Over the weekend we lost one of our “veteran” chickens, Stewie. Matt and two of our neighbor dudes were shooting the shit in the back yard when Stewie came blasting out of the coop and, as far as anyone can tell, took a bad step on the ramp and broke her neck when she fell. It was just as simple as cackle cackle stumble crack dead. Ironically, this happened not two days after I had repaired the cleats on the ramp, screwing them all back down and making sure they were level and tight.
Stewie was the biggest, meanest, loudest, and the least productive of our original flock, but she was also by far the prettiest and she was a good boss to the other chickens (even if she did think she was a rooster). Her second-in-command, Dumpling, has eased right into the leadership role without a second’s hesitation. In fact, the transition was so seamless that I have wondered on more than one occasion if Stewie didn’t fall, but was pushed.
While it’s never pleasant to lose an animal it could be worse: she didn’t have a disease, so we don’t have to worry about the health of the remaining chickens; the other chickens have continued to lay and interact normally, so her death didn’t spook them; and the reinforcements are growing fast and healthy. Friday and Saturday are supposed to be nice (we have the usual downpour right now) so on one of those days I will reconstruct the pen I used for the meat birds last summer and they new kids can move outside.