Sunday, February 21, 2016


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.


  1. I'm sorry your hen had to leave this earth. We are always sad when our chickens leave, and of course it's worse with some that we enjoy more than others. We are winding down our chicken days after 7 or 8 years. It will seem very quiet when we have no more, but for now we are once again getting 1-3 eggs per day. Our oldest hen is 7, our rooster is 7, and there is still a lot of life in our dwindling flock. RIP Ginger.

    1. Thank you Denise. I did not know you had chickens too! I've always wondered how long they keep laying, our oldest hen is only four, but if yours are seven and still producing eggs that will be great!

  2. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of Ginger. It is always hard to lose a beloved animal. I have never had chickens, but I've had dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, turtles and fish. And it was hard losing each one of them.

    Ginger was one very lucky hen having lived with you. Be comforted knowing she had the best of lives in your loving hands. I hope someday you'll meet again, as I hope to meet my beloved animals too.

    1. Thanks, Molly, it really is. Losing a chicken is not nearly as bad as it feels to lose a dog or other "house" pet, but Ginger was one of my favorites. I do think she had a good life though, you are right, and like you I also believe we meet everyone again -- animal and human -- on the "other side."

  3. I'm so sorry about Ginger, the movie star. A dying bird is a horrible sight and I'm glad that she went out knowing she was special.
    If you're feeling a little low, you might enjoy a new (to me) blog I found about a week ago. JZ lives about 2 hours south of me and has an incredible property and true love for animals, especially birds. I think I'm going to go to her book signing in April as its only a few minutes down the road!
    Can you grow ginger there? It's one of my favorite, favorite plants of the South and would be the first purchase I made if I had a greenhouse. Perhaps you could plant a little ginger patch in her honor!