|One of these birds is Chuck as a hatchling.|
You might recall that we hatched the fertilized eggs from our Rhode Island Red rooster, Ross, and the three Bantam hens we bought. Ross is the same rooster that Daniel bought two days before his passing, and so Ross and his offspring will always be important to us. Normally there is a hatch rate of a percentage of fertilized eggs, but we were strangely lucky on our first attempt. The wet sponge in the incubator is a wonderful trick and I think it maximized the hatch rate. All the eggs we determined to have been fertilized hatched in the incubator. We had a hundred percent hatch rate !
Since we had quite a few hens and roosters, we gave some of them to friends as they grew, but many of them remained here on the farm, including roosters. Sometimes, animals who have known each other from hatchlings will cooperate with one another even though they are each roosters. Other times, some must be housed completely separately from others.
Chuck was one of the roosters from this large legacy of Ross the Rooster. Chuck is a beautiful looking rooster. He was of nice size, and had abundant red feathers with a spray of darker green ones at the tail. Some of the other roosters picked on him, and so he spent some time in a cage within the corner of the barn with other animals. Since he had a view of a beautiful hen, he seemed contented. Each time we placed Chuck in outdoor housing, he seemed to become ill. He didn't move or eat well and he seemed to tolerate extremes in temperature and weather poorly. This was interesting because his siblings, except for one or two of the original hundred, did not. Several times, Chuck made the journey to accomodations outside in Spring, but tolerated weather changes poorly. Eventually, we found him a large cage designed for many more animals, and he lived in it in the corner of the barn. He watched the other animals and listened to the radio for most of the day.
This year, Chuck would have been eight years old. He was living in the barn and had his cage cleaned daily. We would take him out to move around in the sunlight every so often. About a month ago, I noticed that Chuck had a normal wattle, but that his comb was not the crimson it should be. It looked paler somehow. I remembered that one of Chuck's brothers has a heart defect and that I had read a heart problem can cause pallor in the comb. I decided to treat him with an antibiotic in the event that he had an underlying pneumonia. The color did not change, but afterward he seemed well.
The last few days have been exceedingly cold here. The outdoor chickens who has houses within fenced enclosures, seem fine. The guineas also are dealing with the cold and wind. The ducks, who are exceedingly old, and were bought when Daniel was a small boy, are spending extra time in their house, but they too are fine. I noticed that Chuck was spending more time than usual curled up. He seemed okay, and after all, he was in a warmer spot than the others. I did not bring out the Delonghi heater or lights because he seemed to be weathering the cold, but I kept a close eye on him.
Today when I checked him, he seemed okay, but by this afternoon, his posture did not seem right. I took a closer look at him and he seemed to be in a torpor. He's too cold, I thought. I placed the Delonghi on a low setting near him. I also gave him an antibiotic injection, and he barely noticed. He looked healthy and beautiful other than the pale comb.
I checked Chuck thirty minutes later and he responded as if to thank me. I stroked him and told him he was a good rooster, and that I hoped he felt better. A half an hour later, I checked him and he was peacefully lying on his side and had passed.
I wonder if Chuck has a similar cardiac defect to his brother who also passed? Almost eight years is a long lifespan for a rooster with a birth defect. Still, I will miss this bird. I often get very close to the ones who have difficulties that require my assistance. Goodbye Chuck. Thanks for coming. May you find your family in Heaven and may Daniel look out for you there, in the farm in the sky.
Chuck was buried this weekend overlooking both one of the hen houses, and a beautiful forest.