Well it's taken me a while to work up the nerve to write about it.
We lost a friend, just before New Year's Day.
We had noticed that our Sadie chicken was acting a little odd. She wasn't roosting with the other gals at night, but rather hanging out on top of the nest box, all alone.
She didn't come running when we opened the back door anymore.
She wasn't dishing out the chicken gossip anymore either… none of her funny expressive talking noises greeted us when we ventured out.
But, it was smack in the middle of the holidays, and cold, and frankly by the time that it really hit us that something was awry, it was probably too late.
When it finally DID occur to me that Sadie was not being Sadie, our bossy, friendly, busy body, loyal, old gal, I began to watch her closely. I noticed that she was making a funny gurgly noise when she breathed. She was stretching out her neck too, like she was trying to clear her throat.
So we brought her in.
We wrapped her in a towel that we had warmed in the dryer.
We tried to entice her with warm oatmeal, but our girl who always LOVES her food, would have none of it.
We dripped water into her mouth with an eye dropper, and we gave her some oil too, thinking that she had something stuck in her throat.
It was sad.
It was SO very sad to watch my little farmer, my oldest, Luke, hug her and rock her and promise her that "Papa will help you, honey. Papa's going to make it all better."
And she did get better.
She seemed like it anyhow.
She was poking her head out of the box and acting like she'd like to get out.
So, we took her out to the deck, where we'd stuck our Christmas tree until we could figure out what to do with the thing.
My loving little man took his girl, ever so gently, out of the box, and then it happened.
Sadie gave a horrible hollar, ran under the Christmas tree, and flopped over on her back and died.
It was awful to watch, awful, but not nearly so awful as what it did to my poor guy.
He was a wreck for days. He cried and cried.
He felt bad that he'd told her he'd make it better, and he couldn't.
He felt sure it was a sign that he wouldn't make a good farmer.
He wondered if she went to heaven, and would he see her again?
He wondered if the other chickens would miss her.
He wondered did she know that he tried? Did she know that she was loved?
It was heartbreaking, all of it. But quietly reassuring too. His heart is big, and if he so chooses, he will be the very best kind of farmer. I think that he'll be the very best kind of Papa too. Of that I'm certain.
It stinks though, to see someone you love so much hurting SO much.
We talked a lot about what we could do to remember and honor his friend.
And then he set to work, doing what he felt should be done.
In the mean time, I contacted Lorilee of MamaKoppShop. I told her the story and asked for her help. I needed to give my man something to hold onto. Something to help him grieve his friend.
I cannot tell you how much I appreciate her soul and talent. I just sat right down and cried when i saw what she came up with.
So did Luke, when I showed him. It was exactly what I hoped for… his chance to hold Sadie, and think about her and the good times they shared, anytime he wants.
She stays right by the candle holders that we all had a hand in making out of the Christmas tree.
There are three tall candles for the boys she left behind, and four small candles for the chicken friends that no doubt miss her.
The rest of the tree is being turned into blocks, because we thought Sadie would like her tree to be made into something that her boys would like to play with.
I know. I know. We're talking about a chicken.
But to us, she was a very dear friend.
So we light the candles, when we need to, and we talk about all Sadie's funny chicken ways, and it helps.
It really does.