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November 26, 2012: In Memorium, Henny Penny Palin

I often wonder about the nature of coincidence. Like, do we as humans make connections that otherwise aren’t there? Well, if there’s a causal connection in the instance I’m going to write about, it’s absolutely spooky.

Last night, after we got home from the big horse arena (a story for another day), Pete went outside to give the goats and chickens warm water. I met him on the porch; I’d just given the horses water. He told me that Henny Penny Palin was dead. I was at first in a state of denial—she seemed plenty healthy the day before. I don’t know what the cause of death was. I have some ideas, but they

are going to remain ideas. I couldn’t bear to go and look at her. This morning Pete put her in a plastic bag, and then put the plastic bag in the freezer. There her corpse will remain until spring.

Here’s the coincidence. I’d done an interview with Henny Penny less than 24 hours before. We have a lot of animals around here, so it seems odd that the one who was most in my thoughts was the one that died. She didn’t say she was ill when we conversed, but I suspect that she was then under the weather. Undoubtedly she didn’t want to draw attention to herself. She was that kind of bird.

I’m not one for putting chickens on pedestals. Birds are just birds. I suppose some (that is those who see humans as being at the tippy top of the food chain) would say that chickens have no brains, and are for human consumption. However, the birds that find their way here are pets, and as such they have an exalted status. It is very much a peaceable kingdom around here, except when the goats get into the food in the tack room. Then I rage. But the chickens are never a problem. They’re content to do their chicken thing – peck, scratch, and cluck. And when they lay eggs, everyone for miles around knows it.

Once again, I am thinking that with great love comes great loss. And today, I’m feeling the loss side of the equation. I’m fortunate. I had time, as I first rode Tinni and then rode Signy, to think about Henny Penny Palin, and put her death in a context that I can live with.

I named her Henny Penny Palin because we got her the day we heard that Sarah Palin was a vice presidential candidate. And, immediately we saw a similarity between the VP candidate and her namesake. Both were thin, had red-orange hair, and ran around as if the sky really was falling.

That day, I let HPP into the yard, so that she could root around for bugs, and she took off, into the dense brush. Because it was fall, it was the same color as she. She was impossible to find, so I soon gave up the search. Amazingly, a few hours later, she was back in the pen. I then knew that she was far smarter than the other Palin.

Henny Penny wasn’t really petting zoo material—she didn’t, as did Stubbi, Catchi, Nimby, or Snooky, like being handled. So I let her be. Over the years I developed a routine. I’d let her out into the pen, and then when it was time for her to go back in, I’d walk slowly behind her. When she came to the gate, I’d slowly wave her back in.

I will miss HPP. In the spring we’ll bury her next to her other chicken buddies.

In the meantime, we’ll have to find a buddy for Snooky. I spent time with her today – I don’t think she misses HPP, but she does seem lonely.

Next: 351. 11/27/12: Moving Forward