Let’s get this out of the way immediately: this morning I woke up to GRISLY CHICKEN DEATH. Zsa Zsa, JWOWW, and So-and-So the Easter Egger got the axe. I locked them up at dusk last night and it was quiet outside and they were burbling in their house and everything seemed well. There was a lot of noise at 5 a.m. but I didn’t think much of it. Sometimes they get noisy when the sun comes up. I came out at 6:30 to let them out (I surrender, I am a morning person now, yes I hate myself appropriately) and the first thing I saw was feathers under the coop. Too many feathers. There were three broken and gutted little bodies around the backyard. One of the raccoons had eaten the eggs out of Zsa Zsa’s body, which just made me furious, really.
I walked to the corner of the yard and old lady Veronica was hiding behind the shed, standing upright and eying me warily. A feather was stuck to her head and at first I was afraid that her eye had been poked or something, but she was just sticky. I let her be since I figured she’d get it off herself, and also because after what she witnessed she is probably now Chicken Dexter Morgan and I didn’t want to get too close.
Watching her stand there made me feel really sad. I surveyed the little piles where the raccoons had left the girls laying around the yard half eaten and all I could think of was how scared they must have been in the dark and how terrible I was to have shut the door too early and locked them out. It’s like a horror movie when the door closes too soon and you watch your friend get torn apart by zombies/tentacles/LaRouchies through the porthole. I cried–I couldn’t help it.
The thing about chicken deaths is that I don’t really bond with them the way I do with my cats and now the dog, but they are trusting and defenseless and just kind of generally good animals, I believe. I know chickens peck each other and sometimes they eat eggs and they are stupid, but after ten years I feel that most problems can be prevented with proper conditions and control. You can steer them like a waterway and they do good work for you. And I had let them down.
Once the bodies were cleaned up I opened their door to check on the remaining hens. No one came forward, and normally they burst out like they have been shot from an extremely short range cannon.
“Girls?” I stuck my head in. There was an egg open on the coop floor and Silver Belle’s beak was wet. That was weird. They rarely break their own eggs. I walked around back and the back egg hatch was open. Strudel had done her egg duty yesterday and had left it open.
I was still crying when I came into the house and I sat on the couch. Frannie came upstairs and it’s extremely rare but I feel bad when the first thing the girls see in the morning is me bawling like a big soppy muffin. I told Frannie what went down and she hugged me while I sniffled and felt terrible. After a couple of minutes on the couch, we heard Strudel’s door open and Frannie went down to fill her in on the news.
When Strudel came upstairs she looked stunned. Strudel always has strong notions about justice and responsibility, and spent a few months asking me hard questions about things like police justice and morality. I have NO IDEA what she is going to turn into when she grows up. For a long time the people who were most responsible for breaking and taking things in my house were Not Me and Must’ve Have Been My Sister, but lately she has been coming forward more and talking about how she could handle things better the next time. What a fucking relief.
“I’m sad about the chickens,” she said.
“Yeah. Thanks. Me too,” I said. I waited for her wheels to turn to where I knew they would go next.
“Did someone leave the door open?” she asked, gently.
“Yes,” I said. “The egg door was left open on the back of the house.”
I watched her face flicker through several changes before the needle got stuck on, “Oh shit, this is my fault.”
“Sorry, Mom,” she said, almost inaudibly.
“Thanks for saying that.”
Today is the last day of first and sixth grades. She was a very quiet cricket on Wednesday.
Horace vs. Mere and Goethe
He is SO LUCKY they humor him.
Noooo you may not.