Even harder is that Hilda, my sweet red hen, is probably dying. Nothing infectious it seems, no sign of respiratory or intestinal problems. She had had a slowly developing, hard knot in her neck for a couple of years, and it has grown in the last few months. An impacted or infected crop? Maybe. Sunday she was scratching and hopping about and eating, Monday evening she was too weak to get up to her coop. She is getting weaker and weaker. I move her in at night and out to a private coop - where she lived with the others when she was a pullet - during the day. Anything else, it seems, would be extending the process of death, not her life. This morning I thought she was gone, but found she had a tiny bit of warmth still in her feet and under her body where she would have brooded eggs. I gently lifted her to a nest of straw in the separate coop, placed fresh chickweed next to her head, in case something about its essence might soothe her, and left her there. I don't know if she will still be alive when I get home today.
Such a sad week.