Monday, June 26, 2017

Silver on the Sky Road

Photo copyright Aji, 2017; all rights reserved.

I walked out this morning to let the larger chickens out, and discovered that Silver had left us. We were just noticing last night how happy, content, and comfortable she looked on the top of the coop with her girls. This morning, she was in a different spot on top of it, slumped forward, gone just long enough for rigor to have set in. She had a piece of straw clamped firmly in her beak, as though she'd been rearranging her makeshift nest when her little heart just gave out.

This one is a bit harder than most of the others. She was the last of our old guard, our first group of chickens that we acquired in 2012. Her sister died of wry neck just days after hatching, but she was tougher. She would prove to be both a little skittish and fairly dominant, but she was always my beautiful girl, not too fond of being held, but willing to have her feathers stroked.

Silver outlasted all the others from that first round, and all of those from the second group we got a few weeks later, too. The only remaining one of her cohort had been Sky, who we lost suddenly a few months ago, and Silver took it hard; she mourned her openly, looking into the distance out the fence every evening, as though she expected her very skittish sister to come barreling up, squawking all the way. It took weeks for her to come to terms with it, but eventually, she settled back into her role as matriarch and alpha, and again began socializing with her younger siblings (the ones who joined us as hatchlings in 2014). A few weeks ago, when we finally brought the new chicks over to the coop to integrate them, she was the first to intermingle with them openly without much overt dominance, and unlike the younger reds and blacks, she seemed mostly comfortable being among the shrieking ankle-biters. Perhaps it was the fact that six of them are her distant cousins, Silver-Laced Wyandottes like herself.

At any rate, she survived a little over five years, which for a free-range hen not being shot full of artificial substances is a pretty good run. She had been slowing noticeably in recent months, and until a couple of weeks ago, had ceased laying entirely. Since then, she's given us a few more light brown eggs, small and so pale they're not far off ivory — her final tangible gift, I suppose, to us. But she seemed to have no pain or discomfort, and last night, she seemed perfectly happy, and so it appears that she went the best way possible: simply went to sleep and didn't awaken again.

She's buried at the edge of the west garden, next to her beloved sister Sky  as always, with everything she'll need. And we both miss her terribly.

We love you, Silver. You'll find Sky again, and your twin Star, along the Sky Road where you'll truly be able to fly.

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