If you have been following since June 2011 you may remember Gerty the chicken developed a swollen crop (stomach). For the first few months we tried massaging the crop to prevent it going hard, and with much difficulty force fed her olive oil to move any blockage. Sadly neither worked and we gave up with an acceptance that she would probably die shortly after. As every month passed we were all pleasantly surprised to find her not only alive but appearing happy doing all the things chickens do. Eventually the expectation of her death faded, so last week when I went to collect the eggs it was quite a shock to discover her dead in the coop.
I never would have thought I would have come so attached to a chicken, but all of us in the family did. She provided us eggs, helped out in garden, provided companionship while we worked in the garden, and gave us many a laugh. I felt it only right that we show her the proper respect and held a small burial ceremony. I dug her a grave under one of the compost heaps, and while she laid at peace each of the family took turns at saying thank you for how her life touched ours. We then each throw a handful of dirt over her, before I pulled the compost pile back over.
When back inside the house my son went and grabbed his toy chicken that I gave to him when he was born. Previously the stuffed toy went by the name of “chicken” but since Gerty’s death is now named Gerty. Gerty stayed by his side all that day. It was clear he was grieving a loss, and I wonder if we hadn’t celebrated would that loss have been kept bottled up inside without a means of expression. I hope the experience also taught my children that despite death being something we strive to avoid, it is something we celebrate, not fear.
In loving memory of Gerty here are a few photos and stories.
On day Melanie and I were watching the chickens while we enjoyed a nice cup of tea, when Gerty fell from the perch and land in a cloud of feathers and squarks right on top of one of the other chickens. Her swollen crop made for some very poor but funny flying attempts.
There was also the time she had a banana peal stuck to her head, and the time she got her foot stuck under a root and couldn’t move. Without doubt you brought us many an entertaining moment.
She use to love to terrorise the children, pecking at the hems of their clothes. She taught my son how to be brave.
I was amazed how the other chickens looked after her. A few nights after cleaning the coop out and forgetting to open the door, I would return to find the girls all huddled around Gerty, protecting and keeping her warm. The leader Speckles would also insure she ate, telling Henny Penny to back off.
Gerty, may you rest in piece.