beyond the fluff…..

beyond the fluff.....


This is one of those stories that I thought about not sharing here. 

It's sad. 

And hard.

But you know…. there's a lot of us trying our hand at this backyard homestead thing and I think it's good to share our travels on this journey. Perhaps especially when it just plain sucks. 

I come from a long line of farmers, and this story would probably make them chuckle and shake their head. But for me, and maybe you…. it's a first.

(as a warning…. it involves animal death…. feel free to come back another day when I'm talking about sewing or making jam…)

When our chicks arrived, one was obviously not well. She couldn't stand. She didn't peck at the water. She kept arching her back and flopping over. Peeping and peeping. I helped her drink water. I checked on her the first night. After 24 hours she made not a tiny speck of improvement. She was dying. Eventually, if we left her, she would starve or get dehydrated. 

We can't let her suffer, Joe said.

I know, I told him. I'll take care of her.

We discussed the plan and decided the quickest way was a meat cleaver and a wood block by the shed. He offered to do it. I almost let him. And then I thought… I wanted these chickens. I ordered them. I'm the pushing force behind this backyard homestead we're planning. I need to take care of the hard stuff too…. 'cause it isn't always full of cute peeping and fluff.

We explained to the kids that we had a responsibility to not let our animal suffer, that this was the right thing to do. They took the entire thing so much better than I thought. It goes to show I worry too much sometimes. Luke asked if he could watch, I said no. I didn't want anyone to watch me.

Joe sharpened the cleaver and handed it to me. I can do it, he said again. I know, I told him.

I carried the chick in her box and the cleaver out to the woods behind the house. I laid her on the wood block, said a little prayer for a quick death and end to suffering….. and a heap of confidence for my trembling hands. I told her I was sorry. And then I did it. One swoop of the cleaver and it was over. I was worried I'd mess it up, but I didn't. It was over so quickly. I turned the wood block over and wrapped her up in a little rag I'd brought from the house. We buried her at the end of our property…. just beyond the edge of the invisible fence so no curious dog would unearth her. Aside from fish, this is the first animal I have ever killed. It was hard. My eyes welled up with tears…. but I felt more confident as the keeper of this flock knowing I could do it. That if something happens I would be able to follow through, end suffering of my animal, that I wouldn't have to wait for Joe to come home. 

I was somber walking back into the house. My little chicken man asked me right away, Mama, are you okay?

Yes, I said.

Good, he said, hugging me. But it musta been hard, right Mama?

It was, I told him.

He patted my arm, and then he was off.




36 thoughts on “beyond the fluff…..

  1. I had a non-fish pet death for the very first time in my life late last year. I’m not saying that I ever thought my animals would live forever, but the whole experience opened my eyes a little. Between that and all of the *real* homesteading posts I’ve been reading on my blog list.. I’m not sure that I’ll ever be ready for chickens or sheep.
    Hugs to you, brave homesteading mama.


  2. Oh…this made me cry a little.
    George grew up on a farm & this sort of thing is exactly why he is resisting my push for chickens etc. (Well, that and he knows firsthand it’s a lot of work & doesn’t trust I won’t get bored of it, but that’s another story…) His grandparents instilled such a respect for animals in him and he hates that sometimes this is what you have to do.
    You are a stronger person than I. I don’t think I could have done it. xoxo


  3. Oh, man, you warned me and I went ahead and read it all anyway, now I’m choking back tears. You are very brave. Peace and comfort to you all. xo


  4. What a good care giver you are and a wonderful example for your children. This past year we have had so many animal deaths in our family- they went quickly but still there were moments as I was helping them/ comforting them through transition out of this life when I wished I could have done something to make it even quicker for them (we are talking elderly hamsters and a rat with a pituitary tumor). I can only imagine how difficult it was for you to carry out the task. But so brave. Thank you for sharing this story.


  5. (((hugs)) you did the right thing, even though it was a very difficult thing. I had to do something very similar a few years ago, but it was with a baby Phoebe. There was a nest of 5 baby Phoebes. One had died in the nest, one fell and didn’t make it. Two were very healthy and the 5th one had a strand of horse hair tied around it’s leg, making it unable to walk. My daughter and I noticed that the mother was no longer feeding it. She knew instinctively that it wouldn’t make it and that nature would take its course.
    I knew I couldn’t let it suffer but I couldn’t do what you did in quite the same way. Instead I wrapped the baby up, put it into a small bag and rolled over it quickly with my car tire. I knew it didn’t feel a thing and that it was quick.
    I have a neighbor who has had to take care of a couple of my very sick chickens in the way that any farmer would. If I were the only one who was available to do it, I’m not sure I could. You are brave and did the honorable thing. Bless you.


  6. I think you were right in posting this. It would be very hard to end a life before it had barely begun. I’ve never done it so I’m glad you shared your experience. Then at least one day I can think back on it when I have a flock of my own and know that you too had to do the hard work.


  7. You are so brave! Thank you for sharing! I often romanticize about having chickens, but there is a lot more to it than getting fresh eggs. ( I have no farming experience) I cried while reading, hugs to you and yours.


  8. Proud of you. It is such a hard thing to do. It is the only thing I hate being an animal owner. It was the right thing to do. Hope the rest grow up fat and happy. Love you


  9. Thank you for the kind words. It was a rough moment…. but a good life lesson. Luckily all the other chicks are doing very well and growing by the minute. Can’t wait to share some more cute chick pictures πŸ˜‰


  10. I grew up with the same respect for animals instilled in me. It’s such a big responsibility. One that perhaps is not fully recognized until a moment like this. Surely a good life lesson for me. xo~


  11. Thank you Ginny. Joe would have totally done it….. but I just felt like I *needed* too… if that even makes sense. It was hard, but I’m glad I did. It was a good life lesson in the care-taking of animals…. of course the kids took it much better than me πŸ™‚


  12. Thank you Darlene. As soon as it was over, a wave of relief washed over me. For me and the little chick both, I think. It was a good lesson in this life of animal care-taking.


  13. It was a sad moment for sure…. but the kids were so sweet to be worried for me and proud of me. The hardest part was telling them what I had to do, and they thought it was admirable. I was so worried they’d be upset….. and they took the whole event in stride. They are wiser than I give them credit for sometimes.


  14. I’m such a sucker. Head over heels in love with balls of fluff in a few minutes! But it was the right choice. Thank you for the sweet words my friend πŸ™‚


  15. That is so true. I really did my best to handle it all in such a way that I was showing my kids the same thing. Trying to be mindful and loving, but not dramatize the event. Does that even make sense? They took the whole thing very well though….. as usual I worry too much πŸ˜‰


  16. Thank you for teaching me how to care for animals…. even when it’s hard. You’ve been a better teacher than you might have imagined. love you~~
    ps – remaining chicks are fat and growing quickly!


  17. On the road and only able to catch up with my favorite bloggers here and there. Such a difficult situation that you handled with maturity and grace. Thank you for sharing the not so beautiful real life too.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s