It was a high stress week, last week, for us. Anyone following will recall that last Monday, Mad Max decided to sample a few pieces of lily leaf and we subsequently learned just how toxic lilies are to cats. After two nights and three days in hospital, I'm relieved to say that Max is fine and suffered no lasting effects from his adventure.
The weekend was much better. I've gotten my vacation set up, even managed find super cheap tickets and get them bought, I spent Monday with the woman who taught me to ride - and in truth taught me a huge amount about life - and I got a whopping 17 new pages written on two different stories and also got several pages edited that belong to an old story that I'm reworking. It was an awesome weekend.
Which is why I never expected to face a dead pet this morning. Woebegone, my ancient rooster (whom some of you may remember from waaaaay back as both a thunderbird, and one of the Demon Chickens from Zorgnog) has been ailing recently, and though he seems happy and comfortable, I know his time is limited. But it wasn't Woebegone I lost. It was little unassuming Henni Penni whom I found lying dead in her favorite wallow, in the front corner of the chicken pen.
It was fast. Probably a raccoon, because whatever it was reached through small gauge chicken wire and wrung her neck. I'll spare you anymore details, except to say that because she was in her wallow, which is dusty, I know truly that it was fast, virtually instant. The smooth dust proves that. No struggle. No terror. She likely never woke up.
I was so shocked, that for a few moments I just stared, trying to grasp the fact that she wasn't busily chattering to me while waiting for her breakfast.
I was very, well, human, about losing her, at least right at that moment. We forget, so very easily, when animals whom we love are, within the realm of the natural world, basically food. People who raise animals and subsequently butcher them understand this, and rarely forget it. But those of us, even the ones with farm experience, who don't regularly raise animals and then kill them, easily forget.
To me, Henni wasn't a walking main course, or an egg machine. She was a little wily person, who'd dominated her first residence (and gotten her beak cropped for it) and who had escaped that place, wherever it was, and hit the open road in search of a better life. She'd found my sister, who had in turn, brought her to me, and at my house, she'd gotten what she seems to have always wanted. Adventure and solitude and one aged rooster, who didn't ask much of her, and was a nice companion, when she felt like being companionable. But to the rest of the natural world, she was food. And sometimes, no matter how much we try to protect creatures, to shield them from their own being, nature finds a way of reclaiming them. No human walked by and opened the chicken pen and killed Henni Penni for love of killing. Some animal (probably an asshole raccoon - the only good raccoon, to me, is a Rocket raccoon) saw an opportunity to grab an unsuspecting meal, and attempted to take that opportunity. That animal failed, but in the end Henni still rejoined the natural circle, because I took her small body out into the woods and left her under an oak sapling, that both the tree, and some other animal might benefit.
I will always remember Henni Penni as a very small entity, with a very large personality, someone who didn't look at herself, or her situation and ever consider, even for a moment, that she might be incapable of changing her own stars. She simple went out and changed them.