Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Sunny Went Home.

Photo copyright Aji, 2016; all rights reserved.

Yes, that's an allusion to the title of the Shawn Colvin song, but the subject is a Sunny of a different sort. Our Sunny was the little yellow chicken on the far right in the photo. She walked on from us today, sleeping in the sun.

That photo was taken on May 2nd, 2015, when she was much healthier overall. She was a lively but skittish little thing, the most beautiful of the yellows, frankly, with feather tips in creamy off-white and bright gold in a pattern that looked like moirĂ©. 

Later that summer, she became badly egg-bound, and we almost lost her. It took days of working on her, and weeks of recovery, for her to bounce back to what would be a relatively pale version of her old self. We had gotten that round of chicks the previous year, and we would come to learn that, like some of those from 2012, a couple of the groupings came from what seemed to be inexperienced breeders. The chickens would turn out to be not nearly as hardy as the others, more prone to egg-binding and other issues. But they are family, and so we deal with whatever life presents them as best we can.

Sunny didn't fare well; the binding ruptured something, creating a fistula. She would never lay again, but she did recover, and that was more than enough. She was more subdued, with occasional flares of discomfort although apparently no pain, and what seemed to be a hip injury resulting from the whole process would also flare periodically, too. I kept an eye on her more closely than the others, of course, and late last summer, she flared badly enough that we thought we might lose her. Still, we soaked her repeatedly in warm water, I held her on my lap and massaged her, and once again, she surprised us — she pulled through.

She has a couple of preferred areas in the coop where she'd build the usual divot in the dirt and nestle in comfortably. Whenever I'd scatter the chicken treats, I'd make sure to drop a bunch in front of her so that she wouldn't have to move too much to get at them. As of last night, she was still hopping around and hoovering them up.

When I let the chickens out this morning, she hopped out the gate with the rest, looking perfectly happy — subdued compared to the others, of course, but still her usual self. Around 1:30 this afternoon, Wings came and got me, telling me that one of the chickens was gone. He led me to a place in front of the hay barn, and there she lay, nestled gently between the glass recyclables and a stand of posts from the electric fence, right in the brilliant gold sunlight. She had apparently abandoned the slush and mud that are now everywhere and picked out that spot in which to rest, then gone to sleep in the warm sun for which she was named, and simply . . . kept going.

She far outlived what any normal life expectancy would have been for her, given what happened to her two summers ago. And as far as we can tell, she simply settled in in the sun and the warmth and went to sleep, and then fell into that deeper sleep without ever waking. As such things go, it seems to have been an easy start to her journey. We were grateful for every minute that she had, given what her little body had endured, and we're now grateful that she was apparently comfortable to the end, which would have been, at a guess, about noon today (her body was still warm from the sun, but rigor had set in). She's at rest next to Cinder, over by Carter's tree.

She was the color of the sun, and very nearly as bright and happy, and she was one of our lights. We love you, little Sunny girl.

All content, including photos and text, are copyright Aji, 2017; all rights reserved. Nothing herein may used or reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the owner.

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