Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Saying Goodbye to Jane
When my husband and I started keeping chickens about five years ago, we never thought we'd grow so attached to the birds. My mother still thinks I'm crazy to give them names and keep them long after they've stopped laying. For her, as a woman who grew up in a very rural area in Texas, chickens are for eggs and meat, not pets.
Obviously, I am not my mother. When we brought our first few chicks home from a feed store in Pleasant Grove, I fell in love with the fuzzy little creatures. We had to part ways with two of the original three, which turned out to be roosters, but we still had little Jane Gallagher who was sweet as pie and laid the most amazing, beautiful blue eggs.
She was timid by nature, so she was constantly being picked on by the other gals. We made sure she got plenty of treats regardless of Audrey or Elaine's moods. And when Scout passed away from the heat last summer, I though she would surely be sad to lose one of her close buddies. But she showed how incredible and resilient she was and found her new spot among our flock with ease.
It's crazy that I don't have a single bad memory of Jane. She was always a good-natured bird, if a bit skittish at first. She was quick to scurry across the yard if she saw one of us bringing out lettuce or an apple. We joked that she was famous because she was the only chicken we knew that had her picture in the paper.
Yesterday, though, the poor girl was going downhill fast. She was hit with some crazy infection and wouldn't eat. She was so weak that she couldn't lift her head. She was telling me that it was time. She was telling me that I needed to let her go. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.
I have to give a lot of credit to Dr. Lavender and the thoughtful staff at Metro Paws Animal Hospital in Lakewood. They were amazing, and didn't treat me as the crazy lady with the chicken. They were compassionate, and they gave Jane the dignified death that a good chicken deserves.
It was hard, holding her as she passed away, but I kept thinking about all the amazing memories we'd made, about how glad I was that Cooper got to meet her and give her some treats, and about how fast five years with a great little bird goes.
We'll miss you, Jane Gallagher.