Farewell Funny Lady
It is with a heavy heart that I write this week’s blog. Yesterday we said goodbye to our silly and sweet girl, beloved lap chicken, Coco Puff. I am very attached to many of the ladies and gents here at the farm, but if the number of photographs taken, and nicknames bestowed on a chicken are any indication of the degree of our attachment to her, then Coco Puff was by far and away at the top of the list. We called her by many names, Coco Puff, Puffer, Puffer Fish, Ms. Puffington, and she was my husband’s best girl, his Superchicken.
She lived in a small coop with her best friend, Millie, on the back porch. There is a window in a small room off of the kitchen that opens into the coop, and this allowed us to visit the girls often and hand out treats through the window. When the weather was nice, we would let Coco and Millie out of their coop where they would free range under the watchful eye of Lil’ Red Rooster. He loves his girls and is a devoted escort. They would make their rounds through the yard, scratching and pecking for bugs and tasty green things, occasionally venturing all the way up to the vegetable garden, take a break for a sunbath or dustbath, then usually end up on the back porch where Lil’ Red Rooster would lead them over to his food dish and let them eat every last bite without having any for himself. They were an adorable and happy little family that gave us many smiles and laughs as they went about their chicken business. Coco Puff’s great charm was due to the large tuft of feathers on her head, which is called a topknot. This gave her an endearing appearance, but it also partially blocked her vision. She couldn’t always see where she was going, and on occasion she would run right into your legs or another object when she was running somewhere fast. She had a certain way of cocking her head to the side so that she could see out from under her feathers which was also pretty cute. She had an adventurous spirit and a lot of attitude. She towered over Lil’ Red Rooster, and when she wasn’t in the mood for love, rather than running away to escape his amorous advances, she would simply stand up as tall as she could, look down at him and give him a growl, and if that didn’t work a swift peck to the head would do the trick. All in all, she was a rather hilarious lady, and we loved her all the more for it.
Coco went quickly and peacefully which we are thankful for. She had something wrong in the egg-laying department, which may have been the cause of her demise. She only laid a couple of normal eggs early this year, then for a few weeks she started laying eggs without shells and with only the thin membrane that holds the egg together. I had not seen her lay any eggs for a few months, and I was worried. Every week or two there would be a day where she obviously didn’t feel well and would sit very still in the coop all day, with her head bent forward nearly touching the ground, and she would drink a ton of water as if trying to flush something out of her system. Then a day or two later she would be back to her normal spunky active self. I suspected these bouts of not feeling well were due to a reproductive issue, so I took her to the vet last month. It was a relief to hear the vet say that she was not laying internally and that she could not feel any eggs backed up inside her. The vet did say that her shell gland felt thin or weak, but that a chicken could live a perfectly healthy life without reproducing so that was not necessarily cause for concern. She gave us a week-long course of antibiotics just in case there was an infection in her shell gland. A few days after she finished the antibiotics, Coco had a several day long spell of not feeling well, her longest one to date, and I had a feeling that Coco’s days may be numbered. But then after about four days, she returned to her normal self and, for the last several weeks and up until Thursday evening she seemed fine.
Friday morning, I noticed that she was not feeling well. By Saturday afternoon, I could tell that things had gotten serious. She had not left the nest box yet, which was unusual. Even on days when she was not feeling well, she would still leave the nest box to get a drink of water and then usually sit on the floor by the coop door. I picked her up, and we sat on the back porch for a while. I stroked her feathers, and she sat with her eyes shut tightly which I knew was a bad sign. She was so non-responsive that I thought it was likely that the end may be near, but still I hoped she would have a few more days with us, and I considered taking her to the vet after the holiday weekend. I put her back in the nest box, and went up to the garden to plant the tomatoes. When I checked on her about an hour later, she was gone, still sitting peacefully in exactly the same pose she was in when I had set her back in the nest box. Now Millie is left without her BFF, and we are left without our Puffer Fish. Farewell funny lady, you will be missed.