Little Girl has died.

Little Girl died yesterday.

The chickens woke us up with their squawking at around 5am, just as it was starting to get light out.  Ben and I both thought they were just yelling to be ‘let out’ of the run into the yard to begin their day.  Turns out, they were sounding the alarm that Little Girl was dead, laying on the ground underneath the coop.

I’ve been expecting it for years now.  There’s no way a hen can continue to lay yolkless eggs exclusively and NOT have something heinous going on inside her.  Little Girl only produced a handful of yolkless eggs early this year, end of winter/early spring.  She did the same thing the year before.  I knew that eventually that would catch up to her, and result in egg yolk peritonitis or some other malfunction killing her.

She had been slowing down a bit, but not much.  She was lounging a lot more with Bossy, who is entering the early stages of her molt right now.  My assumption was that Little Girl was also entering an early molt, though she’s usually a bit later than Bossy.  She did not stand around hunched, or ruffled, or anything else.  She was eating a little less, but again, that’s something I wrote off to the potential molt.  She was just as pretty as ever, with a bright red comb and wattles, clear eyes, and luxurious perfect feathers.

I’m amazed at how the other hens sounded the alarm over her death.  At one point after picking Little Girl up and examining her, I knelt down with her body and Bossy came up, cocking her head to each side, searching Little Girl’s face.  She very gently pecked an ant off her neck feathers, and checked her face again- it was like she was coming to terms with the reality of Little Girl being gone, like she was still in chickeny disbelief.  I placed Little Girl in the basement of the house, on the washer, to leave there until we were back home and able to dig a hole to bury her in.  Before we left, the chickens started squawking again- they saw Little Girl’s body laying on the washer through the basement window, and were sounding the alarm again.  I had to cover her with a sheet before leaving so the others would stop being spooked.

I’m crushed, but ok.  I honestly didn’t expect her to live this long after first realizing that something was incredibly off about her egg production.  I just miss her.

Little Girl memories:

  • I loved that I could hold her so easily, she never fought me and seemed to prefer being carried
  • She was absolutely vicious toward the other hens whenever they turned in for the night, preferring to sleep by herself on the highest roost
  • She’s the only hen who has gone broody, and I’ll never forget just how badly she fought to get back into the coop to lay on the nest- even flying up onto the top of the coop to see if she could get in that way
  • She was a pro at walking up and down the stairs from the basement to the kitchen, and would wait in the right spot for me to let her out the side door
  • I think she actually enjoyed being ‘cooped up’ with us during the winter while the other hens were outside
  • I won’t miss her psychotically ripping out the feathers of the other chickens
  • She didn’t know how to make the ‘egg song’ like the other hens- hers just came out as an ugly squawk/scream combo
  • Her normal vocalizations were rough and aggressive sounding around the other hens, and changed to sweet sounds around people
  • She seemed to enjoy having her wattles rubbed
  • She survived a hawk attack by wedging behind some bushes and screaming until we ran out and chased off the hawk
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