Bye Bye Speedy…

There’s something – I don’t know – kinda ishey that goes on inside you when you bring home baby chicks. You pretty much instantly love them all. They’re so tiny! They’re so funny! They’re so fluffy and adorable! How can you not love them?

Yes, it becomes VERY easy to bring baby chicks home! You might even find yourself bringing home more chicks than you originally :ahem: mentioned to your loving and supportive spouse. Somehow talk of eight chicks turned into more… But before there were more there were the first four original Hip Chicks – Rhode Island Reds Henrietta, Millie, Hallie, and Little Bit. About a month later came what were supposed to be five California Whites and five Dominques. Yeah, not so much – more like a bit of a hodge podge on the Dominiques – which, incidentally had a bonus chick thrown in.

Our second batch of chicks arrived shortly before my second trip to Spain of the year – I felt like a horrible chicken mom! But my kids – particularly Jess – stepped up to bat and really did a bang up job of caring for, loving – and naming (at least some of) them.

Here they are as little babies! Aren’t they adorable? Speedy is one of those cute little black and white puff balls.
Just a few weeks have passed here – look how big they’re getting! They were sure developing personality at this point. But even way back when – on the far left you can see Speedy – kind of off on her own, and looking… well… different.

A month later I was sure something was really wrong with Speedy. She was self-isolating, eating poorly, and seemed lethargic. We were worried. I hit the net and looked up every possible chicken disease and their symptoms – but she never really met the criteria of a specific disease.
We were fortunate to get some great advice from some other local Chicken owners and after some isolation, special treatment and quarters – Speedy seemed to get back up to speed!
Her favorite treat, by the way, was organic oatmeal (cooked up with some fruit pieces in it) with some yogurt thrown on top for good measure.

And while she did better – she never actually thrived. She would free range with her peers in the yard – but would oftentimes look confused about everything that was going on around her.

And while she was different – there were always a couple of her peers who would take – what seemed to be to us – special care to keep an eye out for Speedy and just hang out with her.

Speedy was always up for a good snuggle!

This probably sounds ridiculous – but honestly, this is how I most remember Speedy – looking kinda quizzical!
There were days when it almost seemed like she needed help standing or being steadied. It was so sad!
Here in late October it was just so obvious that Speedy was declining again. And I was getting ready to head out of the country again. And this time we had a chicken greenhorn chicken sitting – and I didn’t want him to have to worry about what to do for poor Speedy in the event of a crisis.

So we emailed Rancho de Kao – a little bit of chicken nirvana in the Portland Metropolitan area. We were warmly invited to bring Speedy over for a little stay at the spa while we were out of the country. We were thrilled to have chicken pros on the job!

We touched bases with Rancho de Kao while we were still in Spain and learned that one of her handicaps was that she just didn’t handle layer food well – she wanted baby food! So baby food – and lots of snacks – she got. Well, and just pampered all around. She did GREAT! Shortly before we were to return home we touched bases again and learned that we’d both have really nutty weekends our first weekend back – so we’d delay bringing Speedy home by a bit.

About a week ago we learned that Speedy had been doing wonderfully one day – taking little treats from an outstretched hand – and then later in the day withdrew. By nightfall she’d gone into her bed, and shortly thereafter she died.

We were so surprised! But not.

Poor Speedy.

We subscribe to Backyard Poultry magazine. We’d just received our subscription for the month and one of the articles mentioned that when one has a chick that just doesn’t thrive – it should be culled from the flock. In my Grandmother’s day (she was born in 1912) that would have been a no brainer. Today? There are vets that specialize in treating poultry! Who knew?!

For us – we love our backyard flock. But feeding our kids takes priority over money that might go toward chicken vet bills. There are those who would be horrified by that… of course, they might also fall into the camp that chicken are people, too! We’re not quite there. We love our birds, yes – but they are not humans. We will care for them to the best of our ability. We will provide for them appropriately. We will work hard at keeping a healthy balance.

So, while we’re sad that Speedy is gone, I honestly feel a little guilty that we didn’t cull her from the flock months ago. I’ll be pondering that for some time to come, I’m sure.

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