True Story, Issue #9

"Resurrection" by Rebeca Dunn-Krahn

True Story, Issue #9

After a family member, a friend, and a string of pets die within the span of a few months, Rebeca and her family are finding grief exhausting. When one of their chickens starts exhibiting strange symptoms, they do everything they can to keep from having to suffer through yet another death.

From "Resurrection" by Rebeca Dunn-Krahn

“Minerva is not doing too good,” is how Sophia, my sixteen-year-old, put it that cold January morning, coming in from her morning egg check. It was a weekday, and I was multitasking in the kitchen, packing a lunch for my son, drinking coffee, buttering toast, and waiting to see whether there were enough eggs for everyone’s breakfast. “What’s wrong?” I asked Sophia. “Do you think she’s too cold out there?” The nighttime temperature had been dropping below zero for a few weeks, and I was always concerned that our flock of seven laying hens wouldn’t have enough hay in their sleeping box to keep them warm overnight.

Sophia kicked off her rubber boots and handed me four small brown eggs, warm from the laying box. There were four already in the egg basket on the kitchen counter, so that would do. “No, I don’t think it’s the cold. She’s sleepy and doesn’t want to come out of the coop.”

This was disappointing news; our family’s Maran-Ameraucana-cross hen was young, just nine months old, and she laid pretty blue eggs. But, as a pragmatic vet in our community says, “A sick chicken is a dead chicken.”

Eight years ago, this vet tried to discourage me from spending a lot of money and energy attempting to save my first-ever sick chicken, Big Ann, a Rhode Island Red who produced large brown eggs on a very predictable schedule. I was not deterred, and spent one hundred dollars on antibiotics—a chicken itself costs only ten dollars—and Big Ann died before I could give her the first dose. I didn’t think the vet was a very nice man, but I have repeated his motto to my children every time we’ve had a sick chicken. After nine years of keeping hens, I’ve lost a fair number, and I no longer take measures to slow or halt illness in our small backyard chicken coop. I suppose I have become a not-very-nice person also.