Monday, October 12, 2009

Big Mama

My husband misses General Mills so much that my daughter and I put a picture of him in a frame and sign it: Dear Jim, I really miss you, too. Love, General Mills.

Big Mama is a black Cochin with feathers on her legs. She is large and in charge and has no problem stepping up to the plate to lead this flock.

And now, blending past and future tenses, I will tell you the full story of Big Mama.

The flock was doing fine. Big Mama made sure each chicken knew where they stood - usually with just the stamp of a foot. It is around this time I noticed that she has an eye that is looking infected. I put neosporin on it every day, but it isn't enough. Soon, her eye is completely closed and she is shaking her head frequently.

One Saturday, I grab Big Mama and am walking around the neighborhood with her tucked under my arm. I ask Joan, who says she looks fine. I ask Mike, who grew up on a farm with chickens, if she looks ill. No - her feathers are fine. She's big and fat and just has an eye infection. Jim agrees.

So, I put Big Mama back with her flock. But two days later, Big Mama completely tanks. She is really, really ill. After frantically trying to figure out how to ring a chicken's neck, then realizing that I just can't bring myself to do it, I find a vet who will help put her down. It's the only humane thing I can do for her. I am crying all the way to the vet, and I can hear Big Mama in the box, shaking her head and trying to make sense of what's going on.

This is my first emergency with the chickens. I am so upset that I let it get to this for Big Mama. It's not till two weeks later that I finally put two and two together: I see a small gang of squirrels enter the run, and I see all the chickens run inside the coop. I am sure that Big Mama would not have stood for having squirrels in her run, and tried to scare them out.

I think Big Mama took one for the team.

I miss that mean old bird.

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