... Gone to that great henrun in the sky. Thank you to our sponsors Toyota and Fisher & Paykel.
The downside of having any sort of pet is that they live shorter lives than us, and inevitably one day you have to say goodbye. Toby's time is coming, I think, though he's happy and well enough at the moment. Our other pets are equally elderly, but healthier than him so far (although the Labrador has cataracts and may need a corneal replacement. That or a seeing-eye dog).
And chickens are done with this mortal coil in much shorter order than regular pets (apart from my Uncle Jim's hen, who must be about 10 years old by now and waits on the doorstep with the cat when he and my aunt go out), so over the years I've buried quite a few. The first one has a paving slab with her initial (E for Eggatha) on it in tile mosaic. The others from her batch are under plain concrete pavers. Those since have been put out with the rubbish. That's life. Or rather, death.
Eggatha was the first one who needed putting down, because of a prolapse. I swotted up the relevant diagrams and instructions from my copy of Keeping Chickens, braced myself, and went out to wring her neck. I remembered a friend of mine being told once by a farmer dispatching lambs (why? no idea now) by whacking their heads against the Landrover's wheels "You can't do it too hard!" So I positioned myself, held her head, and yanked. There was a horrible click, and squawks from both Eggatha and me. I dropped her and staggered backwards - and watched in horror as Eggatha stirred, stood up, shook her head and wandered off, probably thinking, "Mmm, that feels better."
So next I tried chopping her head off. We don't have an axe any more, here in the suburbs, and all I had was the big kitchen knife. I got a block of wood, lay her neck on it, thought briefly about Henry VIII, and whacked. Except my spirit was weak, and so was my arm, and the knife bounced harmlessly off her feathers and Eggatha wandered off again.
There comes a time when all you can do is throw money at a problem; so I paid $40 for the vet to give her the Black Needle, slightly bemused when he told me, "Now you won't be eating the meat, will you?"
But with Hoochie, who became paralysed and spaced out, and who I've been force-feeding three times a day for 10 days with no improvement, I thought I could ease her passing with poison (yes, the woman's method). Half a sleeping pill ground up and squirted in water down her throat would do the trick, I thought - it does with me. But here's the thing: chickens are a different species, and apparently that's important when it comes to chemical susceptibility. No effect whatsoever. Amazing.
So today it was The Box of Death: a carton with a hole, the Corolla with its engine running, and then the freezer, just in case. Poor old Hoochie. But she did have a nice life. (In the photo above, that's her sunbathing. They do that, you know.)
And today's travel connection? Oddly, very few of my trips have involved slaughtering animals. But on the other hand, there was this.
* To the bewildered searchers who came here with quite a different 'hoochie mamma' in mind, I must apologise - and explain that I did have two big black hens who were Tina and Turner, but Tina died, so then I had Turner and Hooch, her brown sidekick, who became Hoochie as I got more fond of her, and then Hoochie Mamma as a mark of respect for her seniority. So. I hope you have better luck elsewhere. (Turner has Tourette's, by the way, but that's another story.)