Saturday, August 7, 2004

Goodbye, Jack...

Well, just to keep the depression going, we unexpectedly lost Jack, our 8 year old Barred Rock rooster last night. He and Wild Child were a couple, the grand old couple of the flock. He died suddenly but quietly in his sleep less than 24 hours after Wild Child went, and we buried him right next to Wild Child in a bed of roses just like hers.  He had been clearly distressed and depressed, searching for her...I think if it's possible to die from a broken heart, Jack just may have.

The rest of the flock is mostly standing around staring at each other or wandering aimlessly about the yard in clumps. They look at each other as if to say, "Well, what do we do now?" In two short days they have lost their father, protector and lover in Jack, and their mother, matriarch and guardian in Wild Child. The flock dynamic has been thrown into turmoil with no clear successors to either the Head Roo or Head Hen posts.

We are trying to keep them company as much as we can. When we go out into the yard they group around us more than they normally do, even the normally more standoffish birds. I'm trying to adjust to the loss of two long-time and well-loved pets. Anyone who has ever had an older pet, no matter what kind, knows how incredibly cool and laid-back they are to have around. I also can't help but look at the others and wonder who is next. Several of our chickens are older and recent events have left me gun-shy, trying to steel myself to finding another dead bird. It's no fun.

Jack was our household symbol. We use his image and his name in our email, our Internet dealings...so many things. Emotionally I'm a train wreck, but that is, indeed, the cost of keeping pets. It's just hard when such a big bill comes due all at once.

This has not been a good week.

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