21 March 2010

A near miss and a sad ending

The weather the past week has been lovely, warm and sunny. A cold front was expected for early Saturday. I had heard that it would stay in the upper 40's Friday night so I tucked the chickens in with no worries. Saturday morning I went out check on them. I found little Colette in a limp and weak bundle of feathers. The temperature had gotten lower than expected. I scooped her up and brought her inside.

I had asked Dan who sold them to us about what to do in cold weather. I remembered he mentioned the hair dryer so I gave the little chicken a blow dry to warm her up while thinking of the next step. I dashed back outside to get the clip light from the hen house, found a 150 watt bulb and set up a chicken infirmary in our cooler in the bathroom.  At this point I called Dan to seek further advice. He said I should get a thermometer and make sure it was around 85 degrees. The first thermometer I thought of was in the fridge, but it only goes up to 60 degrees. I remembered the thermometer on the front porch, got it and put it in the cooler. The bathroom was quite warm with the gas wall heater and the cooler is insulating. The temperauture went up and Colette soon started to peep and ruffle her feathers. I was thankful for saving her from a close call.

Crisis seemingly averted, I had to leave to go pick up Claire from a friend's house where she had spent the night. I checked on Sylvie and Celine again before leaving and they were fine in the hen house. The whole time I was gone I fretted over leaving and visualized over and over a safe and warm chicken. When we got home, we cautiously entered the bathroom. All was well. We had a peeping, happy chicken.

It was beginning to snow and the wind was strong. I thought it best at this point to bring the other two inside as well. They are bigger than Colette but still not fully grown. With the addition to the bathroom of two larger chickens, I was worried about the open flame of the wall heater so I turned it off. Colette appearing fully recovered by this time, I turned the cooler on it's side to make a cozy bed. We spent quite a long time siting in there enjoying our feathered friends.  We finally decided we could leave them so we could eat dinner and do other things. All three were walking around, making noises, looking perfectly normal.

A few hours later, Claire went into the bathroom to find a lifeless Colette on the floor. I am so sorry that she was the one to make the discovery. I had been glad that she had not experienced the morning's adventures. I hooked up the heat lamp again, but this time it was too late. Our little Colette could not be revived. The thermometer in the bathroom read 65 degrees which I thought was okay since she had been outside this past week in the low 50's. I guess she was not as strong after what she had been through earlier. I have a small electric heater which I could have turned on in there or I could have left the heat lamp on longer. We could have checked on her sooner. So many things have been going through my mind. It is very sad.

This little bird had such an endearing personality. She came running to the hen house door when we came to visit. She came to us eagerly wanting to be held and petted. Being quite young, she still peeped constantly and made sweet little cooing noises. We became quite attached in a short amount of time, Claire especially.
Colette will be missed.


  1. Oh, Jennifer - I'm so sorry. I didn't realize how small she was. I guess I assumed they were full grown, or nearly. It still seems odd to me that she had so much trouble with such a moderate temperature. But that doesn't make it any easier. I really feel for you - I've lost them and each one is a sorrow. I always blame myself. I hope when you're ready you can find another chicken to fill the void in the Three French Hens.
    Much love, Cindy

  2. Oh how sad!! I am so sorry about Colette! :( On a happy note, I am glad I found your blog!