Yesterday sucked.

In the afternoon, because of a combination of factors; hypoglycemia, overheating, dehydration, & stress, I fainted in my car after I got up into it. In the past I’ve had seizures when I faint, so when I woke and realized what had happened, I called my hubby right away. My head and body ached, I was overcome with fatigue. I fell asleep on the steering wheel. I was asleep in my car, windows up, in the sun for maybe 20 minutes until my husband showed up. I was severally dehydrated and tired but, thanks to Matt, was able to cool off and we got home okay.

We came home to find that Amelia (my big yellow hen) was still “acting weird”. The past four days she’d been behaving oddly. She had a really pale egg, was hiding, acting broody, always standing, explosive poo-ing, falling asleep all the time. When I picked her up tons of water came out of her mouth. We knew she wasn’t doing well.

We brought her inside to cool off and I tried to rest. I couldn’t sleep, I was too worried.

So, around 8pm, we took her to an avian vet with a free first time visit just to get an idea of what was happening. Honestly I was really looking forward to the free education. I had a laundry list of chicken questions. But we got bad news. Her crop had distended and was swollen with liquid. Something was stuck somewhere and for a chicken…that is bad news. There were really no remedies that made sense for Amelia’s condition and honestly for her status as backyard chicken. I asked the vet if it seemed like she was in pain.

While I asked the question Amelia was just standing there sleeping, letting water drool out of her mouth. It was pretty clear. So knowing she was feeling so crappy, (the vet said, “She’s really, really sick, Haley.”) and might get to feeling even worse, we decided to fork over a few bucks and have her put down.

This was probably a lot more intense emotionally than finding her dead in the backyard. But I know it would have been miserable for her. We buried her late last night and cried together for a long time. Trust me. I know. It’s a chicken. But you know what, I raised her and loved her and will miss her a lot. I stroked her comb and head as she passed away, held her for a long time and just cried.

Our flock keeps getting smaller and smaller. I’m getting waves of guilt; did I feed her something wrong? Should I have noticed earlier? What if we brought her home and she bounced back? Should I even have chickens if I get this attached to them? Then thoughts, attempts at reassurance arise; “Haley, chickens suddenly die all the time”, “How long did you think she’d live?”, “You can get another one!”, “Don’t personalize her too much. She didn’t have human emotions.”, “God knows you’d love to see her again.”

Nothing but tears every time I woke up in the night.

This morning I thought it would make me feel better to go sit in the backyard with the other two. It didn’t. It doesn’t seem right. I know this post will seem so dramatic to me in the future. But really, this is how I feel. I’m mourning the loss of a loved pet.

Your thoughts and prayers would be appreciated as I go into a busy week. I co-direct a senior high youth camp on the Oregon coast and heading there physically and emotionally drained is never a good way to start the week.

I’d love to hear from you all. Thoughts, stories, chicken wisdom…I think dialogue would help me.

Here’s a picture of Miss Marple, Amelia and Lyra, all sleeping on their faces when they were only a few days old.


24 thoughts on “Heartsick.

  1. Hey Haley, thanks for sharing! I can imagine just how hard it must have been for you and Matt. I will keep you both in prayer and specifically you as you get into camp this week. Grace and peace :) Rich.

    • Thanks Rich. I definitely feel supported and cared for here. I think getting away from home was good for me. Thanks for your prayers and encouragement.


  2. Hay hay, you’re hoing to get a lot of prayers this week. Just rest and enjoy the week knowing you are loved and cared for by a lot of people and that God will be hanging with you at the beach too. After this it’s smooth sailing. Drink water.

    • Kara-bear. Thanks for your comment. Funny how we were having very different evenings that night. I wanted to be there for you SO badly. Thanks for your prayers. And that for the smooth sailing comment…I’m taking that on as a mantra this week :)

  3. The loss of a pet, no matter what that pet may have been, is always a painful thing. I pray for you as you work through your grief this week and pray that you are able to get some much needed rest (even though I know how impossible that can be at camp!). I know you’ll be surrounded with people who love you very much. Hugs, my friend!

    • Thanks Carrie! And it is SO good for me to hear someone tell me it’s okay to grieve over a chicken. I need to hear it over and over. I think my brain wants my heart to stop hurting so it’s trying to shut things down by making excuses. As awesome as that would be. I know it’s healthy to cry through it. Ugh.

      Thanks friend :)

  4. I’m sad for you. Amelia was a chicken, but a beloved pet that you raised from a baby chick. You’ll
    think of her a lot, over the next few months. Don’t be hard on yourself. You are grieving and it takes time to adjust. Being at camp this week will lighten your heart and all the prayers and well wishers will boost your morale. You are much loved and appreciated for your love of animals, and by your fellow humans. As my Aunt Blanche used to say, “Buck up little camper.”

    • Susan,

      You’re right. Being here has helped so much. It gets hard again during down times, but I can see how God set this up. I am suddenly surrounded by lots of encouraging people who know me really well. It’s the safest place to cry besides my own home.

      Thanks for your prayers Susan.

  5. I’m so sorry, Haley. It isn’t dramatic or ridiculous at all. A few weeks ago I pushed an opossum off the road so it wouldn’t get hit (again) and was sad about the poor thing (obviously in a lot of pain) for days. I understand a little bit about your hen. I will be praying for you as you go through what I know is a very hectic week. Strength, joy, patience, and extra love and care from those around you. Much love to you.

    • Thank you, thanks you, thank you. It kinda sucks having such a soft spot for animals huh? It’s really such a tragic feeling and I’m not sure how to deal with it. I guess it’s just a learning process and one in which I need to pray about more often.

      Thank you for the amazingly encouraging words.

  6. I’m really sorry sweetie. I was at a gathering last evening (just guys) and all but two of us had chickens…I heard stories of chickens being eaten by racoons, some dying for some unknown reasons. Darryl Brown has a totally blind chicken, and one of the others has a one legged chicken. They spoke of these pets with a great deal of affection and joy. They weren’t just chickens they were pets.
    Once Cathy and I tried to cross the Mojave desert on my motorcycle in the middle of the day..(113 degrees hot).she got heat stroke, too…it was scary. We finally packed ice in our helmets and held bags of ice between us, but Cathy was too spent and weak to go on.
    I’ll be praying for you at Surfside., you’ll do great as always. I’m sure proud of you and am so glad you and Matt found each other. He shows his love at times like you had yesterday.

    Love, Dad

    • Thanks Dad!
      It’s funny how by the end of the day, I could care less that I fainted earlier in the day. Grief consumed me and it’s all I could think about. I’ll have to tell you some day about the cheesy slow-motion chicken flashbacks that were actually making me cry, hahaa.

      Love you!

  7. It seems obvious to me that Satan is at work here. Yes, hens don’t live all that long, but Amelia should have normally had a few more years of happy hen life in her chicken palace. In fact, I was thinking she would be the one to hatch the next group of chickens. It is easier when a pet passes after a number of years and an expected decline occurs. This is out of the ordinary. Then to have the fainting etc. I would guess a powerful being wants camp to be disrupted. He will be surprised because you will be supported by prayer and strengthened by God Himself. I believe an unexpected peace and comfort will engulf you as you recover from this attack. You are loved. The interesting part to me is that we probably will never know just what is going to happen at camp that brings such evil activity to bear. By that I mean the specifics of how the camp experience will change someone’s life. Keep up the battle and put on the armor of God! You brought chicken joy to Amelia’s short life, and you will bring joy to Surfside.

    • Thanks for your prayers Penny!

      Yeah, it threw my off my game for sure. But, your are so right. Because of the support and prayers I have around me, I was able to learn a lot about myself in the process. I found myself becoming afraid to attach the other chickens. I was actually thinking about ways in which I could make them more like “farm animals”. But I just can’t do it. I think God gave me a soft spot for animals and the vulnerability that comes with that needs to connect me more to God and not take me from Him. I don’t think hardening myself to it will really help me grow. Thanks again for you thoughtful comment. I’m sure we’ll catch up about it all soon!

  8. Oh Haley, I’m so sorry you had such a hard week. And I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there to support you at Surfside. I will be praying for you all week. I pray God gives you peace, joy, energy and renewal during this coming week. I know God loved Amelia, too. You may think it’s silly to love a chicken so much, but God loved that chicken more. And along that line, it’s probably silly to think that God loves us as much as God does, but that’s God for you. I’m with you this week in spirit.

    • Thanks Sarah! God does love Amelia! I think the hardest thing for me to get over, is the embarrassment of my intense reaction. But you are SO right. She was a created by Him. So I’ll mourn her how I need to. Gah! Why do I get so attached!!

  9. I know how you feel as you described exactly how I felt when I thought my chicken had gone yesterday and the relief today when she reappeared was amazing. I am so sorry for you and can truly imagine what you are going through. Be strong and maybe it is time to get some new chickens so that your brood of hens doesn’t look so much smaller. I know they won’t be the same but you will learn to love them too. Here is my post on my lost chicken in case you might want to read it. It might make you smile as it had a happy ending today when she came back home. http://mytinybroodofbackyardchooks.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/introducing-new-chooks-to-the-missing-resident-hannah-hen-part-2/

    • Thanks for your sharing your story! I’m so happy your girl arrived back safely. It’s also good to hear from someone else who loves their chickens as much as I do :) And you’re right. I do need more chickens. I am scared to get more, to have to put myself through such grief every time one passes…but they bring me joy. :)

  10. And from a complete stranger who has just happened by, my thoughts are with you. She was not just a chicken she was one of God’s creatures the same as us. You made the right choice and now you must grieve for her. Three years on I still grieve for my spaniel Monty. You will be great next week ! God Bless.X

    • Thank you SO much. I keep asking myself if I made the right choice…second guessing is really painful. Hearing affirmation, even from a stranger is unbelievably encouraging. THANK YOU! And thanks for your comments lately. It’s been a joy to read them.

  11. I told Samuel about Amelia and how you were sad and he said, “Auntie Haley took ‘Melia’ to the doctor because she’s sick? Tell Auntie Haley not to be sad, I want her to be happy… is Marple there?” “Mom, tell Auntie Haley not to go into the store”.
    So there you have it… out of the mouths of babes.
    We love you Auntie Haley, especially your big heart that loves your animals just as deeply as your nephews and niece! We’ll be praying that you have a truly amazing week!
    XOXO Katie and Samuel

    • This made me smile :) He is too cute! It’s a good thing I am learning now how to deal with pet-deaths because I was NOT setting a good example that night. I was full-blow hysterical. Ugh. Thanks for the prayers and the text the other day! It helps a lot to get little notes like that. Can’t wait to see you Sunday!

  12. Haley, your cousin, Penny Layne, gave me the link to your blog. So sad to read about the loss of one of your chickens. Years ago, I had chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys. I didn’t give them names, except for one turkey as she was more dog-like than turkey and deserved a name, I thought. I became sad when one of my flock died, I knew that they depended on me and they were my little pals. When I would let all the crazy birds out of the coop in the morning, to catch the bugs in the garden, they would run around like silly for a few minutes but then they would settle down and follow me as though I was leader bird. If I bent over to check on the melons or tomatoes etc. they would all run over to see what I had found. So this mixed flock of some 30 odd birds would come running, half flying and squawking, honking, quacking, it was a hysterically funny sight to see. You could almost read disappointment on their little beaks when there was no bug or worm to squabble over. Actually, I’ve just rambled on a bit, but yeah, I liked my little feathered pals and I’m sad for you and your flock knows that there is one missing too.
    Take care,

    ps…Penny Layne wanted me to read your pesto recipes but the world takes a crazy turn doesn’t it.

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