On the sixth day, I found little Siouxsie Sioux crumpled near the front of the brooder.
Not knowing how long she had been out of the heater, I worried about her body temperature. I held her close to me, and saw that she was weak. The emergency box, which I had obsessively curated two years before, was nearby.
I grabbed the bottle of NutriDrench and placed the dropper to her beak. She took a few drops. When I carefully placed her under the heater she stayed where I put her.
She couldn’t walk.
I quickly called the nearby vet that treats chickens. Even though it was a Sunday, the head vet answered the phone, and kindly told me to make a mixture of non-caffeinated Lipton’s tea and a teaspoon of honey. Use a dropper and feed it to her.
His theory was that she was dehydrated and cold.
After feeding Siouxsie the mixture, she seemed to perk up, but she still couldn’t walk. I called the vet again, and he encouraged me to come in.
As we got settled in the exam room, I asked the doctor about Nellie. He looked at me confused.
“Oh the chicken? She’s doing well. She lives with a rooster and a duck, and they get along famously!” he said.
Eight months earlier, the vet had told me an aggressive hen in my flock was attacking Loretta, pulling out her feathers and stressing her to the point she no longer laid eggs. He said the only solution would be to rehome her.
When I showed up to his office two days later, I nervously asked if he could tell me about the adoptive family.
He reached into the cage and brought Nellie into his arms.
“That would be me!” he said.
In this moment, the vet rolled Siouxsie on her back and poked at her legs. I could tell from the look on his face that the news was bad.
“She slipped a tendon,” he said. “I could do surgery and pin it in place, but the success rate on that is very low. At best, you’ll have a significantly compromised chicken.”
At this point, Siouxsie couldn’t even walk on one leg, so her prognosis looked bleak.
It was a difficult decision, but I knew it was best to say goodbye. I stayed with the little angel until she drifted away.
Chick mortality is somewhat common, but this was my first one. Simply devastating.
I brought her home and buried her up on the hill where Gigi and Loretta like to gather.
If Siouxsie had made it, she would have loved it up there.