Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sky is making her journey across another sky.

Photo copyright Aji, 2017; all rights reserved.

This morning, Wings went out and opened the gate to the chicken coop, as usual. He didn't go inside to check; typically one or two remain inside out of sight, because they're inside the smaller interior coop, laying. I went in a few moments later to gather eggs, and saw Sky's tailfeathers peeking out beyond the ramp, in a spot where they often lie down to take dust baths.

But I knew, immediately. Her tailfeathers were fanned outward in a way that is not characteristic of a live chicken stretching in the dirt . . . but were of one whose spirit has left its body. Sure enough: Apparently she'd decided to lie down in that spot, then closed her eyes, and simply gone to sleep. As far as I can tell, it was nothing more than natural causes, as though her heart and her little just gave out. She was one of our very first round of chicks, and thus five years old, and for free-range steady layers, that seems to be the upper end of the average (yeah, the sellers say 6-8, 8-10, or teens or even 20s, but it's pretty clear from those who keep chickens that that spectrum is the outer edge to the extreme exception, not the rule).

That was Sky almost a year ago, with one of her Red sisters. Last year, she really came into her own. She was a Barred Rock, one of a pair, and she and our Silver Lace Wyandotte (named Silver, natch) were the last two remaining of the very first chicks we got, back in the spring of 2012. Sky was always kind of the runt in terms of size and skittishness, and with her first molt, she had trouble growing her feathers back in properly. A couple of years ago, she'd lost so many that she looked like some sort of cartoon-character chicken, all skin and scrawny limbs leaping around and squawking, and Wings affectionately nicknamed her "Hairless."

Last year, though, she grew all her feathers back in in a big way, and she became sleek and confident and utterly beautiful, an archetypal Barred Rock. Still skittish, but also a strong, consistent layer, even if her eggs were small compared to those of the Reds. She was still laying yesterday, and last night, she was still moving around freely and comfortably, no sign of anything wrong, diving happily after their chicken treats. I looked her over, and it really does seem as though she lay down in one of her favorite spots and just went to sleep.

We laid her to rest a few minutes ago, along with everything she'll need for her journey. We do that with all of our animals. And now Silver, who ceased laying a few months ago and has been slowing down noticeably, the one who I thought would be next, is alone among her cohort. Of the remaining six, she has two younger black siblings and four younger red ones for company and comfort. And Sky is now making her journey across a different kind of sky, in the company of several of sisters, from a base near Carter's memorial tree. 

We love you, and we miss you, Sky.

All content, including photos and text, are copyright Aji, 2017; all rights reserved. Nothing herein may used or reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the owner.

No comments :

Post a Comment