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March 4, 2017: Eulogy for a Chicken

This is a little late in coming – Sophie, aka Couch Potato, died on Wednesday March 1, 2017. It wasn’t that her death went unnoticed or unmentioned, quite the contrary, it was that I’ve been sick and unable to prioritize. However, it is very important that Sophie be eulogized because (as I said before) here the souls of animals don’t leave their bodies until I give them a fitting send-off. A eulogy is it.

Pete found Sophie dead, Tuesday evening, in what we call the upper roost area. It’s not really a roost but rather a small box built into the wall of the shed. The chickens can exit it and go out into the

pen. We have no idea what the cause of death was. It had been very cold and windy for a few days and this may have been a contributing factor. Right now, Sophie is in deep freeze, in the freezer off the living room. In the spring, we’ll bury her up on the hill adjacent to the guest cabin.

I acquired Sophie from Lee Heinrich who lives in Palmer and is Palmer Inner Circle. She told me at a yoga class a few years back that she had three chickens that were not laying anymore and that they were destined for the stewpot. I said I’d take one of them. In retrospect, I should have taken all three, but we then had two other chickens, Red Hen and Freebird – our maximum number of chickens based on coop size is three. So for Sophie a few extra years of life was the luck of the draw.

I named Sophie before we acquired her. On the way to Lee’s to pick her up I saw an old sofa with a free for the taking sign at the Buffalo Mine/Glenn Highway intersection. Right then I decided that this was what I was going to name this bird. And Sophie turned out to be the most apt name of all. She was not outgoing or ingoing. She was more like a grandmother with a big lap. Just a big white bird with a ring of black and white feathers around her neck, a few black tails, and white feathers on her feet.

Sophie immediately got along well with Freebird and Red Hen – she most enjoyed being in their company, and after that, being out in the yard, rooting around in the grass for insects and worms. She who was a follower was always easy to find. She also went right back into the coop when she saw me coming.

Sophie’s egg laying abilities made her suspect. She might have laid one or two eggs this summer, but I suspected that Freebird bested her. Quite clearly, Lee was right -- her egg laying days were over when I got her.

I was so looking forward to letting Sophie and Freebird root around in the hoop house prior to gardening season. It seems to me to be so unfair that she made it through the toughest part of one of the toughest winters we have seen around here, and then right before spring, she died.

Sophie outlived her two look-alike siblings. She did not outlive Freebird, who misses her. I am going to continue to miss this chicken, as I continue to miss Stubbie, Chicken Catchatori, Nimbi, Snooki, Henrietta, Henny Penny Palin, and Red Hen. I do feel a little better thinking what I do know to be true – she is now in a place where it’s warm, and the bugs are plentiful year around.

Next: 64. 3/5/17: Getting Better, Getting Worse

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