I've been mulling over my conflicted feelings for Farmer Dan. Last week, I asked him to mercy-kill ol' Crossbill, my deformed chicken who has a twisted beak and a badly infected eye. I couldn't stand watching her slowly starve to death. And when I saw my favorite old hen, Diva, pecking at her oozing eyeball, I decided that enough was enough and ol' Crossbill would be better off in the Great Coop in the Sky. I said goodbye and thanks to her as I dropped her off in a cat crate at Farmers Dan's house.
A few days ago, while at his house for dinner, I learned that instead of putting ol' Crossbill out of her misery, Farmer Dan decided that she wasn't that bad off and plopped her in with his flock. I am pretty peeved at him for letting ol' Crossbill linger longer, compounded by the anxiety of being in an unfamiliar flock. But there is not much I can do about it.
Except learn to kill my own chickens.
And that's where I get stuck, contemplating a palpable way of killing a sick hen. I've been in the situation before (twice in the last month, including the bobcat-mutilated hen) and I just haven't figured out how to do it in a way that I am capable of. (No, I can't chop off their heads.) I'm working on getting used to the idea of drowning a chicken, but it's a high hurdle for me.
So while you city folk are out there going through your neat and tidy days in the temperature-regulated, sterile, wall-to-wall padded maze, there are other people out here in the cold, windy world with the grime of guilt on their paltry poultry souls getting paid zilch to fail at killing a chicken.
This is a picture of Mama Hen and her chick, who grew up to be a naughty rooster, one of the three chickens I have had to ask Farmer Dan to rid us of. Despite their comic appearance and peaceful demeanor, chicken rearing is not for sissies.
[Note to readers: A version of this update originated in an email to a friend. As I'm pretty sure my friend is too busy in a cube-like world to peruse my blog, nevertheless I beg forgiveness from cyber-space for the redundancy. There are only so many hours in a day, ya' know? The above-mentioned friend suggested this "euthanasia bag." But if I use it, how can I ever look at a model volcano at a science fair with joy and geeky abandon again?]
[One more note: I am honored to count "Farmer" Dan among my friends. He is one of my favorite people. He also is an incredibly intelligent man, and probably one of the best farmers in the world. (I'm not even exaggerating there.) So although I was a tad peeved at him for not killing my chicken, I still love him dearly.]