Co-Parenting, Chicken Style

I’ve talked a lot about mother hens here on this blog. Go figure, huh?  We seem to always have baby chicks being hatched.  This spring/summer especially has been a boom of broody hens.  More than I’ve even mentioned, to be honest.

Pavelle, Rapunzel, Ashley, Tweety, Claire, Ashley (again), Eugenie, and Pavelle again.  Ashley got put in Broody Jail twice after her escapades in raising babies last year.   Poor Claire spent 6 weeks being broody because her first set of eggs didn’t hatch (some died, some were duds).

It’s Claire, along with her daughter from last year’s hatch, Eugenie, who are the subject of today’s post.

You see, when Claire lost the first set of eggs, I decided to give her new, because Claire is a proven good mother and I felt sorry for her losing her babies she worked so hard for.  Eugenie had started to go broody the day or two before and I was deciding what to do with her when I gave Claire her new eggs.

For whatever reason, I gave both of them four eggs each, for a total of eight chicks if they all hatched.

Last Wednesday night, the first chick began break out of his shell under Claire.  He was STILL breaking out of it Thursday morning when I returned to the coop to find Eugenie had two fluffy little chicks under her, and Claire had one more pipping.

By Friday morning, we had a total of four chicks, one dead EE (still in eggs) and two duds. ( and one which had been broken by Pavelle the week prior, because she decided she needed to go broody again,too, and needed to use Claire’s nest to do it.)

So… four babies, two mother hens.

I tried to put them in separate areas of the coop, but as has been the theme this year, the mommas’ both rejected my cat carriers in favor of the floor under the nesting boxes – – AND they decided to co-raise their four chicks together.

The first couple of days were rough all the way around. Both hens  were in extreme broody momma mode and in addition to chasing other chickens away from their wee little ones, Claire would lunge at Eugenie and chase her off, too.  Undaunted, Eugenie would com back, but had too much respect for her mother to chase back.

The other hens started laying eggs outside because it was too much drama to try and lay in the coop.

But as the weekend and the early part of this week progressed, mothers and babies fell into a rhythm that worked of all of them.

I’ve been amazed, watching them navigate a very confusing social situation.  Once the initial ‘turf wars’ were over and Claire accepted that Eugenie wasn’t going to give up her rights to her babies, they ironed out a system of rearing.  Co-parenting at it’s finest.

It began in the coop, with one mother sitting on some of the chicks while the other taught one or two to scratch and dig.  Then they would swap.

They babies usually sleep under Claire at night, while Eugenie sleeps in the nest above them.

Claire took the first brave chick outdoors at three days old, while Eugenie mothered the other three in the coop.

When all four babies were in the coop playing and eating, Claire would teach while Eugenie stood guard against threats (or perceived threats) from other hens.

After a few days, Claire got all four of them outside.  Eugenie followed and they took turns showing the babies how to dig in the dirt to find yummies.

When they go outside, one mother (usually Claire) leads them down the ramp and the other (usually Eugenie) follows behind the stragglers, ensuring that no baby is left behind.

The little yellow/cinnamon colored one likes to sit on both her/his mothers’ backs, which I read somewhere is a sign of love and affection.   Of belonging to that hen.   I guess that means the babies really do belong to both of them, no matter who they hatched under.

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Here is the happy, if unorthodox, little family of six.

I’m not sure if I will ever let two hens hatch out at the same exact time again, but I have no regrets about letting Claire and her daughter raise these ones together. It’s working for them, strange as it may seem to us.

And This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Every since I watched Abby hatch and raise her wee little Pipsqueak, I have been in love with the process of hens raising chicks.  They learn so much more from their mothers and it’s nicer having them with the flock rather than needing to be in the brooder box.

So, when Rapunzel went broody right after Pavelle did, I jumped at the chance to let her raise Little Dude’s 4-H chicks.  We even let her hatch some of them by hand. 

It seemed to go well at first.  We snuck the three who hatched from the incubator down to Rapunzel in the middle of the night and slipped them under her.  She snuggled in and seemed content to sit on them.

They all seemed really happy together for the first week and I had a lovely set of Week 1 photos to show off… and then at about the week-and-a-half mark, that all changed.

Rapunzel, who had by this time, been broody for 5 weeks already while we waited for the special order eggs to come, decided that she wanted to take her broody outdoors and see the sunshine.  They’d already been moving about the coop under her supervision and that didn’t seem like an unreasonable request.

However, at some point in time, she had begun pecking at the feet of some of the little ones.  I noticed the first one on Friday night.  Little ‘Cutie’ – one of the little gray ones we couldn’t identify – had bloody and swollen feet and as I watched, Rapunzel kept pecking at them.   I removed the chick for the day, treated the feet with Vetricin and Scarlex Oil, and put her back under Rapunzel at night.  By Saturday morning, a second chick – the Grumpy one -was also sporting bloody tootsies.  I removed BOTH chicks, treated them again, and put them in the broody.

I spent a good part of that Saturday observing Rapunzel with the other chicks.   She would sit on them, warming them, with no problems at all.  Then, she would get up, go to scratch in the dirt, call for them to come see what she had found, and then forcefully pecked the feet of the first chicks to approach.   She got Rocky (Little Dude’s Barred Rock) and the light Brahma chick a couple of times while I observed.

Sunday, Cutie and Grumpy were walking better and healing up some, so I risk putting them back with their family.  Rapunzel accepted them under her, but during the day, the scene of ‘call them over and then peck’ repeated.   She would target Cutie, Grumpy and now Rocky, who now had a wound forming on one foot.  Now and again, she would go after the little Brahma, too, possibly because of his feathered feet.

She only did this when they were out playing and eating.  If they were under her, she was a happy momma, bucking softly and talking to them.

I had the sinking suspicion that she would slowly work her way through all the chicks, pecking and maiming all their feet.  So, in order to save them, I took them all away from her.

These pictures, below, are the last pictures of them as a happy family, before the blood bath began.

It was heart breaking to them away.  You see?  She wanted them.  She wanted to sit on them and nurture them.  She paced the coop for days, talking them through the walls even though she couldn’t see them and when she figured out where the brooder was in relation to the coop, she jumped up on the roost to peer over at them, making screeching noises at me to “get away and give me my babies back!”

They, in turn, called out for her, alarmed and upset and NOT happy in the brooder.  Who can blame them?  She was momma and it was a strange box with a red light.

Every morning, I put her in with them, thinking maybe she would forget about their toes (which were healing nicely) and that just maybe I would give them back to her.

Each time, she went to them, calling and bucking softly, sitting with them and letting them gather under her, and they’d be fine for about 10-15 minutes.  Then she would get  up, go to explore the brooder and scratch to show them things… call to them to come look… and yes, you guessed it – attack their toes again.  Cutie, Grumpy, Rocky… then anyone else.

This happened thee days in a row.

I gave up trying to let her try.

I don’t know why she did it.  She certainly acted like she wanted them.   But I couldn’t let her ruin their feet.   As it is, poor little Cutie has one toes that is now broken and misshapen.  He/she can walk on it, but it will never be the same.

So I stopped letting her in to see them.  This was still heart breaking.  She would alternate between returning to the coop to look for them and following Pavelle and her chicks around like a forgotten nanny.

In the meantime, I had another dilemma to deal with.   How to raise these chicks so that the flock -who had just started to get to know them – didn’t forget them?  I want a seamless integration and with the last re-design of the coop, we can no longer split it down the middle.

During a string of hot days, hot enough that 2 week old chicks wouldn’t need a brooder lamp, we had the idea.  DH built a little playpen for them.  On the hot days, I can take them outdoors, for a couple hours at least, with water and food.

They get the sunlight, grass and bugs their one-time momma tried to introduce them to, and the other chickens get to socialize with them.

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The babies in their new playpen.   When I let them out on nice, warm days, the hens and Dots come other and say their hellos and then leave them alone, for the most part.   Notice Rapunzel there on the left?

The first two days we used it, Rapunzel went to them and attempted to talk and call to them through the chicken wire.  Only half the chicks would respond to her.  They were starting to forget ‘momma’ even if momma was not ready to forget them.

I tried – once – to put her in with them outdoors… to the same, sad and heart wrenching conclusion as the other times.

It just isn’t meant to be.

I don’t know if 5 weeks broody was too much for her brain, or if she still thought they needed to be eggs, or if 7 was too many chicks for a new mother hen to take on.   Or if broody hormones made her insane.   I. Don’t. Know.   Sometimes, the only answer is that ‘some hens don’t make good mothers.’

Which is sad, because as a Buff Orpington, she made a wonderful broody.  She went quickly, stayed with the same next, was dedicated to her eggs.

But I don’t think I can risk giving her babies again.   I could let her hatch and I could raise, maybe, but she couldn’t be trusted not to ruin their feet again.  Could she?

As of the writing of this post, Rapunzel has gotten over the ‘baby thing’ entirely and gone back to Hen Things.  She is pissed that Pip is gone.  He was her chosen boyfriend and Luke does nothing for her.

I need to get more pictures of Grumpy, Cutie, the light Brahma and Rocky.  It’s harder in the brooder because they are quick and scared.

Chipmunk, Goth Chick and CW are all feathered out enough to start flying and they have been, as you can see from the pictures, coming out of the brooder to explore the world.  These three adventurers are bonding with myself and Little Dude because they sit out there and talk to us while we do morning chores.   Chipmunk is especially friendly.

By next week, they will be old enough to withstand 75-80 degree temps, so they should be outdoors, in their playpen, a little more often.  Unless it rains.   I have been bringing Pavelle’s chicks to say hello to them, in the hopes that they can be ‘cousins’ once I try to integrate.   Eggy is terrified of them.  That will be fun.

My Pet Chicken finally gave me an updated version of which breeds we have.

Chipmunk – still a Partridge Welsummer.   Also, accorrding to this site, a little pullet.  Because she still has her ‘mascara’ on her eyes.

CW – still a Columbian Wyandotte.  Gender unknown.

Rocky – still a barred Plymouth Rock.   Gender also unknown.

The little Brahma is still a little Brahma.   Little Dude calls him/her ‘Rap’ and I don’t know why.

Goth Chick, the all black one, is no longer (or never was) a Svart Hona.  Instead, according to the breeders, Goth Chick is one of My Pet Chicken’s ‘Mad Scientist’ chicks. They are calling them ‘customed crosses’ and did not tell me what when into the making of this chick.  Possibly Svart Hona, possible Cemani?  Possible God knows what?    Supposedly, if it is a hen, it could lay green eggs.

Cutie and Grumpy are both different flavors of Rocks.   One is a Silver Penciled Rock and the other is a light Barred Plymouth Rock…. so essentially, the same as Rocky only gray and white, not black and white.   They both have barring on the wings now.  I think they will look very similar, to be honest.

I’m going to end this post with some random pics from this week.  We had a deer visit the pasture, and half the chickens were terrified.  Pavelle chased it because it was too close to her babies.  It was amusing.

 
And that’s about it for this week. I am having surgery on Monday, the 26th, so if there aren’t updates for a while, this would be why. When I return, I promise pictures of the Brooder Babies, who should be more feathered out by then.
 

 

Rainy Tuesday Update

So, it’s raining today, with little patches of sunshine here and there.  The weekend was pretty much the same, but the week was pretty exciting around the barnyard and pasture.

First off… we’ve had visitors of the nasty variety.   Two fat brown woodchucks who think they own the place.   Dad shot one sneaking around the garden and caught the other in a trap he placed by their hole.

A couple of days later, we caught this opossum in the same trap.  Which means they are sharing the holes under the barn.

Dad wasn’t targeting the possum, because he read somewhere that they eat ticks. I don’t know if that’s true, but the DO eat eggs and young chicks, and can also kill adult chickens. I’m glad we are one possum less this week.

The neighbor’s white turkeys also paid a visit (which I didn’t get a picture of), but the chickens are getting used to them being around.

Ashley decided to go broody, and spent most of the weekend in Broody Jail.

Now, I know I have said in the past that I wasn’t going to use the Broody Breaker method anymore and just give my hens eggs.  But this hen is a special case.  This is Ashley – she who lost her babies 2 times in the fist week of their lives, kept leaving nest and getting too confused to go back to it, and then raised them to be neurotic weird freaks.  (example, Felix… and Perdie who STILL doesn’t trust me.)   So… no eggs for Ashley.

Besides which, Pavelle’s babies are two weeks old today and Rapunzel’s hatch/incubator babies are due to be hatching today.  Remember?  The 4-H project?   So yeah… I don’t need more babies just yet.  Especially not from a hen I don’t trust.

And while Ashley cooled out in Broody Jail, DH and Little Dude made another attempt to dry out the swampy areas in the middle of the chicken pasture.  Last year, DH made a pond.  This year, he’s spent days (and days and days) digging trenches trying to find where the underground springs run.

The chickens LOVE it because trenches mean mud, dirt, worms, bugs… stuff for them to do and see and EAT.  So they really love helping DH with his trench project.

And lastly what post would be complete without something about Pavelle and her babies?

This past week, Pavelle decided that she didn’t like the cat carrier as a nest, so she moved her babies out of it and up into one of the laying boxes.  They only sleep there at night, because the other thing they REALLY discovered this week was the great outdoors.  She takes them into the tunnels, the run and even into the barnyard.  They have not yet ventured into the greater chicken pasture, but still, the spend a good portion of the day outside, getting whatever yummies nature has to offer.   Whatever it is, they always have full crops when I see them, so it must be good.  🙂

This is Feather Butt, aka The One With The Feathered Feet. If you look closely…

… I *think* Feather Butt might also have a mini-crest. It’s not as pronounced as Pavelle’s was, but it sure looks like one to me, there on the top of his/her head.

 

Happy 2nd Week-aVersary, little Pavelle-Babies!

Broody Girls

It’s spring, and after a long and snowy winter, in which the hens spent more time in the coop than outdoors.  The weather is warming up, the grass is growing.  Flowers, weeds and bugs are everywhere.  Life is good if you’re a chicken.

A couple of weeks ago, several of my hens started exhibiting signs of being broody.   Hanging out in the nests longer, or later in the day.  Puffed up feathers and growling or yelling while they are in the nest.  Growling and yelling at other hens when they are off the nest.

This kind of thing happens every spring.  Hens thinking that maybe they want to go brood on some eggs and raise some babies.  Its a natural, hormonal instinct for chickens, albeit one that the hatcheries have tried to breed out of their birds because egg/meat production is more profitable than hens sitting on eggs.   But if you’re a back yard chicken owner, homesteader, or farmer who wants a self-sustaining flock, a broody hen might be what you’re looking for.

My first year as a chicken owner, I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know if I wanted broody hens.  Most the websites and blogs who talk about broodies talk about how to broody break them, because most people want eggs.   And I had Abby, who went broody less than two months after laying her first egg.   I broke her the first time, but decided when she did it again a month later, that it wasn’t worth trying to break her again, and just gave her eggs.

Watching Abby raise her chick – the rooster now known on this blog as Pip – was all it took.  I was bitten hard by the bug, and now wait with anticipation for the sign of broodies I can give eggs to.  There is something of wonder about watching a mother hen raise her Littles, seeing them explore the world at her side.  Learn and grow, and become a part of the flock.

I also like seeing the way genetics plays out in the 2nd Gen chicks.  I have a small group of ‘barnyard mix’ hens and two mix roosters who are all very unique in their looks and personalities.

So… anyway… I had five hens who started to act like they might go broody.  Penelope, Claire, Julia, Rapunzel and Pavelle.

Penelope an Julia really didn’t do anything.  They did that last year, too.  Walked around bucky for a week or so and then just stopped.   I don’t expect this year to be different.

Claire is STILL puffing up while she’s on a nest and sometimes while she is off it.  Given that she actually DID go broody last spring, I’m watching her closely.  She might.  And she was a good momma, so I would have no qualms about giving her eggs.

Rapunzel went HARD. Rapunzel is a Buff Orpington and Orpingtons are known to be goody broodies.  Rapunzel spent the least time ‘going through the motions’ and after a couple of “well, maybe” days, she hopped in a nest and committed to sitting on ceramic eggs.   She is very dedicated to them, and I’m going to let her stick with the ceramic eggs because I have special plan for her.  Little Dude is going to be doing an Embryology project for 4-H, which means we will be hatching eggs in an incubator and documenting every step of the way.   I have eggs coming from My Pet Chicken, because Little Dude wanted Barred Rocks.  So we have 4 Barred Rock eggs and 6 “assorted” eggs, which could be any breeds, coming later this week.  I’ve decided that I will be giving Rapunzel the chicks that hatch from those eggs.  Hopefully, she will accept them as her own.  Otherwise, I will have to put them in the brooder and raise them separate of the rest of the flock.

In the meantime, Pavelle is sitting on six eggs.  Three are hers, and three came from Padme, the little Easter Egger hen.  They are the smallest eggs I have, even though Pavelle is very impressive when she is puffed up and screaming at you, she is still a small hen.  Any of the babies she raised will be bigger than her at 6 weeks of age.

If anyone else goes broody in the between time – I’m looking at you, Claire – I will probably share the wealth, rather than give more eggs.  Claire, for example, could take on some of the 4-H babies, so Rapunzel, who is a new mother, doesn’t have to raise a potential ten babies on her own.  But that is a big IF that has a lot of variables.  IF Claire or anyone else goes broody in the next 3-4 weeks.  IF the incubation is successful and all the eggs hatch.  I’ve never used an incubator before and I’m borrowing one from DH’s aunt for the project.  So many variables.

In the last picture, you can see that Pavelle and ‘Punzel are in a prime location. Pavelle will steal eggs from the nests around her, and I constantly have to check underneath her for extras. Which is funny because one time, she had three extras and they were sticking out because she is so small they don’t all fit!

 


Pavelle

Rapunzel

Maicey Update 1 

It’s Sunday and Maicey has been in the med cage since Friday afternoon, being treated for her wound – most likely a spur injury – with Scarlex oil , vitamin B and lots of rest away from the Boys.

It looks like her wound is healing nicely.

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This is how it looks this morning.  It appears to losing nicely and even though I haven’t treated it since last night, I was able to touch it without her showing signs of distress.

Compared to what it looked like Friday, I’m calling it good and on the mend.

As of last night, Maicey was back to acting like herself and not the scared little rabbit I described in the last post.   She spent most of her exercise time trying to get back into the coop with the rest of the flock, as well as trying to fly into the rafters.

Because, let’s face it, chickens are social animals and she’s been kept away from her family.   Even if it is for her own good.  Which it is, because if we put her back with them before she is better healed, she could get re-injured.

As a compromise, I’ve decided to start letting her out into the tunnels during the day time.  They were built, as you may recall, to help last spring’s brooder babies to integrate with the big ones.   We had them split on the other half of the coop, and the tunnels gave them a place to go outside in a safe an protected environment until the Integration.

Mostly, now they are a place the chickens rarely go.  A change of pace or a place to explore with curiosity.

But for Maicey, they could provide her with more space to walk in, a pace to dig and dirt bathe, green stuff to eat … and yes, access to her friends while she heals.

The curious thing is, her flock mates have kept her company today. A lot. I’ve been down to check on them several times this afternoon and there have been chickens in the run communing with her all morning.

Also, Dots got his mani-pedi today, too.  I’ll post something about that later.  🙂

 

 

How Did I Miss This?

Aka, the post in which I admit I’m not as observant as I’d like. 

A few posts ago, back in March, I posted that I had a possible broody hen.  Our little Maicey spent more than a week debating whether or not to commit to sitting on eggs, but in the end, did not.  

One of my constant readers, however, noted in the video I posted that Maicey was limping.  

I confirmed, yes she was, but I couldn’t find an injury and after a couple days of pretending to go broody, the limp had stopped.  

Flash forward to this week.  A couple of things have been happening. 

1) Both Felix and Luke has been ‘feeling their oats’ as we say.  That is, they are hormonal young cockerels trying to steal a couple hens away from big papa Dots or big brother Pip.  

2) Luke has become fixated on Maicey, much like Pip did Riley last year.  

3) There has been a noticeable change in Maicey’s behavior.  She’s not a shy hen normally, but is now skittish, running away from all the roosters, even Dots, hiding in corners, and squeaking like a scared rabbit whenever they approach.  This is not like her at all.

I thought over-mating, and have been debating that I can’t keep all four, and which two should be the ones to leave.  

I decided to put Maicey in the dog crate I use for medical separation or broody breaking, to give her a break from the elbows and hoping that, in her absence, Luke would find someone else to fixate on.  

Later on, yesterday, I took outside for supervised exercise, and just sat watching her and watching the others.  She sat on my lap for a while.  Luke came over and made a play for her attention and I told him to go away. 

He did, and she eventually got down off my lap in her own and went to forage.  

I watched her for a long time.  And then, I noticed her limping again.  She hasn’t done it for a while, but when Dots approached and tried to wing dance for her, she squeaked and ran, well limped away.  

So I go over, pick her up, and purely by chance, my hand brushed the underside of her fluff, down by the start of her legs.  

There was something hard and dried on.  I parted the fluff, and see – much to my horror- a huge gash in her side, just above her leg.  

I’ll post a picture in a minute, but let me warn you, it’s NOT pretty.  

I have been asking myself HOW did I miss that??? Never mind how it happened – we think a rooster spur injury, and are planning for Dots and Pip to get mani-pedis soon – but literally HOW DID I NOT SEE this big an injury on a chicken I handle every day?  How?  I can’t even – I don’t have words to describe the guilt I feel over missing it. 

I immediately took her into the house, plopped her in a sink of warm water and try to clean up around it so I can see.  

There is caked on dirt and other stuff, and something that looks like an advanced stage fungal infection.  All likely.  

It smells gross, it looks grosser.  

She stood rather still and took most of my efforts at cleaning rather well.  Maicey is good girl.  I kept telling her how sorry I was and how good she was being.  She really was.  Anyone else would have pecked me, scratched or tried to get away.  

I kept up until I hit a point where the deepest dirt was.  When I touched her there, she cried they squeaky rabbit cry, and tried to get out of the sink. 

A little cleaner, but that is where it hurts her the most. 😓


 My poor Maicey Grace!!! 

My inquires on Facebook yielded the possibility that this is a spur related injury.  

I’m treating with Scarlex Oil spray, vitamin B (orally) and if she continues to have pain, I can add penicillin and baby aspirin.  

She is going to be in the dog crate for a couple of days, but I will also be taking her out for supervised exercise, so I can ensure her safety.  

And yes, the boys with spurs are getting mani-pedis soon.  

I’ve also begun checking the other hens for injuries, now that I know where to look.  So far, this is just her.  

My poor Maicey after her bath/torture.

I’m still upset over not seeing this.  How do you just not see that big an injury on an animal you see and hold every day?  Maicey is one of the favs.  My lap hen who likes to sit in my lap and get petted.  How did it go undetected this long, especially when I checked her over back in March?  

I’ll keep everyone updated on her status, and how it heals.  

And also the Boys and their mani-pedis.  

Jolene

This is Jolene.

  She is a two year old Rhode Island Red hen, and also Little Dude’s favorite hen in all the coop.  She was the first of the Rhodies to let him pick her up and respond to his affections.  

She’s sick.   

I’m not sure how evident it is from the pictures, but her abdomen is swollen like an over full balloon.  I’ve spent the last week treating her – or trying to treat her – for being egg bound.  Warm baths in epson salts, a soft next, dark room away from her flock in the comfort of our porch.  Liquid calcium drench.

I even stuck my finger up her vent looking for an egg.  I didn’t find one, though.  

She stopped eating when I separated her from the flock, so after two days of nothing happening, I put back with her flock.  She eats, forages, but walking at a slower pace. The swelling has not gone away.  Her walking is getting slower and more difficult.  She can’t jump up on to the roosts at night now.  

She hasn’t passed an egg or yolks.  I haven’t seen her poop in days.  

I’ve looked up the symptoms and everything I’ve read says this is not good.   

In the meantime, she’s slowly suffering, and we’re suffering right along with her as we’re watching her do it.   

Little Dude has not wanted to lose ‘his chicken.’  He wanted me to ‘wait and see.’  He’s asked me in that tentative way that proves he is thinking things through “are you sure she just won’t get better with time?”  

Last night, I told him he needed to say good-bye, because this afternoon, Dad and I were going to do the right thing and cull her.  I don’t want to wait it out until she either dies or her abdomen bursts from the pressure of whatever is making her swell.  

I don’t want to come down one morning to let them out, or in the afternoon to collect eggs and find that she keeled over and the rest of the flock decided to cannibalize her. Because chickens are opportunistic little onmivores.  

So we hugged and snuggled her and said our good-byes last night.  Told her what a good girl she was and how sorry we were.  Told her that Becky and Ava, Madison and Dottie and poor little Riley were waiting for her on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, in a pasture of fresh grass and fat juicy bugs.  That there was a patch of dirt, warm from the sun, waiting for her to stretch out in.  

She laid her head on my shoulder and closed her eyes, as if to let me know that she understood.  I hope she does.  

Today is going to be a rough day.