Thursday, December 27, 2012
The loss of a feathered friend
The story goes: I let the chickens out to roam and to eat breakfast in the morning around 7am. One of my medium sized barred rocks must have been out eating grit from the ditch and was startled by a passing truck, which was driven by an elderly neighbor who lives about 200 yards from our home. She must have jumped out of the ditch into the road and was hit around 8:30am, the truck driver stopped, knocked on our door, but I didn't hear him because of the washing machine. Later on in the day, around 3pm, I was out counting the chickens and only counted 8 barred rocks, I recounted and recounted, still only eight, but I was hoping that she was out in the high grass or the compost pile, where they usually like to go and scratch. The neighbor saw me out and about and pulled into the drive to let me know that he had hit one of our chickens earlier in the day.
As an aside, at around 11:30am, this guy shows up:
That afternoon, once my neighbor drove off, I went searching for the barred rock and found her in a ditch, dead, with her eyes closed. Incredibly saddened, since you all know how much I love my chickens, I called my parents and my father came over to get her body for burial (since their large manure/compost pile is warm enough to dig into right now). Her body looked fine, so my only thought is that she died from drowning in the water that was left over in the ditch after she became confused from hitting the truck. This thought makes me more sad, since I think that maybe, just maybe, if I had heard my neighbor knocking at 8:30am, I might have been able to find her so she wouldn't have to die alone or maybe she wouldn't have died at all.
I spent a short part of the afternoon picking up some of her tail feathers off the side of the road to remember her by, since she started out as a little chick and by all odds made it to adulthood under our constant, loving care. Looking forward to memory fading her from my mind, since now, ever time I close my eyes, I think of her laying there. Which is why I am up at 3:00am typing this post out.
I also spent some of the afternoon hanging out with the remaining chickens, who all huddled around when I sat down on the deck, one jumping up on my leg, the rest pecking at my boots. I had a tough time getting the chickens to go to roost at night and know that they recognized the loss of one of their flock. I hope that their memory/imprinting of her fades so they don't continuing looking for her in the dark.
Rationally, I realize that, yes, she was a chicken and I shouldn't spend a lot of time mourning her, but I just can't get over the fact she was taken so suddenly from us and that she was missing the entire day. My mother told me that you care and love for pets for as long as they are with your family and they don't exactly understand the safety and security that we, as pet owners, provide them. For me, I recognized that dangers are out there, threats to our chickens that I didn't perceive before, and it is impossible to protect them all the time.
As fragile as they seem to be, they can also be resilient creatures and I am happy to know that he was returned to his home.