Life & Death: The Saga of Noodles

I first met Noodles on my first full day at the farm.  She was strutting around one of the barns kicking her feet high and running for food.

Noodles had been here for fourteen years.  She was the “last of the first,” Graham explained.  She was one of the first three chickens they had ever bought.  “Every winter,” Carol said, “I’d wait for her to die.  She didn’t.  She’s still here.”

Yep, that’s right.  Noodles lived for fourteen years.  Have you ever heard of such an old chicken?

Noodles looked like a grandma.  She had a look in her eye like she’d put you right back in your place if need be.  And she had something called bumble foot, which happens when the foot gets wounded and in the healing process deformities form making it difficult to walk.  As a result Noodles always walked with her feet kicking out high out in front of her.  Whereas most chickens kind of glide by slowing stepping and jerking their head to-and-fro, she looked like Charlie Chapman in one of his comedic black and whites-except she had color… and wasn’t walking for comedic relief.

At any rate Noodles hardly left her little barn, even though most of the hens congregated near the chicken coop.  Some of the hens came in out and but she always had one little pall without a name.  Her friend was easily identifiable because she was a silky breed-a chicken with white almost fur-like feathers.  They always slept in the same spot next to each other.

With Graham out of town, Noodles has kind of taken the spot light this week in the middle of Carol’s and I’s lives.  She woke up with what Carol and I thought was dead foot.  That is, her left foot seemed almost like it was life-less.  Like the blood had been cut off long enough that it got in the way more than it helped her walk.  As a result we set up a little cage for her in hopes that she might get better (such treatment is only deserved by Noodles-mind you, as she is “the last of the first”).  Carol was at work so I had the chore of  making this happen.  Seeing as neither of us grew up on the farm and have too much of a soft heart, we decided to try and put her little silky friend in with her.  Catching Noodles with a dead foot would be easy, however her silky friend… maybe not so much.

I got the cage set up, wandered right on over and picked her up-lickity split.  I put her in, shut the top sliding door and almost walked away when I remembered: her silky friend.

I approached several times-sometimes slowly and nonchalantly, sometimes quickly-always resulting in her clucking and running far outside my reach.  It was windy and cold and I was about to give up when I had an idea.  I walked over to Noodles little cage and slide the door open just enough, because certainly Noodles wouldn’t be getting out.  I went over walked behind the silky and stopped just as she reached the cage.  She looked at me for a few seconds, then hopped up and right in the cage with Noodles.  I think I almost cried.

Here’s poor little noodles and then her silky friend and her behind.

Seeing as I’m the sensitive type who revels in the joys and tragedies of life, after all this emotional turmoil I decided to remind myself of the beginning of life as well.  I left Noodles and her friend to get situated in their temporary home and peeked into the old goose coop.  And I saw…

Couple day old chicks!  These were hatched on accident-as in Carol and Graham didn’t collect the eggs and put them under a broody hen, the broody hen decided to do it the old-fashioned way and hide out by herself for a couple of weeks.  And then poof!  There they were.

And as if that weren’t enough, we found this little guy earlier in the morning and I decided to pay him a visit, too.

He(?)’s just a day old in this photo.  Too cute.

At any rate, Graham is still out of town so Carol and I took Noodles into the vet today because her dog had an appointment as well.  As Carol said, “I can’tay do it.”  And neither could I.  We just put her in a box with a towel over it and took her in with us.  She didn’t fight or struggle or make a fuss-she simply laid on the floor of the box and waited.  She even let me pet her which Carol said was outside of her normal behavior.  It was several minutes of us waiting in the office and finally Noodles was returned to us in the same box she had arrived in.

Noodles had a good life here on the smallholding with owners who kept her around long after she was producing eggs.  I’m glad to have known her.  After all, do you know a chicken who has lived to be fourteen years old?


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