Other Chicken is dead.
This leaves only Naughty Chicken from the original four that kicked off our Happy Hen-Owning Days back in 2008. Big Chicken and Pretty Chicken disappeared at the end of August last year, and Naughty Chicken surprised us by making a full recovery from a mysterious illness around the same time. But until today, Other Chicken has done very little of note. When we named them, nothing specific sprang to mind as an appropriate description for her, and after being called the Other Chicken for a while, it sort of stuck. But despite her ordinariness, Other Chicken found her unexceptional way into our absurdly soft hearts, and she will be sadly missed.
She had been gradually fading away over the last couple of weeks, and last night didn’t manage to move herself from where she had been sitting on the floor of the hen house all day, to join her comrades on the high roosting place at the other end of the small building. I was actually quite surprised to find she was still alive when I went in there this morning, but she still hadn’t moved, and she couldn’t be persuaded to eat or drink anything. And just before taking the dogs for for their evening romp, I went into the hen house with a bowl of tasty deliciousness to tempt all the chickens back into the pen (so as to avoid any nasty dog/chicken interface, when the dogs burst out of the door on their rampant quest to find anything chasable or edible), and found Other Chicken lying in exactly the same place, but with her head on its side and her eyes closed.
Simon went to take her out, and commented that she was still quite warm, even though the stiffness was setting in. I wondered briefly, if I had gone to the hen house sooner, whether I might have been able to get her to drink a little milk, or might have somehow been able to make her last moments feel less lonely. And then I remembered she was a chicken, and the last thing she would have wanted in her dying moments would be some clumsy, interfering great human disturbing her peace and stressing her out.
So she has gone to her final roosting place in our little pet cemetery, on the Rough Land near the Willow Field, where Simon has started a Dead Chicken Row, just above the Dead Cat Row. And the way poor old Max has been behaving today (he won’t eat – no, not even raw egg and biscuits; he won’t get up to go outside for a wee; and he keeps sort of coughing and retching at the same time) I wonder just how long it will be before Simon needs to add a Dead Dog Row to the arrangement.
Ah well. Such is Life.