Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sneetches: The rest of the story

Way back in late summer, I wrote about the “Sneetch sisters”, those two identical New Hampshire hens whose paths diverged so violently. I thought I'd catch up you on that story...

The Plain Belly Sneetch, bitten by our neighbor’s dog and nursed back to health with the kind of newbie over-the-top care that involved tweezers, maggots and a whole heck of a lot of hydrogen peroxide, died a few months later. She was a fighter, that Plain Belly Sneetch, and so in the end I was out there handfeeding her antibiotic soaked bread and keeping her rooster-free in her own little sneetch corral. But she had an internal complication (Likely due to the dog bite) and she died all the same. It felt like a real failure on my part. I second-guessed the whole episode. Would if I choose to treat an old hen again… given that mostly I prolonged the inevitable for a few months, and my good stewardship only led to much more suffering in the end? (Yes, I KNOW this is a chicken we’re talking about here, but still…) I’m not sure I would. I guess we’ll have to wait for the next little catastrophe to see. Likely, I will though, spoon feeding injured or ailing chickens just seems to be my way. Because, there's hope. there is always hope (at least until there isn't...)

Here’s the happier part of the update:

The star-belly sneetch, the one with the adorable new chick, is just fine thank you. We named the chick “Stella” (in going with the star belly theme) and as Stella grew, her parentage became delightfully obvious, from the wisps of feathers on her toes to her prodigious girth. Without doubt, her “biological mother” was none other than Fancy Feather, a mellow light brahma hen and my oldest daughter’s all-time favorite chicken! It also became obvious that “Stella” was a rooster. But what a rooster! “Stellar” (as he is now called) is gigantic—half cuckoo marans and half brahma—and, so far, he is as mellow as Sunday morning. Hopefully he’ll stay that way, even in the face of our veteran rooster’s displays of dominance and the inevitable onslaught of his own testosterone. And so, the sneech story ends in the way almost anyone could have predicted: Random bad luck bred more bad luck and random good luck, well, it produced one fine (if slightly Baby Huey-esque) rooster!

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