During the day, Wonky would struggle out to be as close to the flock as she could. Generally in the evening before they roosted, I would find her in one of the dust-bathing basins that the chickens dug outside the pen. She'd come in when food and water beckoned. When she rallied, she was clean and energetic looking, despite her obvious mobility challenges. Day-by-day this past week, she was looking more bedraggled. Finally, tonight, we knew it was time to tell Quinn. Our friends were back in town, and we decided to say good-bye to her together, and then I would go do what was necessary. The kids, as usual, ran ahead of me--and the call came back. "She's already dead. Wonky's already dead." Sure enough: she had chosen her own moment, right after the sundown of Solstice eve, basking in the bathing bowl.
Quinn and his friends wanted to bury her--which I suppose is fair enough for an animal that has earned itself a name--whether by merit or misadventure. So, off we hiked in the gloaming to the back of the pasture where the relatively pliable earth of the excess dirt pile from excavation serves as a makeshift graveyard for animals. We dug her a shallow grave and built a little cairn of loose rocks, to hopefully give the sod time to re-knit before anything came a-digging. Quinn wanted to say a prayer--which he did, and a fairly nice one it was. He didn't invoke a creator or other deities--just said a few kind words about Wonky, and why she had been his favorite chicken. The littlest sister gave this prayer a very sweet Amen.
Then we headed back to the barn to finish our barn chores and get everyone into bed.
Just another day and night at Tumble Rock Farm.