Two of our chickens died yesterday.
The girls watched as he dug two holes far out in the pasture – one for Lourdes, a meek gray cochin hen, and another for Henny Penny (the hen who ate the lizard).
I had a few questions for the teenage boy working at the feed shop, inquiring how and why. The stress of the move? Dehydration? Parasites? The conversation ended with a beautifully sad revelation. The two of them had died near each other and within the same hour. He said it was the flock/herd mentality: chickens sense these things – sickness and impending death – and often they die in pairs or threes.
Lemon, our white leghorn who has looked like death for weeks, was on her way out as well. The girls and love nurtured and cared for her as I made my way home. I spoke to her, too. She’s a scrawny little girl who wants nothing more than to have some babies. In the old house, she was the brooder and egg hoarder. So, I promised her. (Yes, I did.) If she pulled through – I’d get her a rooster and she could finally have her nest and some chicks. As the sun headed toward the horizon, we fed her some watermelon, and I watched her slowly make her way to Henõ Penõ, the other remaining one (who was the outcast of the flock and completely unphased by what had killed the other two). Lemon was too weak to perch for the night but curled up below Henõ.
She survived through the night. This morning, she pecked at the leftover watermelon and moved through the yard.
A good sign.
Things are happening here on the farm: the 4:30am animal party – every morning – each animal praising the new day, this lesson of death, two scorpion sightings, the girls cleaning their tree house, llama love, little L’s laughter, and the list of things-to-do-and-fix grows and grows.