I’m writing this post to open up my heart and share with you some of my thoughts and recent feelings.
With the popularity of keeping urban chickens, more and more people are adding a small flock to their backyard. We have these visions of cute fluffy chickens clucking around in our backyards readily leaving bright orange pastured eggs every single day.
It’s easy, everyone tells us. Feed them, make sure they have fresh water and you’ll have an over abundance of nourishing eggs, right?
The truth is, they are animals. Animals that need constant attention and with the good comes the bad.
I’m into my third year of raising urban chickens and on Monday, I lost my Golden Laced Wyandotte, Gertrude.
I am so saddened as I was honestly thinking about keeping her past her laying days. Unfortunately, she ended up dying of Myiasis. Maggots.
The temperatures in Iowa have been brutally hot. With that have come flies.
I’m a very clean person. I pick up poop every single day. I intentionally keep my coop wide open for air circulation. I change their bedding every few days and maintain a clean urban yard.
With so many annuals, perennials and vegetables in my yard, I am constantly outside and know each and every one of my girls.
I honestly had NO IDEA to even think that flies could bother my chickens in such a horrid way.
I look at my girls every day and can tell right away if something is going on, I honestly didn’t see this.
On Monday morning I went out early to give my girls fresh water, feed and vegetable scraps from the garden. Gertrude was perched up on her roost and not looking good at all.
Her eyes were drooping and my heart sank as I looked up in her vent area. Tons of maggots were crawling all over her.
I started to tear then as I couldn’t understand why this had to happen.
I ran into my garage to throw on some gloves and grab a bowl of warm water. I pulled her off the perch and as I started to clean her I noticed just how big a wound these disgusting bugs left on my girl.
I started to cry and literally fifteen minutes after cleaning her off she started to convulse and passed away.
By then my boys were wondering what was going on and gathered around me to find out why I was crying and what happened to their chicken.
All I could reply was, “mama didn’t take care of her.”
I felt horrible and so sad that she had to go through this. Through so much pain.
“Why didn’t I see this?” “How could I not have caught this earlier?” “What about the other girls?” “What about my dogs?”
I went into panic attack and immediately ran inside to google how in the world this could have happened.
Apparently this does happen and I just had no idea to even think about looking for it.
In the heat, flies will attack anything they can. She must have had a small scratch or wound and the flies went in and laid their eggs.
From what I’ve read, these maggots multiply quickly and in a matter of a couple of days you can have a problem.
I lost her.
After disposing of her, I picked up all of my other girls and made sure they were okay.
I then started to think if I could continue in chicken keeping. Could I keep doing this?
In the matter of three years I’ve lost one girl to my dog, I nursed one girl back to health from having been bit (early days of mixing in dogs with chickens), and now I lost Gertrude to maggots.
In between tending to their needs, making sure their coop is mite free and in this extreme heat adding blocks of ice to their water dish every couple of hours, could I continue?!
In that moment I felt God’s peace.
I’m doing the best that I can to raise these animals in a way that is glorifying to Him.
What is difficult for me right now is not just that she passed but in how it happened. That I know she suffered.
I’m trying to realize that this is a season and it to will pass. I have so many thoughts running through my head right now and blog posts that will stem from it.
For now, raising backyard chickens is not easy.
It takes time, commitment and passion.
It takes a heart willing to lower themselves to poop every single day.
It takes a strong soul willing to tend to an animal in need, even when there’s blood involved.
It takes a gentle spirit to love on the natural needs of a mama and her babes.
Praise the Lord for our family farmers and the time, commitment and passion they have to raising animals as God intended.
Go hug your family farmer or urban/homesteader today, they might just need it.
In His love,