last man standing

Apparently, it is easier to dig a grave with a pointy shovel than with a flat one.  Or so I am told by my neighbor who is on his way over to bury my second dead chicken of the summer. They are old, these chickens, and there is only one left. Kate, if you must know. Although, to tell the truth, Ashley is still large and in charge down in Esmont, so there are really two men standing, title of this post aside.  Sex of the poultry also aside.

Now, I’ve had chickens for a while now, if you’ll remember.  There were these guys, who turned out to both be roosters and got sent to the country to have a chance at full free-rangey-ness and both ended up in their rightful place on the food chain via a hawk.  Then I got the big girls, Mary, Kate and Ashley, and then two random others from a friend, Valerie and Meghan, Jr.  Valerie took up the mantle of resident rooster with pride, stretching up to crow and hopping on the other chickens’ backs for Fun Times (What? You have a problem with my trans chicken?  Get over it.) but a raccoon or something got her all the same a couple years ago.

So for sometime there have been three.  Mary, who never laid any eggs and was sort of mean.  MJ, whose name had to be shortened, because otherwise it made me sad all the time.  And Kate, who laid occasionally, but went broody this summer and almost got put in a pot for her pains.

Mary died close to two weeks ago.  She was listless and hanging out on the ground one evening (next to a stick that I thought was a possum tail, which caused me to jump *and* scream *and* scrape my knee, which was The Best Story Ever to the children at camp that week), and then the next day she was dead when I came home from camp.  It was a little sad, and my roommate buried her over by the cats on the north side of the house.  She was old, and I wondered if there was something not right with her insides, on account of the No Eggs Issue.  Who knows.
And then, last week, Meghan, Jr.  started looking listless.  And pale, if you can imagine it.  And then she disappeared while I was on bed rest.  I sort of hoped that some animal had taken off with her – doesn’t that seem a more fitting way to die?  But no.  After 4 or 5 days outside in Virginia in August, I found her by smell, behind the crazy old painting of the Queen of Hearts that leans on the fence by the chicken coop.  Funny, it is easier to call her by her old, real name now that she’s dead.  She was a sweet chicken, she’d allow herself be held and would come running when I’d call to all of them.
Anyway, she’s going to be buried with everybody else.  I will have to expand that flower bed, man, it’s getting crowded over there.  I never thought I’d bury my chickens; they aren’t really pets to me in the way the cats are.  I mean, I like them; they are living things.  But I don’t love them the way I love the cats.  But I’m sadder than I expected about Meghan, Jr dying.  Not in a weepy, keening sort of way, but in a “wow, that animal’s life is over and we saw each other every day” sort of way.

Chickens are generally pretty accepting of the world in which they live, and tend not to judge others too harshly and cast proverbial stones like a bunch of raging hypocrites.

(just in case you need some additional hate-free chicken)

One Comment on “last man standing”

  1. elsie says:

    Sorry about both of your recent losses. It is hard to lose them. We have had a crappy year of not so peaceful losses to our flock. Glad yours were at least without significant trauma.

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