Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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Friday, August 17, 2007

It just is




There must be a spiritual meaning when a beautiful pure white chicken dies on one's anniversary. Or do I just seek one because I know in my heart there is no rhyme or reason to it, it just is. Miss Miho was only with us a short time, since March or so, but she was part of farm, she gave us eggs, and she was valued. She was the tiniest hen of our small flock, the only pure white one, and the bottom of the pecking order from day one.

When I went to put the chickens in for the night, I knew right away there was something amiss. Miss Miho was faced towards a corner, like she was setting, not moving. Her head was bent to the side. She was still alive, but all the signs indicated she was on her way. Her eyes were still open, but when I picked her up, her breathing was heavy, and she was pretty much unconscious I believe. I was afraid she might just be pecked by the others, so I placed her in my wire egg basket in a white towel, and she spent her final hours with us on the deck. I stroked her and at some point could feel the heat leave her body. She lived another hour. We do not know why she died, and never will.

It had been a beautiful day, a perfect day in every sense. I had had a wonderful ride on Boone that morning, and spent a rare afternoon off the farm, enjoying a visit to the farmer's market to buy food for our anniversary dinner. I made a peach pie for Martyn, complete with one of my 'raggedy lattice tops".

But when Miss Miho finally died at about 1 am, I cried like a baby. You know, deep sobs, head in hands crying. Somehow the death of that one chicken allowed me to let go of many sadnesses in my heart - sadness that I intuitively know is coming. It's as if I needed to sob for future passings, of both animals, friends, loved ones, and myself. Someone recently told me they found farmers to be a lot more raw and primal than many people. I agreed with her, and on the farm I'm intuitively aware of the uncontrollable daily flow of nature, and unconsciously I am made aware of my own death over and over, and other's deaths too. It's just so matter-of-fact. For me it is best to feel strongly, in the moment. The farm allows me to do this in a different way than when I lived in the city.

We've decided to make a special chicken burial area by the cedar trees we are continually planting on the property line. She'll grow into them then, and my little bird and rodent cemetary is too small for the many future chicken burials. As we went to sleep last night, my husband of four years whispered to me, "You make my heart full."

12 comments:

Tai said...

Beautiful. I love this story and I completely understand how the grief over a single chicken could co-mingle with other past losses.

Beth said...

Sometimes life is just hard. I am convinced that the secret to a happy life is learning how to grieve gracefully.

Learning how to let go, to release our grasp, to be open to loss is key, because, after all, we can't receive into clenched fists.

I admire your courage.

Brett Engle said...

Beautifully written. Truly.

Thank you.

patrice said...

Thank you for sharing this most tender experience. I've been enjoying your blog, as a fellow "farmer/artist" and I can feel the loss of your hen, and your connection to the seasons of life and death.
This comes with care,
Patrice

Yolanda said...

I am sorry for your loss. I love reading about the farm and I love the drive thru the back roads to yamhill that I often take our dogs on.Sometimes coming out right below the swimming hole not to far from your house. The landscape here reminds of me of what I think tuscanny looks like and also never fails to soothe my soul.

farmingfriends said...

I am so sorry to hear about you lovely white chicken. This post brought tears to my eyes.
Sara from farmingfriends

nadine said...

A few tears here in North Carolina for Miss Miho...

leslie said...

thank you so much for connecting the loss of your chicken to our own future deaths. i feel the same way about all living things. it can be overwhelming to care so much for so many and reading your blog reminds me to live in the moment too. i wish i could move out to the the farm too, maybe someday! i really "get it" when you write about your experience there. thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Tears in Connecticut, too. After a long, hard day filled with petty grievances and warring factions at work, the death of a small chicken brings life back into perspective again. This is a beautifully written blog.

katie said...

i'm feeling so much gratitude happening upon your blog this morning. i sobbed after reading your beautiful story too, it touched my heart so deeply. thank you...

Amy C Evans said...

Sweet, Miss Miho :( I know she appreciated you taking such good care of her.

And now, that pie! Yum.

Must. Make. Pie.

SegoLily said...

I am fairly new to your blog and have thus far enjoyed it immensely! I felt moved to comment on this story because I felt the loss strongly - not entirely for the poor chicken who I never had the pleasure to meet, but for the the past losses I have endured. You are so right about each death symbolizing all death. Once you have lost someone dear, every death you encounter is like the death of your loved one again. The wound is always fresh. People think I'm silly for not wanting to kill anything (a spider say) or being very sorry and sad when some animal (they see as insignificant) dies, but what you said in your post explains my feelings. Each death represents all death.

Sorry to leave such a long dreary comment, I guess I just don't talk about it much and that wound was opened once again.

Thank you for the beautiful insight on a difficult subject.

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~