Sunday, August 15, 2010

Loss of a friend

I won't lie; somedays keeping livestock sucks. You get so used to seeing these animals as part of your everyday experience that when you lose one, even though they aren't pets, it still hurts. Sometimes people think that because we raise animals for meat that we don't care about them but I consider myself a much bigger animal lover nowadays than I ever did before I moved to the ranch or during my vegetarian years. It takes a special kind of love, care and appreciation to have animals come in and out of your life and sometimes, no matter how hard you try to keep a distance, you still get attached.

I lost my friend Lucille the other day. She was my favorite chicken, an ornery old barred rock hen. She would follow you everywhere, frequently attend our impromptu management meetings in the barnyard and of course gobble up Zoe's dog food.

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There are gaggles of chickens running around here. Some are friendly, some are not, some have names, most don't. Lucille was the first chicken we ever gave a name, bestowed to her by our friend Kristen. I always loved the name. It was the middle name of my Great Nana, Wanda Lucille. She passed this summer too at age 95. Whenever I would have a tasty treat to offer my chicken friend and called out "Lu-ciiiii-lle", it reminded my of my sweet nana - even more so after she passed.

It seems a bit silly to be misty about a chicken but I'm not like this with each one. I picked up a dead hen from the chicken house the morning and while I was sorry to see her go, I knew the poor dear was old and that was part of life. But that doesn't mean that I don't miss Lucillle.

Who will run-waddle over to the basement door and beg for some cat crunchies? I would usually oblige but only if she didn't eat them off the ground. I would tell her, "Now you have to eat them out of the dish. We are civilized around here after all."

Who will I see all fluffed up and taking an afternoon nap curled up next to the dog and cat on the welcome mat by the front door?

Who will sit next to me as I prep the garden beds in the spring? I would clear the quack grass, she would clear the worms. Maybe she would scratch out the lettuce seedlings too but that's OK, you could chastise her like a dog and she would go sulk somewhere else until you called her back for an exceptionally juicy worm.

Who will beg for scraps from the compost bucket and jump straight up in the air to get that dangling carrot peel from your hand?

Oh well, such is the lives of animals. They are such a big part of our lives when they are around that we feel at a loss when they go. It stings for a while, but they continue to live on in our memory.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Oh no. :(

Lucille was a good chicken, and she had a good chicken life.

I can't tell Kristen this news, she will be devastated. She loved her so much!

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