends with you to help support you and just feel the grief with you.

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  29. Although I don't have chicken pets I do understand the loss of a pet. I'm so sorry you lost your buddy. {{hugs}} Ann in WI

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  30. I know how you feel and I am so sorry you had to go through this. Everyone I know just laughs when I cry for a chicken, but it is on the computer that I find people that can help.

    ~~Matt~~

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  31. Im sorry for your loss, we really know your pain. We love our chickens too and have lost a few chickens that were special to us. Including a barred rock that was the best! She got attacked by a dog and we had to put her down at the vet. Looking back, I'm glad to have experienced that special gift of a relationship that she gave us.

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  32. Oh, how devastating. I am so sorry! I can very much relate to not feeling up to posting about this right away. I confess that I've gone out of my way not to bond with any of our chickens, but there are several, especially our rooster, that I'm attached to anyway. You did such an excellent job taking care of Boppity. Big hugs to you.

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  33. Like you, I was totally unprepared for how much I would love my chickens. They each have such unique personalities and are endlessly entertaining. I am sorry that you lost your beloved Boppity. At least she died in a snug, warm, safe and loving environment. That's more than most chickens could even dream of.

    I too have shed tears and mourned over lost chickens. They are just as capable as any other animal of working their way into our hearts.

    Happy memories of Boppity!

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  34. Aw. I am so sorry.

    It is always hard to lose a friend. Of course you should have flowers.

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  35. Danni, if it wasn't for you, I probably wouldn't have gotten any chickens! I was so impressed with yours, the hen house, your love for them, well, that is what I needed to get my own. And you are so right. Chickens are amazing! I cannot imagine life without chickens or donkeys!
    So my friend, thank you.
    You are one of the best animal mama's I know!

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  36. So sorry for your loss. I imagine she was a happy hen throughout her life because your provided her such a lovely home.

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  37. Oh Danni~ I am so sorry to hear your sad news. "Boppity" was a very regal, beautiful gal and how very lucky she was to have you for her chicken "momma". I adore my chickens and quite frankly cannot imagine my life without them now. Lets face it, there are chicken people and then those that aren't. We are the fortunate ones, we have experienced first hand the joy, endless entertainment and laughter that only a chicken can provide. Thinking of you and sending blessings from snowy Maine, Julie.

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  38. that's the hardest part about taking care of our critter friends....having to let them go. I'm sorry for your loss and glad you shared it. I always find that helps with the sadness. And what a good friend to send flowers! As someone else said.... you deserve them...

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  39. I am so, so sorry Danni. Much love. She was beautiful.

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  40. I understand. I still miss my sweet Calendula. She was an amazing chicken. I have to admit I haven't gotten close to any since her.

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  41. Animals are souls that connect with our hearts if we let them, and you have done that very well,Danni. You are a good "chicken mama" and Boppity was a sweet bird. I know how heavy your heart must be. She is likely still with you in Spirit. She had a good home there with you.

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  42. Danni, I am so sorry about Boppity. We lost our barred rock, Poppy, on December 13 also from a neurological event. She was everything you say your Boppity was and I miss her terribly. Chickens are wonderful creatures and I feel blessed to have mine in my life. You are in my thoughts.

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