|Stern look from a sweet girl.|
The old adage that only the good die young holds true not just for humanity, but sometimes for poultry as well. I lost my beloved hen Ginger this morning from uterine prolapse. We basically found her in bad shape, with a sudden, advanced case of prolapse we were unable to treat. As I carried her onto the lawn and sent Big Ag inside to grab the shotgun, she passed peacefully in my arms, with a prayer and a kiss from me to carry her home to greener pastures.
Ginger was a ticking time bomb, reproductively speaking, and her death is not as much of a shock as one would think. I pretty much guessed it would end either like this -- with a prolapsed uterus from hatching an egg -- or from infection due to a broken egg inside her.
Ginger was a BIG girl, but her eggs were even bigger -- thin-shelled, duck egg-sized monster eggs which no amount of supplemental calcium could harden up. Due to her oversized eggs, she also occasionally would develop a sore on her bottom from where the sheer weight of those eggs had caused her skin to crack and split, something which I successfully was able to doctor for most of her two-year life.
But if Ginger was a big girl, she was one of those hens who had an even bigger personality -- curious, friendly, and loving interaction with people and being held. She was always the first out of the coop to say hello, and always the first to come running when called, with her big, crazy, velociraptor gait.
There is always life and death on the homestead, and opposite the joy of seeing new life, there is also the sting of losing a beloved animal, a guaranteed producer, and a distinct personality.
The words I whispered to Ginger this morning are the same prayer I say to all my animals when their time comes, as well as those I sometimes see on my morning drive into town who who were hit by a car the night before and are laying dead by the roadside:
"Through the gates of Paradise may the angels lead you."
Whether animal or human, I believe all creatures move on to something better, hopefully with the memory of either being loved and cared for, or of being wild and free. And when our own time comes, I hope we're led by those angels through the gates and into the same peaceful pastures and hillsides. Graze on in those pastures, Ginger, 'till we meet again.