Sunday, May 31, 2009
With great regret I write today
I was so tired that night, it was almost 8pm when I came up from working in the field for four hours. I did my nightly feedings, and as usual, finished with tucking all the chickens into their secured house. But there was no Inkie. She had been setting for the past two weeks. I had even bought fake plastic eggs to give her - this lets me still take the fresh eggs from her roost, but leaves her with something to set on, otherwise she starts hiding eggs out in the barn somewhere. She is a fierce and loyal setter, so when I saw that she was not in the roost as usual, I knew she was in the old barn somewhere, tucked on an egg. She had done this several times in the past, and once she was gone for two days and nights before she returned. The old barn is not secure, but since she had done this before, I let it go. I was tired. "she'll be ok..." I assured myself. I just wanted to sit down.
The next morning, I expected to see her in the barnyard, but didn't. I fed everyone, did chores, and went back to the studio, thinking she'd be around later. Her hiding spots are almost impossible to find. Later that day, I went to try to find her in the part of the barn she favored for hiding. And I found feathers, everywhere. One pile led to another. They were Inkie's, no doubt. I followed the trail of feathers to the fence line by the woods. No body, no blood.
It was most likely a raccoon. Our first chicken death by a predator [which might have been Lyndon Baine's demise too]. But I was 50% responsible. My selfishness contributed to Inkie's death. If I had just tried to find her hiding spot, I might have.
Inkie came to us as an adult chicken, who knows how old. We had noticed her eggs were getty runny, a sign of age [or nutrition issues, but all other hens were laying well]. Martyn said nature took it's own course, but, I was part of that nature too.
Inkie was a Bantie, and we always laughed when we'd see her rush across the barnyard in the morning to get to the compost pile for her worm breakfast. She ran like a Muppet, we always joked. Or like a little person in a chicken suit. She gave us a little white egg every day for 2 and half years, and helped brood Vivienne, Gracie and Chicken Named Dog. It seems to me these are accomplishments to be proud of.
I hope it was a quick kill. One can torment themselves imagining the last minutes of any one's death. That's the journey we only experience once, on our own, even if surrounded by loved ones, or creatures of the night.