Raquel took ill Friday evening. I found her sitting with the younger hens in the coop, something she would never have done if healthy. Raquel was always at the top of the pecking order in our flock, and she's pecked everybody in the household including me. I brought her inside for a checkup, and I found that she was covered in poo. This happens sometimes when a chicken gets too weak to stand or move. It's terribly undignified. I bathed her in the sink and gave her a blow dry, then carried her back to the coop to be with her friends. She was worse on Saturday. I kept her in isolation in the mud room for a few hours, but she didn't last long.
We don't know what claimed Raquel's life; possibly an impacted crop or something she ate. I held her at the end when she thrashed her way out of this world, and it still hurts to think of her suffering.
Raquel would have been two years old in just a couple of months. She had a crooked toe, a wicked sharp beak, and was the fattest chicken we had ever seen. She will be sorely missed. In her honor, the newly built raspberry bed will be named Raquel, and we'll think of her each season when the new shoots come up in spring.