Poppy, our pretty silver-laced Wyandotte died today. I’m not terribly distraught because she died of what I believe is old age. I found her under the roost. She was paralyzed on one side of her body. No blood. No broken bones. Just laying with her wings spread out. I put her in a cage in the garden shed with food and water. She ate a little. But in the morning she was gone.
The hens are approaching 5 years of age. Their toes are twisted and they look to have arthritis. They no longer lay eggs but I don’t have the heart to get rid of them. I’m down to two hens now, Daisy and Sweetpea. Both have been through much more than Poppy. Daisy has been sick twice and Sweetpea was attacked by a dog. They both survived their mishaps and are still strutting through the garden, taking dust baths, and running to me when I have a treat in my hand or call “chick, chick, chick”.
What to do with old hens is a dilemma that we, who have pet chickens, find ourselves in. We can’t keep building on to our coops to house new “young chicks” who only lay a few years, then retire. Most of us don’t have room in our backyards.
Perhaps we need to lobby for a breed that will lay and live longer. Is it possible? They certainly have developed chickens that lay more eggs than ever thought possible.
I will miss Poppy. She was a level-headed survivor. When a hawk would fly over, Poppy was the first to sound the alarm and run for cover. She loved to free-range, scratching deep under the artichoke leaves. She was not as tame as Daisy and Sweetpea and did not appreciate me picking her up. She was a bit of a “wild thing” but oh so beautiful. I don’t think I’ll get another Wyandotte. I had trouble with both of my Wyandotte girls. The golden Wyandotte was “mean girl” (story here) and I had to rehome her, and Poppy was a “wild child” (see story) and I had to separate her when she was young. But, none-the-less. Poppy was one of the original six and her passing marks time in my own life.