by Daniel Morris
(Charente region, France )
Rest in peace Cannonball
We only got our hens about a month ago so it seems even more absurd that I am this upset, but the death of this particular hen has absolutely destroyed me.
We bought 6 ex battery hens, Bertha, Becky, Blanche, Fan, Doris, and last but not least Cannonball. We named her this because she would always tuck her head back while she was standing and look like an almost perfect sphere.
But contrary to what we thought, it turned out under all the feathers, Cannonball was actually extremely skinny and frail. The other hens would pick on her constantly, but she ended up becoming a firm favourite. She absolutely adored lentils and broccoli, they were her favourite food, and she was just an absolute sweetheart.
Our hens have a decently large coop but we let them roam free during the day and they return at night. Cannonball was extremely curious - she was always the one who would go wandering off making us worry if she was going to come back - but she always did.
She was very sweet, she would just let you walk straight up to her and pick her up, she never had a problem with it unlike all the rest of our hens who won’t let you within 5 feet of them. She was just very special to me and I loved her like any other pet.
About a week ago we started to notice she was losing a lot of feathers around her tail and neck. We are almost certain this was from the excessive bullying by our other hens. She seemed to get very depressed and wasn’t moving around a lot. For a while we thought she may have also been egg bound because she was dropping her tail and seemed to be struggling.
So yesterday we brought her inside, we were bathing her in a tub of warm water and we even did the finger up the vent to try and help but we could not feel an egg and nothing came out so we assumed she was fine. This is where I regret my actions and blame myself for her passing.
Once we were certain she was not egg bound we dried her off kept her inside for a bit to make sure she had some food and water before we put her back. And then that was it, I took her back to the coop. I observed her eating some grass and I was happy.
Then that night I went to shut them in and everyone was still happy. I should also mention, we have 2 young geese and Cannonball absolutely loved them, wherever they would sleep at night (usually in the corner of a large nesting box we have in the coop) Cannonball would walk up behind them and try to sit on top of them.
I like to think it was to keep them warm or keep herself warm, I’m not sure, but it was adorable, and that is the exact position she was in, I saw her moving her head so I knew she was still alive at that point.
Unfortunately though, this morning, I went out and found her sprawled out on the ground, legs stretched out with feet curled tightly, stiff as a board, and I just broke down.
I live with my mum and sister and neither of them understand, I can’t explain this feeling of sadness and guilt, she was under my care, I loved her, but I let her die.
It’s been an hour since I buried her and I haven’t stopped crying. Then I found this website and decided to share. It’s comforting to know people love their chickens as much as I loved Cannonball if not even more.
She was taken far too soon and I just hope she knew she was precious to me.
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