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January 27, 2022: Eulogy for a Chicken

The saddest dispatches that I write are eulogies for the animals. This does not happen often; if it did, I would not have animals. The hardest ones to write are for the long-lived animals. This is because the memories of them go back a ways.

Eulogies, then, are a form of closure for me, which is a way of taking the time to think about the departed soul.

Tonight, I went to check on the chickens and noticed that only four, rather than five, were in the upper roost area. I looked again, and I noticed that Louise was missing. I next checked the coop and found her next to the ramp. I

Thelma and Louise

picked her up and took her back into the shed. As I went to put her down, her neck went limp and her head dropped to one side. I set her down and she checked out. Her eyes closed and she didn’t move when I touched her.

I brought her into the house and set her in a box. Yep, she was dead. I put the box on the refrigerator on the porch, so that the dogs would leave her alone. Tomorrow we’ll put her remains in the pit next to the horse shelter. I will then read what I have written here:

Our friend Anne Corinne Kell gave Louise to us (I think) in 2015, around the time that we were hosting a Centered Riding Clinic. So she was seven years old. Shortly thereafter, she gave us Thelma. The two white hens were buddies. Anne Corinne said that both were socialized – actually they were not then used to being handled by people.

Louise was smaller than Thelma, but still managed to hold her own when we, in 2021, acquired Ruth, Bader, and Ginsberg. These three much larger hens did push the two smaller white ones around. It took some time for them all to become buddies.

I noticed that Louise had a crusty butt and was getting scrawny. Yesterday, in fact, I said to myself that I hoped that she’d make it until spring. It seems to me that this is one of life’s greatest unfairness’s because winter is now three quarters over. Had she lived, she would have had a bit more time and in that time enjoyed Pete’s re-built coop.

And, of course, I am kicking myself. Yesterday I should have brought her inside, washed off her butt and put her in a crate for a bit. She would then have gotten some much-needed rest and relaxation.

I am not sure how prolific she was as a layer – it was impossible to tell her white eggs from those of Thelma. At least she did not have to deal with our having a rooster around; I’d like to think that she was grateful about this.

Another thought – we ran out of our regular chicken feed yesterday and I gave her some stale cob. I hope that this did not contribute to her demise, but then I’ll never know.

From my relations with Louise, I now realize that I need to be more attentive to her remaining four buddies.

Next: 28. 128/22: The BLBP: Thinking Things Through

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