This has been one of the roughest weeks I’ve been through in a while. Maybe it had to happen to balance out all the good stuff and satisfaction I had been feeling. You name it, I’ve experienced it within the last week: mayhem, illness, injury, and death.
Mayhem: My dog, Hannah, got skunked in the pre-dawn last Sunday. This was the same day I was expecting friends and other visitors to my house for the Windy City Coop Tour, so I was pretty distressed. Not as much as Hannah dog, though. She suffered a direct hit to the face and I can’t imagine how painful it must have been to have skunk vitriol sprayed into eyes and mouth. When Hannah finally approached me after the attack, her eyes were red and watering and her mouth was foaming as she tried desperately to get the acrid substance out of her mouth. I never got a close look at the skunk, but from the size of the tail I saw it must have been pretty large.
So I started my Sunday by washing my dog (outside!) and trying to dissipate the odor in the yard. Of course the attack took place right near the chicken coops, so the smell was quite strong in that area. I was so glad that I had prepped extensively the day before. If I hadn’t made the food and put everything in order in advance then I doubt I would have been able to accomplish that in addition to cleaning up the dog. I made Hannah stay outside until late in the afternoon, but she still has some skunk odor about her.
Illness: It’s no wonder that I started feeling achy and tired during the work day on Tuesday. I skipped my knitting group Tuesday night and instead stayed home to rest. There was still leftover soup from Sunday, at least. (It was minestrone not chicken noodle, but hot and satisfying nonetheless). I spent the rest of the week at home, attending critical work meetings and providing guidance to my team via telecommuting. But I also spent a good portion of my day resting and drinking hot tea. Several days later, I’m still not feeling 100%, but I am feeling improved.
Injury: One of my chickens, Honey, got herself stuck under the fence on Thursday afternoon and is quite badly injured. I was convalescing on the couch when I heard a knock on door; a kindly neighbor notified me about Honey, as she had seen her while walking the dog. I had to pry off part of the cedar fence to release Honey, and once I got a look at her injuries I bundled her up and took her to the avian vet. She had a puncture in her neck (from a fence nail, perhaps), but the worst injury was to her left wing. I could see that she had a laceration along the shoulder, but when I picked her up yesterday the vet told me it had been much worse than he had thought at first glance, too. The laceration was extensive and left exposed bone, a dangling nerve, and an exposed artery. If she had wiggled just a bit more, she would have nicked the artery and bled to death.
I’m not going to disclose how much I’ve spent on her treatment because I’m a bit embarrassed. And the total cost is on its way up as I had to take her back to the vet just this morning and leave her for more treatment. She had been in fairly good shape last night but this morning she was very subdued, not eating or drinking, and had started contorting her body in an odd way every five minutes or so. We’ll see what the doctor says when he sees her this afternoon, but she’s there for the weekend now…unless something worse happens to her.
Death: My aunt died on Thursday morning. I’m sure part of the reason I’m throwing money at the problem of my injured chicken is that I just don’t want to deal with another death right now, even the death of a pet I’ve only had for a little over a month. I got to visit with my aunt over the Independence Day holiday when she was still in very good shape. Back then she was walking, talking, and up to taking a long car trip with her twin sister to visit her far-flung nieces and nephews.
I saw her again the last weekend in August (the same week I got Honey and the other chickens, by the way). For that visit I drove to visit her as she was bedridden and tired easily, although still up for short visits throughout the day. My sister and I had lunch with her and then had another short visit in the afternoon after my aunt had a chance to rest for a bit. We knew the end was coming and I knew that was likely the last time I’d see her.
My aunt enjoyed her life and her end most likely came completely painlessly. But when we grieve, it’s not because we regret their sickness and pain. It’s because we regret the loss of their presence in our lives and the possibility of sharing time with them ever again.