Many of you have been following along on the plight and progress of Little Peanut on our Facebook page. You’ve cheered her on and sent your blessings. You’ve encouraged me to do my best to help her. I thank you all for being there for me and keeping Peanut in your thoughts while she fought to recover from her injuries.
This is why it’s so hard to say all that I’ve done for Peanut was not enough. She passed away in her sleep last night.
My heart is hurting at the loss of a baby. It’s especially hard because she was doing so well and making such improvements that it was looking like she was going to make it. I’d convinced myself everything was going to be fine, and then it wasn’t.
A week ago, Peanut was attacked by a rat while sleeping under her mom, Little Carl. At first I thought we’d lose her that night, but she pulled through. The next day the whole left side of her body was limp, her eye was closed, her wing was drooping, and she couldn’t use her leg. We went back and forth between whether we should cull her or try to rehabilitate her. I did hours of research on the internet, and asked several online communities for help and advice. The overwhelming majority of people said she would probably recover, so I had high hopes.
It appeared as though she had some sort of swelling in the brain, as she had been bitten on the top of her head by the rat. The fact that she could still move her legs and wing made me think she wasn’t paralyzed and could recover.
I spent hours that day caring for her, giving her water and food drop by drop. She was weak but still had her spirit and tried several times to flap her wings. By the end of the day she was drinking water on her own and her left eye was opening up.
The next morning she was even more peppy, peeping up at me when I checked on her bright and early. She managed to eat on her own and drink, but still couldn’t stand. I made her a sling so she could get used to standing on both feet without putting too much weight on them. We took her outside to see her siblings and her moms, and to get some fresh air and sunshine.
On day three she was so much improved that we were able to lay her outside, where she spent hours getting used to using her wings again and trying to stand. By the end of the day she was able to stand on both feet for about ten seconds before toppling over.
Day four we did the same, and she spent the whole day outside, eating and drinking freely, and practicing standing. She was now able to stand for about a minute and walk about ten steps. My heart soared at the sight of it. The visible improvements every hour were incredible. She was looking like she was going to pull through.
On Day five we decided to let her spend some time with her family. Up until now, she’d been secluded outside to keep the rest of the flock from picking on her. We let out the adults of the flock but kept the babies and mommas in the run. We put little Peanut in there with them and watched as each chicken came over to say hello to the little patient.
Some of the babies cuddled up next to her and laid with her for awhile. Being with the others seemed to brighten her mood even more, and she tried her best to keep up with the energetic chicks. She was walking very well by now, stumbling here and there, and toppling over on occasion, but better than ever none-the-less. She spent the whole day with her family and we decided to let her sleep with them that night as it had been a struggle to keep her warm all night on her own.
The next morning I checked on the little family in the back porch (we were still keeping them there to keep them safe from the rats) and was stunned to see Peanut laying down in the corner with her eyes closed. I let the rest of the crew out into the yard for some free range time and picked up little Peanut. She was covered in her own excrement and appeared to be having terrible digestion problems. I brought her inside and got her some water, which she barely drank. I gave her a nice warm bath, and wrapped her up in a towel and placed her on a heating pad to keep warm. I had to make a quick trip to the store to get a hair dryer to dry her off as I’d realized we didn’t have one. I was back within five minutes and got started on drying her off. She slept and cooed while I blow dried her with the warm air.
When all was finished she was looking much better, but clearly not feeling better. She spent the whole day laying on a towel with her eyes closed. She was drinking a little, but refusing any food.
By the time night fell, it was clear I was fighting a losing battle. She had pushed through the neurological issues from her wounds only to be met with digestion problems. She had only opened her eyes a few times throughout the day and was looking like she was giving up.
I was giving up too.
Almost a week had been dedicated to her recovery. I’d worked hard and she’d worked harder. I thought if her digestion would clear by the next day, she would be fine. We’ve had chickens with digestion problems that cleared overnight. I was hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. If she was the same tomorrow, we’d have to put her out of her misery.
The decision was made for us during the night and the little one passed in her sleep. I woke up to find her in the same position I had left her, laying comfortably on a cloud of cloth. I was devastated at the sight of it, but she looked so at peace, finally.
This is the hardest part of caring for animals. We’ve culled chickens before, out of necessity due to illness or over population of roosters. When you’re raising livestock this is a fact of life. It isn’t easy, but it’s necessary.
This was different. This was an accident. She was only a baby, just starting her life. We’d never lost a baby before. I feel like I failed her. I wish I had known that a predator will still attack chicks even if their mommas are right there. Raising livestock brings its fair share of regret in retrospect. All we can do is learn from these mistakes and go on to make new ones. Such is life.
Rest in Peace my little Peanut, you will be missed.