The white hen has been acting unusual for a week or so. Which, for a hen means she’s been staying away from the other chickens. Not eating the leftovers I put out for them and lying around a lot. So Jon and I weren’t surprised when she died this morning. But it was surprising that she came out of the coop then walked over to the gate were we were brushing the donkeys and plopped down, unable to get back up. She had a spasm or two and I placed my hand on her, thinking, well, that I didn’t want her to die alone, and then she died. We put her in the back woods for the coyotes and speculated about whether or not the gray hen would notice she was gone, the two of them were always together.
It made me think of when the fox attacked the hens at Old Bedlam Farm and I nursed our one hen, Fran, back to health (she didn’t live too long after that). I realized that I would never do that now. If I had an injured or very sick chicken, I would put it down. (Actually, I wouldn’t put her down, Jon would get the rifle and do the job, and I’d be grateful I didn’t have to do it).
So I’ve either become hard, or have learned, through experience, chickens die easily and often. And so I leave a big door wide open when it comes to living with chickens. A door that allows for the inevitable. And of course, I know, death is inevitable with any life, but with some of the other animals and with people, in my mind, that door is further away, maybe not even visible, and not open as wide.
This afternoon Minnie and the grey hen were sitting near each other, grooming themselves. If gray hen is missing white hen, I don’t really see it. But then, she has Minnie to hang around with.