I left last Wednesday for Seattle, to attend the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. I'd never attended the show before, so I was pretty excited to see it, as was my mom, who traveled with me. We hit the ground running that afternoon, heading over to the convention center as soon as we got settled into our hotel room.
Things went smoothly in the beginning, with the exception of the severe turbulence as we crossed the mountains about an hour east of Seattle. That was the longest 20 minutes I ever want to spend in a plane under those circumstances, but we survived without the need for a change of underwear, so it's all good.
On Thursday, while I was sitting in a seminar at the show, listening to Helen Yoest speak about "Art in the Garden," I got a phone call from Romie. It was on vibrate, so I let it ring out, fully intending to call him back when the seminar was over. I got distracted and by the time I remembered it, the three-hour time difference made it too late to call him.
The next morning, Mom was talking to Dad and he told her that one of our hens had died the day before. That was why Romie had called. I couldn't believe it.
|Miss Landers is one of the three Buffs here, as a young chick.|
When we got our chicks last May, we got eight of them, because we wanted five laying hens. I figured perhaps one might end up being a rooster and maybe we'd lose a chick or two. But as good luck would have it, we had eight hens and they all did well. In fact, we never had a single problem with any of them.
They ate, they drank, they scratched, they pecked, they pooped, they grew, they molted, and they started laying between five and seven months of age. And no pullet eggs for them! No siree, Bob. From the very first egg, they were full-sized and we had several double-yolkers.
|Miss Landers is the golden Buff Orpington standing to the rear of the flock.|
I have to tell you, I love my chickens. I never thought I'd say that. I knew I'd like them, but it's more than that. They have a way of wrapping themselves around your heart, and as ridiculous as that might sound, if you've never had chickens, you're not likely to understand how that happens. With such a small flock, it's easy to see the hierarchy develop and their little personalities begin to emerge.
Some are flighty and don't really take to being picked up, while others make it easy for you by squatting and waiting for you to scoop them up into your arms. We have five Silver Laced Wyandottes and three Buff Orpingtons and the Buffs are the "scoop 'em up" kind.
When I was finally able to talk to Romie, I found out it was Miss Landers - one of the Buffs - that had passed away. He had opened up the coop to let them out and there she was, laying on the floor - already gone. There had been no indication prior to her passing that there was any problem, so I talked to my friend Dee Nash who was at the garden show, to see if she perhaps knew what might have happened. I also talked to Jessi Bloom, who was speaking at the show on chickens in the garden, and both Dee and Jessi said the same thing. It may have been an impacted egg.
Sometimes the hen has an egg that doesn't pass and it just gets stuck. It can be a serious problem if she doesn't pass it - even fatal. Miss Landers didn't give us any indication that anything was wrong, so I'm not sure we could have done anything to help her. It might have been something else, too; we don't know. I worried that it could be something that would run through the flock and we'd lose them all. But so far, the other hens seem to be just fine.
It took me three years to convince Romie to let me have chickens, but it didn't take long before they charmed him. In warmer weather, he would take a lawn chair and sit under the crab apple tree and watch them as they scratched and pecked around in the yard.
|Miss Landers is the one with the light blue ring around her leg.|
Miss Landers was the only hen that Romie named out of the eight. When I named one of them Violet, he said to me, "We should name them all girl names from Leave it to Beaver." (It's still one of his favorite shows and he watches it on DVDs, which our daughters have given him for Christmas and birthdays.) I'd already named most of them by that time - all but one. So Miss Landers it was.
He told me he was sad when he opened the coop door and saw her laying there. I was sad too, when I heard about it and wished I'd been home when it happened. I know this is all part of being a chicken mama, but it's still sad.
Thank you, Miss Landers, for sharing your eggs with us, but also for helping to teach us that chickens are more than just eggs for breakfast.