Ruby, our remaining Welsh Black lady; sister of Rose, who had a prolapse earlier this year; mother or Aunt of my Garden Girl, Roobarb. Our lovely Ruby had to be culled today.
She hadn't been herself for a little while. She looked physically fine, no problems around the vent, no obvious signs of injury. She laid softees two days apart, so initially we thought that might be the problem. We gave her nutridrops, which seemed to perk her up a bit, gave her water. She didn't seem ill, just not right. She let us pick her up, which was odd to start with.
A couple of days ago, DH came home from the allotment. He said that he thought Ruby was blind, in one or both eyes. Each day, we gave her water, showed her the feed. She didn't seem to want to eat or drink. When we went to see the chicks the other night, I found her outside the henhouse. I lifted her in, but I realised that she probably couldn't see to get in at night.
With that realisation, we looked at options. We could, potentially, bring her home and hose her here, where we could put her to bed and help her out each day. However, our Garden Girls are not the most welcoming, and I couldn't see them tolerating her. That wouldn't be fair on her.
It became clear that we were going to have to cull her, sooner or later. It's one thing to be living on the allotment now, while it's warm, but it wasn't fair on her if the weather took a turn for the worse. It's hard to decide whether a hen is sitting quietly enjoying the sunshine, or whether she was sitting quietly waiting to fade away. Her comb and wattles were still very red. She didn't want to drink.
This morning, we discussed it again. We didn't want to do it, but we didn't want to not do it and have Ruby die slowly. We watched her while we went about our jobs. In the end, it came down to whether we would do the deed today, tomorrow, Wednesday... Whatever day, the end result would be the same. If not today, the need to do it would be hanging over us - especially over DH who does the deed.
In the end, we decided to do it today. It was a lovely sunny day, she'd been sitting quietly in the sun and so it would be better than waiting until she was in extremis. I offered to do it, as poor DH always ends up with this job and he hates it. DH declined my offer.
I cried. I always cry. I was crying because we were saying goodbye to our lovely girl. I stood with DH and Ruby while it was done.
It never gets easier. Even when it's for the best.