Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Day the Chicken Died - A Repost

Picture of Helen - April 2009 - after raccoon attack

One of my favorite things about blogging is to be able to go back and see what was going on in my life a year ago - this is the post from a year ago today....
I'm happy to see that I've made changes in my life, and I'm taking care of myself now....
I was absolutely stunned by your outpouring of sympathy at the passing of dear Helen.
I'm here to tell you what happened.
I'm surprised at how saddened I was at Helen's death.

I really enjoyed nursing this little chicken.
She needed me.
I needed her.

Saturday morning started in the usual way.
Sleeping in til 7.
Tending birds.
Fabulous coffee.

As soon as I was coherent enough, I began doing yard work.
I've made this elaborate list, lining everything out that needs to be done, week by week, day by day, in order to keep my on schedule for the Lowell Garden Walk in July.
The next three weeks will be rough.

I noticed late morning that Helen was a little more to herself than usual.
Her tail was a bit drooped.
"I gotta keep an eye on her", I thought.

At noon, I went off to my Beekeeping Class.
Yes, folks, I'm getting bees.
Scary, isn't it? My cousin Jim tells me I might as well learn to juggle chain saws while I'm at it.
That really cracks me up.

Here is the president of the club, Mark, showing us how to use the hive tool.

Here we learned how to light the smoker.
Smoke - good.
Fire - no good!
(You have to say that like Frankenstein to find the humor)

The Vice President, Ed, taught us the proper terminology of the hive, so we didn't call him up and say....'Um, that little thingy on my hive is glued with honey, what should I do?"
Please note the observation hive behind Ed.

Aaron's been at it again with the camera.
He was so encouraged by all of your comments!
The rest of the pics in this post were taken by:

The following text will have nothing to do with the next five photos.
I hope it doesn't confuse you!
Keep up people!
I got home from bee class about 5:30.
I promptly put my hive together.
Although my sister-in-law and niece were visiting, I found it impossible to sit after sitting in bee class for 4 hours.

I decided there was enough time to finish cleaning the chicken coop before dark.

Helen was now in the nest box.
I thought she might lay an egg.
Her first egg ever.

You see, Helen has never layed an egg.
T'aint normal.
I really don't know why - but I'm assuming it had something to do with the raccoon attack.
She was barren.
Another thing we had in common.
We understood each other's pain.
She sat in the roost box, with her vent pulsing a little.
I picked her up, and even with my gardening gloves on, I could feel she was burning hot.
I do believe animals have a sense.
All the chickens knew.
I didn't know yet.

Aunt Jemima watched as I removed Helen from the coop.

Scarlett seemed extra worried.

No name (He's since been named Buddy) was even concerned, and he's normally quite aloof.

Mrs. Puffington nearly worried herself sick about Helen.
Even the cat looked on, a bit grief stricken.
I didn't think too much of this. Helen has been so frail, and has had to come in the house before, and even wore a diaper for a bit.
If you never read that post - click here.
In a sick way, I looked forward to babying her, and nursing her.
I put antibiotics in her water, put her in a nice, clean, warm place.
She expired sometime in the night.
I just couldn't believe my eyes.
Glenco handled the arrangements.
I'm still not really sure what exactly happened, but I'm tending to think that perhaps her body finally formed an egg, and she couldn't lay it.
I was so worried about the other chickens.
I watched them carefully all day Sunday for signs of illness.
They are all fine.
It was Helen's time.
Even in her death, she taught me a great lesson.
In the midst of the busyness I'm experiencing right now with the garden - which seems to be of paramount importance - in the grand scheme of things - it's meaningless.
I've been experiencing above average fatigue and joint pain.
I know I'm overdoing it.
I'll be doing a full post on this subject very soon (like - when it rains and I can actually be inside!)
Our days are numbered, and I really want to spend my days to the fullest, and that doesn't necessarily mean work. It's all in our attitude, our mindset. I'm so work oriented.
This must stop.

(I'm happy to report that is HAS stopped!  I am much better at managing my time - even though I stay incredibly busy - the stress is gone - my health has greatly improved over the last year - )
So teach us to number our days, so we may receive a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12


  1. Jayme, I think I told you that I have lost all of my favorite fowl at one time or another. Buddha's last words before he died were, "All things pass away. Strive on."

  2. Jayme, I am so very sorry about your Helen.

  3. I really am sad about Helen. I know some people would be like "it's a chicken, get over it". But it is obvious that she was your pet and you loved her. So this is no different than loosing a beloved cat or dog. She was beautiful and had exquisite feathers. Hang in there, spring is in full bloom and summer is just around the corner, so you will be able to work away your grief in your flowers and vegetables. Love ya!

  4. Jayme, you've so brought tears to my eyes as I read the road to Helen's end. You're right, animals have that "knowing" about health issues.
    I had so many questions on how's and when's but you've explained it all. She was a beautiful chicken and you definitely personalized the relationship between the two of you. A death of something or someone you love is a great loss so take some time as you work so hard, to mourn for her.

  5. Very well writen. I know how hard loosing one of your hens can be. Our prized hen Dolly was killed by a dog this winter. It was very hard on us.

  6. So sorry about Helen. I, too lost a chicken this past old age. I held her as she died...then went into seizures, at which point I sobbed. We get so attached to these gals, don't we? So....I feel your pain.
    Hugs to you,

  7. Jayme I am sorry to hear about Helen... I don't care what kind of animals we tend to, dogs, cats, birds, chickens, snakes, spiders - you become attached to the little buggers and your heart breaks when their life ends.

    Mr Aaron sure has an eye with that camera.... he is going to go places with that creativity!

  8. Aaron seems to have found one of his gifts in life. Kudos to Aaron!

    The Blue Ridge Gal
    (Helen is in a better place)

  9. Sorry for your loss of sweet Helen...and thanks to Aaron for the great photos!

  10. Helen was beautiful and your post about her passing is touching. Thank you for sharing your heart on this.

    Love & hugs,

  11. Love your heart! Sorry to hear of Helen's passing. Wonderful post and beautiful photos.

  12. What a very special post, Jayme. Praying for you as you prepare for this garden show. Yesterday made a full week since I worked past my limits and I'm still paying for it. I need to really take heed to Psalm 90:12. Looking forward to what you have to share when it rains!

  13. Blessings, again on your loss of Helen.
    Once again, Aaron has done a beautiful job with the photos. How the heck does he get the chickens to stand still long enough to get such good photos?
    I've seen some bloggers post their pictures for sale - it could be an idea for Aaron to earn some college money.

  14. Again, I'm sorry to hear about Helen. What a beautiful post. I really enjoy reading your blog. :)

    That Aaron has an amazing eye for photography!! His pictures are fabulous!!

  15. Jayme,I am sooo sorry. We lost a kitty yesterday, so I really really am feeling your pain. (It was Socks, my Kat's kitty. She was about to turn 14...same thing as the kitty we lost last Fall...kidneys going.)
    Life is hard...and you are right that our animals and our involvement in nature give us so much insight about the seasons of life. Our days are numbered, and we should not just walk through them trying NOT to think about that. Pondering that we DO have an end, just like our creatures...makes us be better stewards of the time in our in the now more carefully, more thoughtfully, more intentionally. That can only be a good thing!
    Thanks for a wonderful, even though sad post. It is generous of you to share such a personal moment in your life with the rest of us. We care!!! and most of us know and share your wounds and hurts... we understand.
    Great pics Aaron.
    And I can't WAIT to hear more about the beekeeping exciting. love to visit here always. You rock girl. Love your verse at the end. A few words packed full of eternal meaning..

  16. I am very sorry about Helen. I love my hens too. The really good news on this post is that Aaron is expressing himself through pictures. That is HUGE for a young man. It might be nice to get off the farm for a day and take him on a photo shoot. Or enroll him in a photography class for the summer. RIP Helen and High Five to Aaron!

  17. Poor dear Helen. At least you have comfort in knowing that you did all you could for her. Maybe she did teach you to slow down!
    Aaron's photos are wonderful!

  18. Jayme---
    My deepest sympathy on the loss of Helen. It's never easy to lose a beloved creature, even if it's fowl.
    (sorry-couldn't help myself)
    I've had to dig numerous graves large and small and place some of my best buds in them, crying all the while and thanking them for sharing their lives with us.
    You love deeply and widely and all your critters feel that.
    You are the best!

  19. Jayme,

    I am sorry for your loss. Thank you for your kind comments on my blog. It is hard not to get caught up in the momentum of "beeing" busy. Remember:"A bee is never as busy as it seems; it's just that it can't buzz any slower." -Kin Hubbard

    Your Friend,

  20. Helen had the best care - I enjoy taking care of my critters. It isn't a sickness - it's a joy, and so fulfilling. Only a true caretaker could understand!!! The photos are really great, and I hope you continue to feature images snapped by your photographer! He just might be discovering a possible career choice! Love it!

  21. Jayme, this was a wonderful post. I'm sorry about Helen, we really get attached to our girls don't we?
    Don't over do it girl! We have been doing the same thing and I'm nearly down in my back! :)

  22. Jayme,
    Donna told us about Helen's passing during our Monday run. So sorry!
    If you need an extra hand before the garden walk...don't hesitate to ask.
    I would love to help if even for a bit.

  23. Feel like giving you a hug ... so here it is: *big, comforting hug* I'm sorry about Helen. The photos are gorgeous!

  24. It is always hard to lose one of your "kids."

    Yup...even though I still feel I push myself harder than most, I also feel I have learned to stop and smell the roses. Just as we learn from a chicken death, life is short- you never know.

  25. I'm still so sorry about Helen.:( Your post is really beautiful and all. You have a lot to be thankful for Jayme! :)

  26. I think that you paid Helen the biggest complement of all, honoring her for what she gave to you, appreciation for what she showed you...that she needed you and you needed and learned from her.

    Glad your bee keeping class is going so well. i am hearing more and more about people losing their bees and I am going to try again next year. My knee is doing better and better and I cannot wait till I can get through a whole day with out taking these pain pills that make me so loopy.

    Keep us posted on your daily activities, Brenda at Ladybug Dreams is finishing up on her coop and will be getting her chicks next week. I am so excited to see women like you and Brenda and me trying new things. We can always learn and make ourselves better!!

    See what I mean about hte pain pills...I go on and on!

  27. Jayme, you really should write children's books on animals. Everyone would read them! So charming even when something sad happens, which it will when you live with animals.

    Beekeeping! I'm chomping at the bit to get started. I've had my hive sitting in my garage for almost a year. I can't wait to get bees, but alas, I must be patient!

  28. *sniff* I just can't imagine your farmhouse and coop without Helen. Last night as I was reading your posts about her, my Benjamin was so moved...he said, "aw mom, your chicken lady's favorite died? I'm so sad..." He's tenderhearted.

    Aaron's doing fabulous with the photography, and you definitely need to look into classes for him....give him a big hug for me.

    Now, will you be naming your bees? Shall I prepare some interview questions with them? *snicker*

  29. What a beautiful post. Our days are numbered and the death of any living creature reminds of us of our own days. How are we filling them up? Where are our treasures?
    I am sorry for your loss. There is just that moment when something or someone is alive and breathing, and then they are gone, like vapor, as the Bible says.

  30. Aaron is doing a great job with the photos… he's got a good eye through that lens. :) Tell him to keep up the good work. What a creative outlet for him! It may be just what the Dr. ordered. :)

  31. I am so sorry about Helen. I have Heloise, Henrietta, and Harriet and I would be upset like you if this happened to one of them.

  32. Jayme, I'm still feel so sad about you having to say goodbye to Helen. Just reading this post showed me again how much you care for your animals. Maybe knowing that you did all you could do will bring you a little comfort.
    Aaron is very talented! His photographs are really good!
    Don't overdo it in the garden Jayme. Take time and smell the roses, not just prune them... :-)

  33. I'm sorry you lost your beautiful bird. We are fairly new to the world of chickens and everytime we lose one it just tears me up.
    I just discovered your blog and I have enjoyed pouring through it!

  34. It is so very hard to find balance in doing what we love. The balance between the enjoyment of it and the over doing of it. The balance between just enough and too much. We live for it all winter, and then it kills us in the springtime. Sounds like you have an advanced case of Garden Body going though, so make sure you don't really do yourself in Jaymes. But, oh I can't wait to see this garden in it's glory!

  35. 1. Swooniest of all swoony tulip pics, ever, in the history of the world.

    2. Your use of "Barren" cracked me up. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I feel your pain??

    3. I wants Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiives! Not the ones I get when I take Advil, but the less itchy, more productive kinds.

    4. Slow down, lady.

  36. I feel such grief over Helen's passing, Jayme. I've heard of folks getting attached to others through blogs. But this is the first time for me it is a chicken. I feel loss. I can't imagine what you're feeling. Thank goodness Glenco took care of the "arrangements." Tell him it means so much to all of us that he did that. And to Aaron for providing the photographs. We shall miss her. I already do. I do think the other chickens need her photo in the hen house.

  37. I am so sorry about Helen! That sucks!

  38. Trying to catch up on blogs since my move and I've missed a lot...

    Sorry to hear about Helen...that's just sad Jayme. Hope the rest will be alright and it was just her time..

    Funny about your roll as Ellie Mae and how fun to find your friend again.

    Don't wear yourself out with chores. Oh and good luck with the Beekeeping. People just don't realize how important they really are. No Bee's, no us!

    I'll come by again soon, take care.

  39. Oh Jayme-
    I am so sorry.
    This was a beautiful post and a tribute to your amazing life (and Helen).

    I know what you mean. I have been working so hard in the yard.

    I would love to see your list.
    Are you planting anything new?


  40. I was glued to the computer screen reading this post. Wow. Full of such love and emotion. I know animals have a sense of things going on around them.

    Your tulips are so beautiful.

    Have a great weekend.

    Pace yourself.

  41. It's been a few days since I've been online. I'm so sorry of Helen's passing. This post was so beautiful -- I nearly cried. Thanks for the story.

  42. Hey I have read what you wrote. That's a awesome article and I found the article very helpful. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful article on the blog. I found that my article/blog post here which is Building a chicken coop is really on the subject let me know what you think about it?

  43. I can understand your sadness about your chicken. We had to have one of our kitties "put down" and it was so hard. I still expect to see him in his usual places. But we go on and love our other animal friends. Just so glad to have them in our lives!

  44. This time last year Mom was recovering from a fractured neck, she came as close as I've ever seen to giving up. But she didn't and I didn't...and a year later she is onto the next stage of her life and happy again at 87. No matter what we are going through, with God's grace we can overcome. You have great things ahead Ms. Jayme!

  45. Glad to know that you are better without the stress and better health. What a perfect Psalm. Blessings!

  46. Jayme, First time chicken mom, long time Jayme fan. I brought home 12 babies yesterday and I am already so afraid to lose one. (I know I will at some point.) I got up this morning and first thing I said was "Did everyone live thorugh the night?" I do have one with a poopy butt. I'm keeping an eye on it.
    xo, Cheryl

  47. A sad day... I know this was from a year ago, but I just didn't see it before this repost. Keeping chickens is so much fun, and then there are these days. So sad.

  48. Dear Crazy Chicken Lady,
    even though I know that pet love always comes with pain at the end, I still know I'll jump right in like you did... I'm sorry for the loss of Helen.
    I loved your "Chicken Chat" post from 2009 and reading everything else you've posted about your chickens. I dream of walking in your shoes one day with my own special hens and apron.
    Thank you so much for sharing your journey and farmgirl adventures, I can't express how much it adds to my 'empty nest' to know that these dreams are attainable for someone like me (also 49 farmgirl wannabe).
    I've got hives painted pink, waiting for my first bees too- so
    am gratefully living vicariously through your posts on that whole new adventure!


Thanks so much for leaving a comment!