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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

We had a surprise visitor this week on the Farmette – a falcon graced us with her presence. Luckily she was smaller than our free-ranging rooster. He made it safely to the cover of the bushes. Our other chickens, after screeching up a storm, huddled in the nesting boxes of their coops.

I took this pic through the window of our master bedroom;

Hungry falcon on main chicken coop

After flying to the maple tree

Peregrine Falcons are part of the wildlife of North Carolina and help keep nature in balance. If they are persistent and you need to scare them away from a free-ranging flock, firing with a shot gun works. Don’t aim at them. They are protected birds of prey. The noise will be enough. And who would want to harm this magnificent creature?

Surprisingly, the falcon did not attempt to pull our injured chicken from her pen on the ground. It was likely just too close to the house. After the falcon left, I thought of that hen and checked in. She was managing to eat and drink. Mostly, she remained slumped in the corner.

When a chicken damages a leg (especially in two spots), its fate is decided just as that of a horse. If it cannot hold itself off the ground, the earth reaches out to take it back. Splints and wraps did not work.

We had kept her in the garage in a box of pine shavings for a while, but she complained a lot and often called to her buddys outside. She was moved out front and seemed more content, but the inability to roost & groom took its toll. It was time to make a decision.

Euthanasia is an unpleasant but necessary option when injury or disease overpower us. It ends the suffering of a lost cause where the will to survive has managed to lengthen the dying process.

I talked to our son about it. “We need to kill this chicken in order to end her suffering.” Not thinking of my selfish avoidance of being the one to kill her, I continued and said. “Or, should we let the falcon take her for a meal?” He said “NO!” – not wanting to see feathers/leftovers strewn about our property. This also was the smart response, since the falcon would likely come back for more – and more.

After witnessing the botched injection of “eternal sleep potion” for a deathly ill pet at the vet’s office, humane euthanasia, in my mind,  has become “the quickest lethal method”. Blunt force, neck snapping and shooting are all fast and painless when done correctly.

I was still feeling selfish and managed to wrangle my husband into carrying out the unhappy task. I have been the poultry’s grim reaper before and will be again, just not today.

We told her that she was a good, strong girl and stroked her feathers. We told her that her pain would soon be gone.

On a farm, animals are keep in herd or flock form. Cost/practicality are crucial to the survival of a homestead that keeps livestock. Many would argue that a farmer’s methods of destroying livestock is not humane. It is an obvious subject of ethical debate.

My own take is that you do your best to make a choice and live with your decision. We wondered if her death was truly instant. We had to watch our son cry. We must look at the empty cage. And now we go back out to feed and water our beautiful flock.

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