my pet chicken had cancer

Liz the lap chicken

As you know, we took Liz to the vet to have her put to sleep. It cost 124.95, but the peace of mind was worth it. I opted for the shot and not the gas chamber. It was nicer for her I think, and it was nicer for me too. She got a shot of sedative and then fell asleep as I petted her. Not that I think all chickens like to be petted (cause I don’t think they do) but Liz was our lap chicken. We knew that she had some kind of terminal illness. She was finding it hard to swallow and it was getting worse.

The vet offered to have a necropsy done. Apparently Penn State will do them for free. Anyhow I got the results back this week…she had cancer of the crop. An adenoma (though I’m not sure if that’s the right thing–reading around it sounds like that’s an ovarian thing?–dunno.) It was a relief to know that it wasn’t worms or something we could have helped her out with. We didn’t get her body back for burial, but I thought the opportunity for learning was important.

While we’ve been sad about Liz’s departure, someone I think has been more sad….
We went away for the weekend after I took Liz to the vet and when we got back, we saw this….

which one of these chickens looks like she just lost her best friend?

which one of these chickens looks like she just lost her best friend?

Yep that’d be Bubbles. We used to say that Liz was Bubbles’ be-otch. The two of them used to hang out. They were best buds. And Bubbles would come over and try to attack me if I was holding Liz. Sheesh! Bubbles is a mean bird.

But she is a pretty one, and I haven’t really posted pictures of the birds when they’re not at their best. And yeesh, Bubbles you looked a mess!

one molty Bubbles

one molty Bubbles

I’ve never seen her molt so fast and so much. She lost all the feathers on her back at once. Weird.

Bubbles' bare back

Bubbles’ bare back

One thing that’s neat about a Bubbles molt–her feather shaft things look BLUE when they come in. Kind of neat. (If you have an aversion to those scenes in the Black Swan–cover your eyes!) Of course, chickens are due for a molt, they haven’t been laying any eggs for a bit and it’s common in the heat of the summer.┬áBut they do say that chickens can molt if they’re really stressed out. And I do believe, that she was. Poor girl.

my blue swan

my blue swan

One other finding from the necropsy…Liz apparently had some testicular tissue in her ovaries! I don’t really know how common that is, but it probably explains why she never laid any eggs. Poor girl had a lot going on. She really was one special bird!


Liz the lap chicken
July 16, 2013, 9:37 pm
Filed under: chickens, liz | Tags: , , , ,
Elizabeth, March 9, 2009-July 11, 2013

Liz, March 9, 2009-July 11, 2013

After a lengthy illness, I took Liz to the vet for the last time last Thursday. She’d been sick for a while and we took her to the vet in early May. She didn’t get better but gradually declined, and finally she seemed to be unable to enjoy her life around the farm.

We were happy that she got to enjoy the summer, and she did, running around and dustbathing as she loved to do. She had some kind of thing that impeded her ability to swallow. She didn’t throw up, but struggled to get the food down. It started slowly, a burp really, and over time it got louder and her swallowing action more violent. She would stand up really tall and drop her wings down to manage it. She didn’t lose her appetite, or her sweet personality. But she lost a lot of weight, and towards the last days she wasn’t too interested in tooling around, but was content to lie by the kitchen door. Her last day she came and stood next to me in the garden. I could tell it was time.

She didn’t feel any pain, and she went to sleep while I petted her.

Silly chicken, she is greatly missed.

Cute as a button

Cute as a button

She was the poster child for cute chicken. I love this picture of Liz, aka Queen Elizabeth the third. She was the first chicken to touch the earth.

Liz outside for the first time.

Liz outside for the first time.

She got pushed out of the box and ended up being the first chicken to go outside. Maybe that experience scarred her, as she was always so sensitive. She refused to go outside when it was snowy, she hated cold feet! She also had the largest ugliest feet of any of the chickens!

She was our special needs chicken in many ways..

yeah i'm special, you know it!

yeah i’m special, you know it!

She never laid an egg. For a year or so every once in awhile she seemed to be ready to lay one, she would sit in the nest box, mill about looking like she was ready, but then. Nope, no egg. Eventually she stopped having any urge at all. We thought we might lose her for that. But no she lived on.

She was the lowest chicken on the totem pole. The other chickens picked on her constantly. Maybe because she was so pretty!

i know my place!

i know my place!

I’m sure that was hard on her, but she found other ways to amuse herself. Like….
long dustbaths. She wouldn’t always come when called if she was bathing. She liked getting a free ride back to the coop.
chasing the goats. the goats were both very afraid of Liz, who’d track them down, and peck them.

i'm gonna git you sydney!

i’m gonna git you sydney!

jumping to the top of the coop door.

watch out for the open door

watch out for the open door

When you opened the door, she’d come over and if you weren’t careful she’d jump up on the top of the door. Really hard to get her down from up there!

And she loved naps with people. She was our lap chicken. If you sat down for a minute, she’d come over and peck your leg asking to be picked up. Then she’d give a few cursory pecks to your lap and settle down for a good long nap. She just really liked the people. And they really liked her.

pretty Liz

pretty Liz

A very nice Buddhist woman I met this summer told me that they believe that if you treat animals really really well, they can come back reincarnated as people! So if you see that the new prince or princess to be is pretty, opinionated and hates the cold–well I’m hoping that little Queen Liz made it through to her rightful place in the world!

how do you know when to turn on the heat lamp?
February 9, 2012, 8:08 pm
Filed under: chickens, goats, knuckles, liz

Them chickens is cold tonight! Look at them all in a pile. Actually they like to start out this way every night. It’s a big showdown to see who gets the best spot on the roof over their nest box. Silly chickens. I thought it was pretty funny how they were arranged tonight–head to toe!

pile of chickens

"that's right, i'm on top of the pile tonight," knuckles

I always look in on them when I go out to close their pop door. Sometimes I give them a pet. Knuckles, normally so friendly and sweet, likes to give me a peck or two–telling me hey lady don’t make me lose my spot here! That’s what she was saying in picture #2 I think.

The girls had a brief outing before dark today. There was a bit of snow on the ground, so they did the expedition walk–following one another in a line. So cute!

making the trek to the barn

liz stayed home as she doesn't like to get her feet wet!

While the chickens were enjoying a barn patrol, the goaties and the doode and me took a walk.

check out the dongo's beard!!!

chickens nearly three years old!

Some stuff fell in behind a drawer in the kitchen today so i couldn’t shut the drawer. Lo and behold lookee what I found under there!!

5 chickens from ohio

Hard to believe you could put a price on our little flock, but there it is. Five little bundles of joy, all for 2.53 a piece! (2.70 for the mean but beautiful Bubbles!).

Let’s take a look back at the little cherubs as they near their 3rd birthday!! Can you believe it?

There's Bubbles on the left upper corner second from the top.

here's another shot of bubbles with liz and a barred rock butt

liz telling bubbles to sample life outside the box. notice edwina looking for something. she hasn't had her first worm yet!

What a great adventure it’s been. It’s good to remind us of the old days, as we’re contemplating another run west to get another mini-flock this spring! Are you planning on getting some chickens this year?? I’d love to hear about it!

Birds have feelings..
May 5, 2011, 9:01 am
Filed under: bubbles, chickens, edwina, knuckles, liz | Tags: , , , ,

Thanks, some dude at Bristol, for doing a study about chicken’s feelings. Anyone who owns chickens can attest to the fact that not only do they feel empathy, but they feel annoyance, anticipation, etc etc.

Yesterday, for instance, I heard annoyance–poor knuckles got kicked out the nest box so that bubbles (the not so empathetic chicken) could have a go. Poor knuckles stood at the coop door broadcasting her displeasure to all in the turdacres domain. I’ve heard Liz make these distinctive (and screamingly loud) repetitive bu-gahs, and lately have seen a pushed out Edwina do them, and now Knuckles. Is it, oh my god hurry up! i need the nest box!! hurry up! There is definitely a chicken language. I wonder who’s studying that?

arctic explorers–chickens take a walk
February 18, 2011, 5:08 pm
Filed under: bubbles, chickens, edwina, knuckles, liz, spanky | Tags: ,

an icy road but adventure calls

4 set out, liz stays behind

they must stay on the path!

Will they make it? Will they find their goal? What is their goal, anyway?

they find nirvana!

Ah yes, a chance to scratch in the feed room. And,

and a sunny spot for a snooze!

Meanwhile, Liz stayed behind. She doesn’t like cold feet! Here’s what she had to say about it:

Silly chicken. She didn’t like being left alone, but there was no way she was going to freeze her huge toes. So, I ended up carrying her over to enjoy the sun for a few minutes. Spoiled chickens!

how not to name your chicken
September 2, 2010, 8:28 pm
Filed under: chickens, liz | Tags: , , ,

Think carefully, because I think we’re finding that the chickens kind of match their names. So think twice before you name your chicken Queen Elizabeth the Third. Naturally she is a beautiful thing. But she is also a bit snooty. She doesn’t deign to lay eggs–that’s below her class. Instead she wanders around, kind of clueless as to what the other chickens are up to. She does her own thing on her own schedule.

Where’s Liz? is our common question. All of the other chickens have returned, but she is off in la la land checking out her domain, or preening her yellow feathers. She is our lap chicken. She will peck at your legs until you pick her up and then she will hunker down and have a nice comfy nap on your lap.

And today when all of the other chickens zip over to get a hand out of grain, what does our Liz do? Well it’s nap time. The bright sunshine requires a nice stretch out and snooze. I don’t hear anyone calling, do you? I do wish they would shut up and they are interrupting my pleasant dreams. Are you getting a theme here? Our nap chicken.

And so, rather than clumsily trundle through the grass, why should she get her nice huge white feet dirty, after all, instead she waits for her first class ride. She’ll take a ride any day. And she’s the only chicken who you can transport with one hand under her body, her legs hanging down casually, her wings kind of outstretched. She is so relaxed because this is her birthright. No one would ever drop the Queen!!

are you sure I belong in here with these chumps?

naturally the all chicken band was called liz and the turdettes

i may be the lowest chicken in the pecking order but i rule those goats!

i do NOT like the cold, get me a heat lamp please!

up where I belong