October 28, 2011

Loss on the Homestead

I just took this picture a few days ago of our little flock of white Black Tailed Japanese Bantams.  They are the cutest little things!  Little did I know when I took this picture, that a few days later we would be down to only one little hen.

We've had the rooster for a few years.  Ever since we got Mr. Rooster, our daughter has looked and looked for hens to match him.  Finally this summer, we found a pair.  We carefully housed them separate from the others and Mr. Rooster was very proud to have his very own girls!  

One day, our daughter discovered that one of the hens was egg bound.  She researched different treatments online and set to work to save her poor hen.  She carefully soaked the hens backside in a bucket of warm water and gently massaged the swollen vent with bag balm three times a day and placed her by herself in a small cage where she could rest.  All of her hard work paid off when the hen's vent went back to normal and she began to lay eggs again.  What a glorious, rewarding day that was!  I was very proud of our daughter for all of her hard work and devotion to her hen.  Sadly, she is the only little Japanese Bantam we have left today.

Yesterday morning we let the chickens out as normal.  Since the garden is done for the year, we've been letting them run loose completely, which I love to do.  The bigger chickens haven't spent one second bothering the bantams much to our delight, so we are pretty sure they had nothing to do with our troubles.

Last night when our daughter went to close them up in their chicken coop, she discovered one of her little Bantam hens was missing and that Mr. Rooster seemed very sick.  He was very droopy and had liquid coming out of his mouth like froth.  We didn't think he'd be alive this morning and we were right.  Yesterday morning they were perky happy chickens.  This morning we were down two chickens.  We did comb the farm last night looking for the little hen and thought she may have just roosted somewhere on her own.  This morning there is literally no sign of her anywhere!  Not even one single feather to say that something bad happened.  

We have had our share of coons, possums, hawks and even the resident fox giving us fits, and we are familiar with the signs that are left.  Nothing this time....nada.  It seems strange to me that she would turn up missing and he would be sick enough to die all on the same day.  

We debated that he lost a fight defending her, but there wasn't a scratch on him.  Another thought was that they got into something that poisoned them, but we have no idea what that would've been.  We are strictly organic here and don't have anything that would poison them.  Mice poison was used earlier this spring, but that is long gone.

It simply baffles us.

However, life goes on.  

Homesteading puts us in a state of constantly learning and adapting.  Not knowing what happened puts us at a disadvantage because we like to learn from our mistakes.  Sometimes though, these things just happen no matter what you do and we are figuring that out one day at a time.  

The one constant on the homestead is that things always change, but its the steady rhythm of living and learning while living simply that we cherish.  Our joys and successes far outweigh the sad times here and for that we are grateful to our Father for His hand of protection and His many blessings upon our lives.


  1. It breaks my heart when these things happen. I feel some how "responsible" even though we do all we can to keep happy healthy animals. It is the nature of homesteading though. The show must go on. Sorry for your loss...hope you have a bright happy weekend!

  2. I'm sorry for your loss and please let your daughter know that I applaud her on her dedication to saving her hen when she was egg bound. I grew up on a small farm/homestead with chickens,ducks,geese, rabbits, goats, horses, dog, and cats. But know I only have my dogs, cats, and horses but I'm enjoying reading about your homestead. It brings back good memories.

    God bless and protect your homestead,

  3. I'm so sorry for your loss. Those are quite the attractive little bantams.

    A couple of days before we butchered chickens we had a rooster hanging his head & seemed thinner all of a sudden. We watched him and looked around at all the others checking each one carefully. Ours hadn't been out. The day of butchering it seemed that rooster's head was up and he seemed ok. Hubby saved him for last and lo n behold the rooster was not for consumption, he was down to skin & feathers practically. Off to the compost for him, don't know what happened and he was one of the new ones from spring.

    Congrats to your daughter for doing an awesome job taking care of her hen. That took a lot of time and patience.

  4. We are slowly but surely learning more about what they can contract. We learned from the Countryside magazine that it is best to keep a small dose of apple cider vinegar in their drinking water to keep them healthy and several of our neighbors recommend dosing the water once a month with some medicine to prevent coccidiosis which one of our roosters died from when the heat got bad. He got down to skin and feathers and even though he began to perk up, it was just a few more days before he died. We don't like giving them any type of medication at all, so its a hard decision to make when something can spread through the whole flock.

  5. Hi! I stumbled onto your blog today and enjoyed reading several of your posts. My daughter and her husband would identify with you on your love of chickens. They also live in the Ozarks, and enjoy raising organic food.


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