She seemed fine after her egg binding incident, eating well, happily scratching with her girls. But we never did get another egg. So I wasn’t too surprised to find her pale and droopy on Wednesday night. I put her in her coop and braced myself for a possible Chicken Spa the next day.
But she never made it. I heard a hubbub in the henhouse early in the morning. Migas and Henny Penny were frantically flapping, but I couldn’t see Henrietta. When I opened the door, there she was. Poor thing.
She died in a most inconvenient spot. I had to lift the coop while Rob reached underneath, grabbed her, and put her in a plastic bag that had most recently contained two striped shirts from the outlet mall. We tried to accomplish this grim task without the kids noticing, but they knew something was up. I hated to tell them right before school, but there was nothing else we could do. Graham got a little teary, and Violet wailed for Henrietta while asking for two silkies to replace her.
Rob put the bag in an old tupperware and stuck it in the trunk of my car. I called the vet and animal control and the animal shelter. They were not interested in disposing of the body. So what to do? Our yard is six inches of topsoil resting on 20 feet of caliche. Burying a delicious carcass would not end well. And trash day is soon.
So…. umm… shhh… don’t tell the kids.
But we do miss Henrietta Universe. Migas and HP certainly seem a bit lost. She wasn’t the smartest of the flock, or the best layer, but she was friendly and calm and named after a great song. She was part of the family farm.
Today we had a little memorial for the sweet, dumb bird. We each held a zinnia cut from Violet’s garden, looked at pictures of Henrietta Universe over the past two years…
…and said one thing we liked about her:
Cheris: “I liked the way she hiccuped. She did it all the time when she got excited.”
Graham: “Ummmmm…. I liked that she was white.”
Rob: “I liked the way she squatted down so I could pet her.”
Violet: “I liked how sweet she was and her soft feathers.”
This undid Violet completely. Her little voice cracked, her eyes filled up, and she cried the rest of the evening. She wouldn’t throw her zinnia into the chicken run (my lame attempt at a some bittersweet gesture to close out the memorial ceremony), but instead made a special vase for it. Before she went to bed she brought the vase to me. “You put it in your room. It just keeps reminding me about Henrietta. I miss her.” Our tender-hearted girl, the chicken whisperer.
Good-bye Henrietta Universe. Thanks for all the eggs and good times.