Archive | 1:21 PM

25 Days with Clarisse

11 Jul

Clarisse had been going downhill more rapidly the past few days.  She had liked one of us to carry her up into the clover field where she could eat while I sat and watched the clear sky, the grass, the insects.

Breathing and eating are both necessary.  And both were very difficult and antagonistic for Clarisse. If she ate, she could not breathe well.  If she did not eat enough she lost weight.  She never ate enough so she gradually lost weight.  It was clear that even holding her chest between her front legs while carrying her had become uncomfortable and made her breathing even more difficult.

She did like to eat.  If left to her own devices in the evening she would run or toddle down to the chicken coop and climb in their pen if the door was open so she could eat their feed.  She thought it tasted better than her own. She liked rose buds.  Narrow, smooth-leaved goldenrod.  Wide-leaved plantain.  Purple hosta flowers and stems. Daisies.  Purslane a bit.  Clover the best.  And grain.

Last night I took her up to the clover and she ate as fast as she was able; leaves of clover, timothy, orchard grass.  She ate as fast as she could, it seemed, before the breathing difficulties set in. But never enough.  She had lost so much muscle tone she could not get up if she fell.  We had to be watching or have  an ear out for her ‘meehing’. She loved company. Hawthorne would run around in the tall grass and come to check on us occasionally while I sat with her and watched two spiders spin their webs for the evening catch.  They each spun a line from the top of one tall grass to another.  I missed how, exactly.  Then they would drop down on a line, attach it lower, climb up, repeat, repeat,  making a plane with four edges made of silk which was then filled with spoke lines of silk running from an edge to a center point that got thick and opaque white with all the connections.  Lastly, the spider went around and around–in a clockwise direction for the one I saw–and put in the circular lines attaching the spokes.

The spiders’ choice of area to build webs was prime, it seemed.  Several times moths or insects flew through the two grass pillars marking the outer limits.  There was not enough web at that stage to catch them.

This morning Clarisse went up again to the field.  She was so hungry and so starved for air.  What a conundrum.  I left her there eating and fighting to breathe while Hawthorne and I took our walk.  Lots more dragonflies!  Many more wings on the ground also.  My suspicion is that the Indigo Bunting is the dragonfly hunter.  When we arrived back at Clarisse she was down and bleating. I carried her down.

Isabelle discovered newly hatched fly larvae on her feet.  She washed her and put a bit of spray on her lower legs.  Clarisse spent the day out of her blue pen as she was almost too weak to go anywhere.

Almost.  I found her down flat by the garage once.  The chicken feed had called to her.

How do you sleep if you can not lay down? She kept falling.  She leaned on me.  Her breathing became more labored.  We finally folded her legs so she lay upright and made a bolster of hay for her head. We checked her often.

She seemed to sleep.  Her breathing got shallower.  And then in between times, it stopped.

We will bury her under the Mountain Ash tonight.

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