Sunshine flies over the rainbow
Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Sunshine Flies Over the Rainbow

Sunshine passed last week.

I did not want to see her suffer. Chickens are not meant to live long lives like dogs or cats or us.

Fluid had been building up in her belly. I knew it was probably either an egg peritonitis or a cancerous mass that lead to the ascites. A few days ago her legs were so spread apart from the fluid that she needed to balance with her wings. Her mind was sharp, she was alert and eating but I did not want to see her suffer.

You see, she was spending most of her days in the corner of the run. Even Oyster Cracker had sensed that it was her time. They were spending less and less time with one another. She knew, the flock knew, and I knew too.

She sat on my son’s lap for the car ride to the vet. I wanted my fears to be confirmed and they were. There was no egg stuck in the vent. She had been in henopause for a couple of years now. The vet removed a bit of fluid with a syringe from her abdomen. Once I saw it I knew. There was no infection but a malignant mass causing the fluid to build up. I could have had the fluid removed only to have it return in a day or two.  It was clear. Her body was failing her.

After we said our tearful goodbyes, complete with chicken snuggles and her nestling into our necks. We put her to sleep.  This is the hardest part about keeping chickens. It is so different than caring for people.

In my career, I have done a great deal of palliative, end of life, and hospice care as a nurse practitioner. It is amazing what the human body can endure. Most often close to the end of life, we fall into an almost dreamlike state. Our mind seems to surrender before our bodies. I think in some ways this makes death much more acceptable in our minds and hearts.  For chickens it is the opposite.

It is their bodies that wear out. Their minds are sharp. This was the same with Dolly too. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is probably a survival instinctual trait to remain sharp until the very end. It is also what keeps me guessing even though I know exactly what is happening in their body.

Time is fleeting. I have said it again many times but there will never be a flock that I hold more near and dear to my heart as the original six fluffy butts that arrived our our doorstep all those years ago. They changed our lives in so many incredible ways. Today there are 2 left.

I find comfort in knowing that they live on in my book. The original flock graced the pages of my book to touch the lives of many more families around the globe. I never would have thought in a million years that my flock would come into other chicken family homes and begin to share how magical the journey of chicken keeping can be. Life sure does have some unexpected twists- in a good way.

We buried Sunshine with her other sisters who passed before her underneath the Ruby Slipper Hydrangea. I know that they are just over the rainbow on the other side. One day, we will all meet again. If I close my eyes, I can see them all waddling and running to see me.

Hello friends, welcome! Follow along on our chicken, beekeeping, gardening, crafting and cooking adventures from Cape Cod.

  • I am so sorry for your loss.

  • It must be so difficult saying goodbye. It seems you have special, wonderful memories of your girls. So sorry for the loss.

  • I'm so sorry for your loss

  • So difficult to read your post, knowing the pain you feel, the pain we all have felt and will again when we are responsible for these wonderful little creatures. I'm sure your girls g ad a lovely life and were as blessed to have you as you were to love them.

  • Anonymous

    It's so difficult to lose a loved pet. Know that you gave them the best life.

    Jay

  • I know how you feel, and it just plain hurts. My original flock ladies are all slowing down. I'm always amazed at how calm and proud they seem as their bodies start failing. I know you miss her terribly. So sorry.

  • So sorry for your heavy heart. She had a wonderful life with you and that's more than some folks can say. God's speed…

  • Anonymous

    Having been there (seven times); I know the feelings which takes one through the motions of letting-go. RIP Sunshine �� you're shining-bright over The Rainbow Bridge��

  • I had one die of the same thing a year or so ago. It's hard……… *sob*

  • Sue Nicholls

    Thank you for describing your brave and selfless decision to let Sunshine go. It was a beautiful thing you did for her. Love and warm wishes come your way as you now deal with your feelings of loss. May your remaining girls bring a little comfort at this time. xx

  • I'm so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful, brave girl who was shown kindness and love right to the end, and beyond! Rest peacefully, Sunshine. You'll always be remembered. :'(