Thursday, March 6, 2014

Last Egg

In chicken years, they were about my age.  No conventional egg farmer would have let them live so long past their laying prime, but time kept getting away from me, and they did do their best to lay an occasional egg, so I ended up coddling them through this brutal winter, buying them special grain  treats and filling their water dish with hot water laced with organic cider vinegar.

But although the retirement community to which we're moving is as green and granola as they come, they don't allow chickens.  Not wanting to postpone the inevitable, last night, in the dark, I plucked my hens one by one gently from the roost, and covering their heads with my hand to keep them calm, deposited them in the big dog crate, over which I then draped a dark cloth.

Today, in the clear, sub-zero dawn, we loaded the crate into the truck.  It was surprisingly light--old ladies don't weigh much--and my husband drove them to their final destination.

Except it wasn't exactly final, because nothing ever is.  Right now the hens are lying in state inside our freezer.  In a few days I will take them out and put them in the big stock pot with onions, celery and carrots, and let it all simmer for a day and a night.  Off the bones, the stringy meat will gladden the hearts of Wolfie and Bisou, and the rich broth will nourish my husband and me.  Thus, our six hens will literally become a part of us, until we in turn become nourishment for other forms of life.  Nothing is ever lost in this remarkably thrifty universe.

After my husband left with the crate, I went into the silent chicken coop.  I unplugged the heated water dish.  I looked at the frozen pile of droppings under the roosts and decided to wait until the spring thaw before hauling them to the compost pile.  Then I glanced into the nest and there was an egg, big and beige and frozen solid, one last gift from my last hens.

12 comments :

  1. ah, so poignant. and the final egg. oh, lali. this is beautiful.

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  2. If I thought I could say it better than Laurie did, I would try. Thank you.

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  3. Thanks, Laurie and Sandy. Letting go of the flock was harder than I thought it would be.

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  4. Ditto what Laurie and Sandy said. I don't have words to describe how sad this makes me feel or how beautifully and eloquently you write about it.

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  5. Not sad! Not sad! Remember how near we'll still be. And you've always liked Lake Champlain...

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  6. This makes me very,very sad. But at least the sun is shining, it will be 60 today and the daffodils are threatening to bloom!

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  7. I think I read this, or at least part of it, back when you first posted it, but couldn't comment because I was not on my computer. Like I said in a different comment, when I first met you online you were a goatherd and I was sad when you got rid of the goats. Now the chickens -- and you worked hard to make them a nice home. This is sad and this is beautiful.

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  8. Dona, at least I still have my dogs...

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