We lost a couple of little battles this week. Earlier this summer we had a couple of surprises in the chicken yard when one of our little Old English Game hens hid in a wall with some eggs and managed to hatch them. We got two adorable little chicks, but didn't get any pictures of them. This week one became paralyzed in her legs and we had to have her euthanized.
Last year another Old English hen hid with some eggs, and brought forth the little brood you see in the accompanying picture. Most of them were roosters, but one little girl who did not develop fully, we named Runty. She was tiny and delicate, but sweet and personable as are most Old English Game chickens. We looked out for her carefully as she was so much smaller than the other birds and could easily get beat up on or trampled. She got sick earlier this year, but pulled through okay, then last week she got sick again. This time we lost her. In spite of all our best efforts our sweet, innocent little Runty went over the Rainbow Bridge. She was strong and held on for quite a while, but finally let go on Friday night. I cried a lot. She did not deserve this ugly, lingering end. In retrospect I wish I had taken her to the vet as well. I hate death but it is a sad fact that we live in a broken world and it will not be better on this side of Heaven.
After euthanizing the first chick earlier this week, the vet suggested we might want a necropsy (autopsy) done. We concurred and signed the consent papers. Yesterday I spoke to the vet and he did not yet have the results of the histopathology but the person performing the necropsy saw nerve swelling suggestive of Marek's disease, one of the more dreaded things your flock can contract. I am very sad. We used to have a clean and healthy flock, Marek's is forever. I feel tainted, like we have the plague and should be ostracized from polite (and disease-free) society.
We'll miss you Runty.