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Rosie the Hen Has Passed Away

6 January 2011

Rosie, Our Rhode Island Red (April 2009-January 2011)

We’ve lost one of our beloved hens. She acted a bit lethargic for the past week but continued to eat and drink and get up on the roost with her flockmates. We thought she might be beginning to molt. Then yesterday, when we returned home in the afternoon, she was lying in the damp dirt along the edge of the outdoor run. Don brought her into the house and we wrapped her in a towel. While I was holding her and stirring electrolytes into a cup of water to give to her, she gasped twice and died in my arms. I’m heartbroken. I put her, still wrapped in the towel, in a little cage in the laundry room for an hour believing that she may revive and get up and surprise us all. But alas, she did not. We buried Rosie near the grave of our old chocolate lab and marked her grave with a large river rock.

Rosie did not have the easiest chicken life. She has always been at the bottom of the pecking order. This meant that she was chased away from the finest of treats and was the last to be allowed to get up on the roost at night. A piece of her comb was missing from an exceptionally hard peck and some of the feathers on her head were gone.

Granddaughter Carolyn and Rosie

But Rosie was a resilient little thing. She was first up on our laps. She kept her eyes glued on the house during the day hoping we would emerge with a bowl of scraps in our hands. She was quick to grab a worm or snail that was thrown into the outdoor run. Grandchildren loved her and even strangers could easily pick her up.

It is hard to know why a hen less than two years old would die for no obvious reason. After her death, we examined her to see if we could identify the cause of her death. She had a yellow discharge from her vent as did Daisy when an egg broke inside her. This disease, that kills so many “high egg producers”, is called “egg peritonitis”. Had she shown more symptoms or acted really sick, I might have been able to treat her and save her life. If only…..if only……If only.

Along with the joy of having loved pets in our lives comes the inevitable sadness and loss. This simple creature enriched our lives, made us laugh, and provided us with hundreds of her beautiful eggs. Thank you and farewell, dear Rosie.

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12 Comments to “Rosie the Hen Has Passed Away”

  1. Lee, I’m so sorry of the sudden loss of your dear sweet Rosie. She was a lucky girl being part of your flock, well cared for and loved. It astonishes me how delightful hens are as pets but as you said it’s inevitable to bring sadness at some point.
    Your henhouse, run, cam and blog are ever so enjoyable to me.
    RIP, Rosie!

  2. I’m so sorry to read about Rosie passing away. They are so enjoyable, and it’s hard after you’ve grown attached to them.

  3. Roseann and Denise Daniello

    We are so sorry to hear about your dear Rosie’s passing. She was a pleasure to watch especially her interactions with you. She seemed to love being picked up. You phrased it most eloquently, you gave her a good life and she enriched yours, that is the most anyone can ask.

  4. Thank you all for understanding my sadness. Anyone who would tune in to see my hens would have to understand my attachment to them. Thank you.
    I am fascinated watching the flock dynamics and wondering how it will change. Now who will be at the bottom of the pecking order? My guess is Sweetpea or Daisy (sweet ones). Should I try to find another home for Petunia (the shy and insecure pecker) who causes so much distress? I’ll wait until they have all completed their molting and see how this all plays out.

  5. I’m so sorry to hear about Rosie. I agree, that she was a lucky girl to be part of your flock even if she was “low man on the totem pole”.
    And if she had to go then to die in your arms was a most special thing. She had to know she was loved.
    It will be interesting to see how the dynamics of the flock change.
    I have a hen who is plucked but she tries to hold her own. I’m thinking of knitting her a turtle neck because her feathers are scanty there…she’s been plucked so much.
    My heart goes out to you.

  6. I am so sorry to hear about your loss. It is never easy to have a feathered family member pass away. Maybe this Spring you will be able to add a few chicks to your flock. You might find comfort in a poem called The Rainbow Bridge. I put it on my blog when a friend lost her Buff Orpington Fuzzy. You can find it at:
    Thank you for sharing your hens with the world!

  7. Lee,
    So very sorry about Rosie. She had a wonderful life with you.
    We lost one of our old “starter” hens in the spring, so got 2 Buff Orpington chicks from Farm Supply – Minnie and Pearl. Once we had moved them outside to a separate pen, a varmint got in and carried Minnie away. We were devastated at her loss and our carelessness – got two more adult hens, another Buff and a Cuckoo Maran. All are now thriving. Pearl is the first to lay this season, and wants to be top chicken. She is also very affectionate and can be picked up or petted any time. They all love cherry tomatoes, so will plant plenty this year. It is just amazing how attached one can become to a chicken.
    Your site is wonderful – have shared it on my FB page and with Amy at the MG office, who put it on the MG FB page as well.

  8. Mom, I’m sorry to hear about Rosie. The dark side of me wants to say “Hey, it’s just a chicken”, but I’m aware of how much time and love you put into raising her. I feel for your loss. God created Rosie and fed us well with her eggs.

    Love Milo

    PS: Julianna says hi, and she feels bad.

  9. Gee, I found this website thru a magazine article. I read about poor little Rosie. Couldn’t help but think how alike we are to some animals! My name is Rose and some ppl call me Rosie. I too always felt inferior to others, similar to the pecking order lol. But also, I was 2 hours away from dying due to peritonitis! Wow!
    We are getting our first chickens this spring. I am a city girl now in the country so am a little nervous about it, but am reading up a lot. Maybe I’ll name it Rosie!
    Great site!

  10. I’m so sorry for your loss. A week ago, I lost my first hen, due to a dog attacked and it’s devasting. I’m starting to wonder myself if I should have chickens as pet because I find out how much I dearly love them and cannot see how I will be able to deal with another loss. I haven’t eaten in days since I lost mine and I know how you feel when you had to go through with yours.

    Love the site!

  11. Chickens are so vulnerable it is hard to keep them safe. Loosing them is hard but seems to be a part of chicken wrangling. I felt particularly bad loosing Rosie because I thought I might have been able to save her if I’d realized sooner that she was sick. A lesson learned. Don’t give up. Chicken love is so worth it!

  12. So sorry for your loss, i too recently lost one of my hens.
    She was an Easter Egger named Muffy.
    Some people might say ” They are just chickens “, but to me, they are like part of the family .

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