My chicks arrived on October 14th, 2004. I'd never had chickens before, but studied up on them before making the leap.
I ordered 2 Black Australorps, 2 Light Brahmas, and 2 Buff Orpingtons from Ideal Hatchery here in Texas. Luckily, they don't have a 25 chick minimum, as I was pushing my luck with Lee getting chickens at all. The hatchery added "cockerels for warmth" which means, we're dumping a bunch of extra roos in your box, what you do with them is your business.
One of those "roos" ended up being a hen. I was now a chicken mom of 7 chickens.
This is James with Audrey (Hepburn) chick and Sunny chick. How do I know which ones they are? I just do.
My seven hens grew by leaps and bounds and thrived on much love and lots of free ranging. The free range idea came back to bite me one evening when my neighbor's Jack Russell terrier made the 2 acre trip to my place. The hens had already gone to roost, but I hadn't closed the coop door yet. The terrier made a terrible mess of Audrey's sister, Blackie. I wasn't aware of the attack until the next day. It was clear that she needed to be put out of her misery. I wasn't up to the job. I paid the vet $6 to put her down----I'm quite sure they just wrung her neck and gave her back to me. No sense wasting medication on a job that can be done quite quickly with bare hands. Thereafter, the girls only got to free range for 2 hours in the evening, just before dusk. The neighbor also put up a fence that was terrier proof.
Not long after Blackie was killed, one of my hens decided to go broody. I put some fertile eggs under her and ended up keeping one of the roos that was produced. I was back up to 7 chickens.
Seven chickens until a couple weeks ago. Audrey began behaving strangely. She would wander off from the group. I'd find her just standing by herself. She quit taking dust baths and only picked at her food and snacks. She also decided that sitting in my lap was a good idea---something she never really liked before. Unfortunately, my roo decided that she could no longer be a part of the group. He began attacking her, as did the other hens.
I was preparing to go to a week long camp, and leave the chickens in my family's care. I spent the whole week prior to leaving, trying to decide what to do about Audrey. I couldn't leave a sick/failing chicken for them to deal with. I really knew what to do, but was reticent. I knew I couldn't cut her head off, as the kids would want to help bury her. I had to break her neck.
It was a simple procedure, but a hard one nonetheless. The movements that come from the nervous system as it shuts down were a little disconcerting, but I knew she was dead. I held her the entire time.
Yes, she was just a chicken. A friendly chicken that had personality plus and always wanted to gossip about the other hens.