Friday, March 5, 2004

Goodbye, Mrs. Black

Mrs. Black died today.

Peacefully, it seems, and of natural causes. But still a shock for her to turn up missing at nightfall when it was time to close up the coop and say goodnight to our little backyard flock of pet chickens.

A quick search of the garage, where a few months back she had managed to hide and gave us a scare, produced nothing. We found her curled up underneath my daughter's backyard climbing-castle-thing; one of those plastic, brightly colored things that kids love these days. Mrs. Black had no marks on her and seems to have slipped her earthly bounds quickly and quietly with no fuss.

Mrs. Black was a Chicken Hell feed store rescue and had health problems from the start, along with having almost no feathers on her skinny little body. One eye was swollen shut and weeping fluid and she wheezed something awful. Seeing her in that horrible place I hadn't expected her to last long, but couldn't stand to walk away and leave her there. We bought her and brought her home after a trip to the vet for medication. She spent two months inside the house getting well, fattening up and growing feathers. Her eye, which I had doubted was even still there, healed up and turned out fine. She got her name from my then 2 year old daughter, who walked by her one day and said, "Oh...hello Mrs. Black!" Mrs. Black had a quiet dignity and could stand next to you for several minutes before you realized she was there.

We will miss her sweet nature, wall-eyed stare and her raspy-voiced burblings. Just this afternoon she had come running with the rest when I passed out a handful of strawberries and all was right with the world. Just yesterday I stopped on the back porch to give her a quick pet.

I know some people will read this and think, "It was just a chicken!" What most people don't know is how personable, smart and cheerful chickens are and what terrific pets they make.

Tomorrow we will bury her in a bed of cut flowers, under the bay tree by the back fence.

Goodbye Mrs. B.

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