Ruby, our production red chicken, died early yesterday morning.
It could have happened the night before, also. I wasn’t there and I’m no veterinarian or forensic investigator. Whenever she died, she was already stiff and cold by the time I did my morning check on the chickens at 7:30 a.m. She was just lying there among the fir shavings, slipped off the roost, no injuries or wounds. No signs of pain or struggling. Just gone in her sleep.
The day before she had laid a very small egg – about half the size of her normal eggs. But otherwise she was fine. Bright red comb and wattles, shiny feathers shimmering in the late afternoon sun. She wandered around the yard scratching and pecking for bugs and other tasty morsels. She came running back to the coop with the others (waddle, waddle, run) when I waved their dinner of rainbow chard and lettuce leaves. There was no sign, not the least indication that something was wrong.
I love all the animals that share our home and our lives. However, I wouldn’t say I was particularly attached to the chickens. There seems to be a very fine line between them and the rest of our pets. They are livestock. They have a job to do for us, and while I love being out in the garden while they chuckle and chortle and wander around, I feel pretty pragmatic toward them. They will stop laying eggs eventually, and we will probably eat them at that point.
I know people will loudly disagree with me, but as far as I’m concerned chickens don’t really have personalities. They cluck, they poop, they scratch, they eat. Sure, they make me laugh, like the other day when all four of them were chasing a grasshopper around the backyard, cackling in delight, their large chicken bosoms heaving and wobbling with the effort. But for the most part they ignore me, save to shamelessly beg for kitchen scraps and to be let out of the coop.
Ruby though. Ruby. She was always the nicest chicken. The one who followed us around and jumped onto our laps when we were sitting in the backyard. The one who would peck loudly at the back patio door and then walk confidently inside like it was where she belonged. The one who let the girls pick her up and carry her around like she didn’t mind in the least.
I will miss that chicken.