I have been struggling to write this post as it’s been so upsetting. Yesterday morning when the girls came out of the chicken shed Emerald stayed put. I thought it best to leave her be. There was a green splodge below her. She has been doing liquid green poops which I knew meant that something was badly wrong inside her.
I kept checking in on her and just before nine o’clock I found her collapsed just inside the pop hole. The chicken shed had become too hot for her and she had obviously tried to leave. I picked her up and put her in the shade of the wooden shelter. I gave her a chopped grape but it was painstaking waiting for her to very slowly take a few bits.
I rang the vet to make an appointment to have her put to sleep. I couldn’t let her suffer any more. I got an appointment for three o’clock.
When I returned at lunch time after I had done my deliveries I went to check on her. I felt so sorry for her. She had made it out of the shelter and was between two dust bathing girls. They had absolutely covered her in dust and she didn’t have the strength to shake it off. She looked so sad. I set her down on the patio area and gently brushed the dust off of her with my hands. I then put her back in the shelter and offered her the chopped grape once more. She only had a couple of bits and refused to have any water.
I explained to the vet that Emerald was elderly, was moulting and had been showered with dust by her flock mates. I thought that she would think I had her in terrible condition.
She was very good and did a thorough examination of Emerald. She said that her heart was actually strong but that she was struggling with her breathing. She felt her all over and said that she had a large, hard, lump, behind her abdomen. She asked when she had last laid and I said at the end of May, when she started moulting, which was usual for her.
The vet said that it felt like a tumour and would be pressing against her organs which would have weakened her. She agreed that Emerald needed to be put to sleep and said she would look after her, that it would be quick and painless.
I struggled to leave her and stroked her for a last time as the tears started to pour. I felt better about it being a tumour because I knew that there was nothing I could have done for her and I have read that elderly hens often have tumours at the end of their life.
I felt glad that I had managed to get her to old age and yet I still felt more upset than any other girl I’ve lost. She has been my all time favourite for such a long time. She was so beautiful and had such a lovely nature. I will miss her so much.
At bedtime I expected Speckles to go into the chicken shed without Emerald being there but instead she was outside on their favourite perch. I felt that she was waiting for Emerald. I lifted her down and steered her towards the chicken shed. The chicks had gone in and were in their usual heap in the corner so I lifted them to the perch.
To my surprise Speckles perched with Cinnamon and Dandelion. She has never done this before. It seemed like she didn’t want to perch alone.
I swept the patio area and then checked in again and she was still next to the little girls. The perch width is smaller so probably less comfortable for Speckles but she clearly didn’t want to be alone so I left her there.
I will be doing a tribute to my lovely Emerald but it may take me a few days. I have a lot more years of photos to look through for her and she deserves a proper send off.
I said to my mum (on the phone) and Sophie (by e-mail) that writing these posts is actually very difficult to do because it makes me cry all over again and I have to write through a blur of tears and with a lump in my throat but I owe it to her memory to do this.
Goodbye my lovely Emerald.