A couple weeks ago (Was it last week? Now I can't remember) I found one of our favorite hens huddled up next to the water bucket. The feathers on the top of her head were gone, her crown was bleeding a bit, and she couldn't walk. I took her inside, cleaned her up, and gave her some plain yogurt, fresh water, and apple cider vinegar.
The first 2 days she seemed to be improving but still wouldn't walk. We kept her inside, hand fed her, and changed poopy chicken towels daily. She'd stand for a minute at a time, but that was about it for leg use. The next day it was worse, and the following day she seemed to have had a stroke and the entire left side of her body was paralyzed.
She was a chicken that only had use of 1/4 of her body.
We were faced with a choice of taking her to the vet to be put down or putting her down ourselves. We were also faced with a 3 year old who has taken ownership of the chickens and is far more attached to them than even we, the ones who spent days hand feeding the sweet Rhodie Molly, were.
The next morning Mabel wanted to know why her hen was no longer in the cage in the kitchen. We talked about it and I briefly tried to cover it up by saying she went somewhere nicer and wasn't coming back. M had far too many questions for me to keep up the guise. Instead I decided maybe coloring was the answer. I drew a red hen, Mabel and I colored and talked. We thought about Molly and reflected on what a sweet pet she was. I'm still not sure how to explain that sort of loss to a pre-schooler, but Mabel took it fairly well and we have a sweet way to honor and remember our favorite red hen.