Today was a bit of a sad day. Our favourite little Pekin, Mickey Jr, passed away this morning. He had always been quite a sickly little guy. He caught a respiratory infection a few months ago and even though he was given antibiotics and recovered, I'm not sure that he was ever 100% healthy. Because he was quite sick he spent a lot of time inside in his "quarantine" cage and become a real charmer. He used to love sitting on my lap getting groomed and having cuddles.
I noticed a few days ago that he was starting to get a slight mucous build up in the corner of his eyes and in his throat, and today I noticed him sitting in the yard struggling to breathe after eating his breakfast. I noticed he had some food lodged so tried massaging his neck to help it down but he sadly didn't recover and made his journey to the big chicken coop in the sky to be with his dad. 

We had a little burial for him and made a final resting spot in the corner of the garden. My daughter helped me make a little rock border for him in the shape of a smiley face and picked some flowers. It was also a good chance for us to explain to her about the circle of life and what happens to animals when they get sick and don't make it. She is a very clever and compassionate girl for only 4 years old and handled it very well. She said she was going to miss Mickey Jr and I told her that we would always remember him. Then she brightened up and said, "Mickey Jr has a brother - he can be our Mickey Jr now!"

I'm not sure if the other Pekins and Silkies realise what has happened yet but they do seem a lot quieter today so maybe they do sense something? Even my partner, who doesn't usually get too attached to animals, was browsing through auction sites online and saying we should get a Black Orpington Rooster.
I do have plans which involve a Black Orpington Rooster, and hopefully come spring I will be able to start on that little project but just the fact that he remembers the name of one of my favourite breeds  shows that they are actually starting to grow on him.

I know many people would say, "it's just a chicken" but this little guy really was something special. There are quite a few like him in our flock that draw your attention with their personalities. Al of our chooks have earned their forever home with us and even though I know that eventually we are going to put some birds in the freezer, it won't be any of our current flock. I have planned that next season, any extra roosters that we hatch will be raised and fattened up in a "bachelor pad" for this purpose. I have always been a bit of a "chicken" (pardon the pun) when it comes to culling poultry so I may have to ask my partner to do the deed for the first few times, but I know it is a part of life when living rural and wanting to be self-sufficient. The bonus is that we know exactly where our meat is coming from and how it was raised. We try to give our poultry the best life possible, after seeing so many documentaries about chickens spending their lives crammed into tiny cages with dozens of other birds and never even being able to move I'm really glad that we chose to raise our own. I really enjoy watching our chooks scratch about in the paddock, chasing bugs and just enjoying doing what they were born to do. And even though I am planning ahead for extra roosters to be raised for the freezer I can always guarantee that there will be at least one or two that will manage to sneak their way into the big coop and into our hearts :-)

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