It is 2:35pm on Tuesday and I’m sitting here waiting. I already called the vet and made the appointment for late this afternoon. I know Our Grande Dame Rosie is unwell. I took them out some tuna as a treat and Rosie did not even try to move or show any interest. That is how I usually know the time is nigh. She perked up a little, not enough to eat, but enough to follow the flock down to the dustbathing area, and I had a tiny nugget of hope for a minute there, but she is not dustbathing.
I’m not going to completely stress her out by trying to catch her right this second. Rosie is not into that kind of thing. She keeps her distance from us humans and she expects the same courtesy in return. I have a post scheduled tomorrow where I talk about our fire plan and the one issue with it is trying to catch Rosie. When she is healthy, she is very hard to catch. She is incredibly speedy. And she can fly!
So now I have the luxury of a couple of hours to sit here and think about how much we have loved having her as one of our chooks, and how much she is going to be missed by all of us. Dark Comb has not left her side since I got home from my walk and noticed she seemed off.. We’ll wait till she gets up on the roost this afternoon, it will be less stressful for her.
Sometimes so speedy she was just a blur in the photo.
Rosie was originally named Blackie, when she first arrived here. She also had the nickname of Nugget for a while. I found her at the Goulburn chook auction in July of 2011. She was maybe 6 months to a year old when we first got her. She was a show chicken and her sister was an award winner, but Rosie was deemed unworthy for whatever reason, and I bought her for the expensive price of $10.
Nobody else was bidding on her, and had I not bid my $10 she would have been taken home and culled. Because she came home with me, she had 6 extra years of chicken life and she truly had an excellent chicken life, once she learned how to be a chicken. She was spoiled regularly with treats and her most favourite treat was strawberries cut into little squares.
I believe Rosie had spent her entire life prior to arriving here in a small chicken box, similar to the pens they use at chook auctions. She had no idea how to be a chicken. Here you can see her first experience with grass and learning how to dustbathe. She was always the lowest girl in the pecking order, and after Red Comb was attacked by a hawk, they became great friends.
At one time, because she is quite small, she became our escape chicken. She also flew over the fence as a surprise to herself one Saturday morning when it was a bit windy out. The amount of effort and time it took us to recapture her.. I think if Rosie had not been quite so terrified and upset at finding herself in unfamiliar surroundings, she would have been laughing at us.
She has always been a great friend to the English Game hens, and Dark Comb is the last one left. So I am a little worried about what happens once Rosie is no longer with us, with so few chooks left in the flock now. Though the main reason we did not add any more girls was because I felt Rosie would prefer to live out her years without having to go through another reshuffle of the pecking order. The girls we have left will handle it a lot better, if we chose to add more girls.
Update – Rosie is now with her bestest chook friends in Rainbow Bridge. This was a tough one for us especially when our normal vet was on holidays. Our Grande Dame put on a decent show this afternoon, pretending to peck at the ground like she was eating when the other chooks were about, but she wasn’t picking anything up. When no chooks were looking, she would just stand completely still.
Once we got her to the vet away from the flock, she felt like it was ok to show us exactly how unwell she was feeling and we then knew that we’d made the right decision. We are not sure what caused her to feel this way, more than likely it was just old age and her time. Chooks are not built for long lifetimes.
As I always post when this happens – there are 3 other chickens in the yard for whom life continues. They live minute by minute, sucking the most joy out of each and every moment, whether it is a dirt bath, finding a bug, eating a treat from the humans.. all we can do is love them while they’re here, protect them the best we can from predators, know when it is time to let them go, and remember them when they are gone.
We will miss you, our sweet Grande Dame. We loved our time with you.
Thank you for being such a great chook.