Monday, April 18, 2016

It's Too Beautiful A Day To Feel This Sad

I woke up to another perfect day, but haunted by dreams and it would seem that I've taken to chewing my tongue at night, or at least biting down on it. But up I got and knew that today was the day to take the little chickens out to the new outside shelter and that was cheering.
But when I went to let the big chickens out, I found Miss Lucille on the ground, flat and breathing hard. I thought perhaps Mick had just mated with her because sometimes after sex, the hen does just lay there, still, for a moment before she stands up again and shakes it all off.
But no. This was different.
And she didn't move and I noticed that her comb was turning black and I picked her up and could not find a wound on her but it was so obvious that she was in the process of dying and I had no idea why and didn't know what to do. And so I did nothing but stroked her soft feathers and Nicey stayed in the hen house with us and watched her

and then looked at me as if I was supposed to do something and sang a little song and now she's on the nest by her dying friend. I keep going out to check on Lucille, to stroke her feathers, tell her what a fine hen she's been and I am so sad.
I have no idea what is wrong with her. Did she eat something she shouldn't have? Did a snake bite her? I don't know. I don't know. But she doesn't react to my touch at all.

Damn. These chickens have made such a nest in my heart.

So I'm going about my day. What else to do? Supposed to meet kids and friends in town for lunch and I'm washing sheets and I did put the baby chicks out.

Here's the new daytime coop for them that Mr. Moon built. You can move those wheels at the end down and lock them into place and use those leg-looking things on the other end to wheel-barrow the entire thing to another spot. It's tight and safe, no gaps for things to get in or chicks to get out. There is a shaded area should the sun get too bright or they want to feel protected, and plenty of room for them to run around and scratch in the dirt. I can hear them peeping now. 

And so life ends and so life goes on and it's only a chicken. Only a chicken and there are probably billions of chickens on this earth but there are only sixteen in this yard, each one named and known and yesterday Lucille was out and about and running with the flock. 

I just went and checked on her again and she is still breathing but that is all. Nicey is off the nest but keeping watch and that is the saddest of all. Don't tell me that chickens are brainless creatures. Even Mick has gone in to see her. In his rooster talk he told her to get up but she did not. He walked around her for awhile, and then went back to his flock. I have no idea what these birds think but I know that they do think and they do know when something is wrong. 

Sometimes we can't think about it too much. We just have to keep watch. 
And so we are, each in the way that we can. 


  1. I often think that animals are more advanced than we are in their acceptance of things. Of course they know and they feel. How beautiful that Lucille will have the company of her dear sister-wife at this time so that she won't feel alone. Animals slide into and out of this realm with such ease. No wringing of hands or gnashing of teeth. They seem to leave all that mess to us.

    When my last cat died, I awoke to him meowing by my bed and his pupils were two different sizes. I knew that was bad but it didn't stop me from rushing him to the vet and spending days and thousands trying to save him. I should have just taken him out under the trees and held him while he peacefully died . With this cat I told myself and everyone else there will be no such heroics again. When his time has come I will not hang onto him or let anyone else do so. Each day it is up to each of us to remind ourselves these dear companions will not be here forever. In so doing we are reminded that neither will we. Feeling sad today too on a glorious day.


  2. This brought tears to my eyes. I'm so sad for Lucille and for you. I hope you all find peace and comfort soon.

    Hugs from South Carolina.

  3. Damn, that is heartbreaking.
    To me, it is so frustrating when people think that animals don't feel or think or grieve, when anyone paying attention can see they do.
    Everyone's gotta die, but it sounds like it was too soon for Ms. Lucille. And a tough way for you to start the day. There is comfort in those new chicks and I am glad you are holding that.
    But, damn it's so hard.

  4. I'm sorry :(

    This is the bit that puts me off about owning chickens.

  5. so sorry Ms Lucille seems near the end......... always such a shock when you can't help and don't really know why they are fading. In my experience with chickens, I have also found that they comfort each other during this time, their instincts are so strong and true........ keeping you and Ms Lucille in my heart today
    Susan M

  6. Invisigal- That was one of the most beautiful comments I've ever read. Thank you so much. We humans do make so much of death and I am not sure why. Every living thing will die eventually and we all know that but somehow the word "immortal" is part of our vocabulary. We don't want to die, we don't want our animals to die. Hell, I grieve when a beloved cutting dies. But as we get older, I think we do indeed get a bit wiser in this regard. Maybe. Maybe not. Some of us.
    Again- thanks. I will be thinking of your words for a long time to come.

    Jennifer- I was sad for Lucille too but she had a great chicken life, running with her sister-wives every day, the sky above her, the dirt beneath her feet, a safe place to sleep at night. Right up until yesterday she had that.

    Liv- If there is one thing I have learned from keeping chickens it is that they do often die sooner than I think they should.
    I am sure the other hens and Mick realize that one of the flock is gone but I doubt they will worry over it for long. I am glad of that. Thank you for your kindness.

    Jo- Well, it's taught Owen and Gibson a lot about death in a way that they can almost begin to comprehend and I suppose that's good. We accept the facts and go on. But it's still hard.

    Susan M- Thank you, dear. Chickens do have a way of knowing, I believe. And then they let go. It's one of the things I love about them the most.

    Messymimi- It's okay. It's part of it all. But it was a shock. One of my own flock...

    Mary Ann- Mostly, it is. And it definitely is when it's a sweet hen who seemed to be in the prime of her life.

    Leisha- Yep. I was so sad this morning. I hope she knew I was loving her.

  7. of course the other chickens know. all living creatures are sentient. perhaps she had a egg stuck. it happens.

  8. Every time one of your chickens dies it is sad for us so of course you that actually live with them will be sad. Miss Betty is the first chicken of yours that died while I was reading you and I still remember it :)

  9. It's so poignant how Nicey kept watch. Animals are smarter than we think they are. I read today that even insects may have self-awareness, according to some scientist.

  10. I'm sorry, Mary. Death seems always to be hard. Maybe there is an extra layer of difficulty for humans because we have the ability to think about it, anticipate it, and ruminate on it.


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