Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Good bye, dear Henrietta

{I have and continue to be in the midst of three animal crises. One resolved itself today, the other two are ongoing}

It has been a whirlwind in the past two days. I am not sure how much to unload on you all at once, but since things come in waves-the good, the bad, the ugly, the real–I guess you are all aware that life happens, and we're not always being at the steering wheel.

I have been dealing with multiple animal issues in the past two days. Henrietta and I were working hard to get her through a very severe prolapse, but it became clear that what was right for her was a humane exit to peace. I had been cleaning her 3-4x a day, applying witch hazel and hemorrhoid creme to try to reduce her swelling, and keeping her separate from the flock so she wouldn't be pecked [chickens are carnivores [ a reason vegetarian chicken feed is rather ridiculous]–when a chicken sees blood, they go for it. When I found her prolapsed, she had been pecked, or cut, and was bleeding. Even if the prolapse had retreated, her chances weren't great.

The way Henrietta came to Apifera is a sweet story–I was standing waiting in line at my local feed store, minding my own business, and a gentleman in a suit [a strange site] walked in with a box...and a chicken. He had promised his little girl he would find it a good home, versus the alternative, and there I was, charmed by Henrietta. I often thought of that little girl, knowing she must have carried that comfort with her for some time, that her chicken went home to a nice farm.

There are many ways to kill a chicken. I considered them. But I had my equine vet arriving this morning–for one of the other issues which I'll explain in a second. I was also comforted that my vet didn't flinch and said I was doing the right thing. Henrietta would always have a possible chronic prolapse issue, and this is just not a good way to live. Even if you chose to keep one hen with a prolapse, besides infection and tears, there is fly strike. Plus, it doesn't feel good.

I was able to sit with her and sing to her as she got swept away into dreams and then final little breaths, and she was gone.

I never take those last moments of life casually. No matter what the size of the animal, or age, it is an honorable role, to sit with one's last breath. I tried hard for her, and she willingly went along with all the cleanings and care-but she had a good life, first with a little girl who loved her, and then here with chickens and grass and Apifera.

The other upheavals deserve their own posts. But in a nutshell, I am very, very worried about Earnest. I have him on the vet's suggestions, but he is down, and with a fever. We got that down today with meds, but I am still very worried. Seeing him like this breaks my heart. I miss him. Then Old Mama Sugee developed a large lump on her face, at the jawline. I immediately suspected abscess or tooth issues. Sugee has horrible teeth. We have floated her several times but that is not an option due to her slow heart rate and elderly age. Infection is a concern–I will write more today if I can. Right now, Earnest is heavy on my mind. I have become very attached to that pig. I knew this, but this morning I was almost afraid to go to the barnyard. Not having him walking about, not hearing his voice, it all makes me hurt from gut to my heart. I think we need to have a prayer-in for him. I will pull one together.