"Everyone tells me that," the vet chuckled.
But Blue Rooster is very, very unwell, and on discovering last night that maybe it wasn't terminal, I decided to fork over the $65 consultation fee and see the damned vet.
This is the first time in my adult life I've taken an animal to the vet.
The rooster cost $5 as a chick. Who could justify spending $65 on a $5 chicken?
I think, too, that beneath the organic-self-sufficiency ethos lies a suggestion that if you're doing it right, your animals should never get sick. If they do, and the problem's not curable by natural means, it's necessarily fatal and we should let nature take its course.
Antibiotics? The bird should be healthy enough not to need to resort to big (chicken) pharma!
There's also a thing in me about asking for help. Living out here alone is a personal challenge, and you know I enjoy it. But when things go wrong, I tend to just hunker down, hold out, and battle on. Even when some skilled advice could save the day.
I think this unwillingness to acknowledge when I need help is what drew me to the ideals of sustainability and self-sufficiency in the first place.
So it was something for me to take a rooster to the vet. After all the birds I've killed—out of need and choice—you'd think I'd have no qualms about putting this boy out of his misery. And misery it most surely is.
But perhaps all those birds are the reason I didn't want to do it this time. This time I didn't want to write my rooster off. I wanted a professional opinion. Because on this point at least—poultry—I feel I'm flailing now. And if the vet gave me antibiotics for him, perhaps I could use them next time one of the birds got a respiratory infection. Which someone does every winter.
He's only 8 months old, my Blue Rooster. Maybe he'll die in the night and it will all have been for nought. But at least I'll have given him a chance.