They did not march away in search of adventure. There was no blood, raccoon, or chicken screams involved. Nor were there any savory delights served with a sprig of rosemary.
In the internet age one gets rid of chickens via the World Wide Web. Hubby simply posted “Seven Free Chickens” on Craigslist and by the time I arrived home they were gone. He was done with chicken farming, too.
We had a good run with them, the family and I. raising babies, snuggling with the kids, sitz baths in my shower for the egg bound, and fresh eggs. It was the end of an era.
It came down to this, chicken care was just one more job on a list. It wasn’t difficult or even time consuming but to walk down the stairs each morning, clean nest boxes, fill water, and feed them had become too much in otherwise busy lives. There was also that minor point that some had stopped laying. The concern about rats continued to lurk in our minds. Now that time has passed, I can admit that I was overly optimistic about Wild Cat’s happy life here. She was too traumatized by temporary captivity to realize the dream. One day, as we neared the end of her acclimation time, I brought her food down and found her cage empty. Either Harry Houdini had reincarnated with fur or I was not as meticulous with that door as I had thought. Although she had escaped, we continued to leave food for her until we saw the neighbor’s fat cat helping himself. But this is about chickens, not cats.
For a while the silence was eerie. It reminded me of a day when airplanes were grounded. Until then, I hadn’t realized that the sound of jets overhead had woven into my days. The departure of the hens left a similar void. No rustle of fallen leaves as birds scratched for buggy snacks. No cluck calls in the morning asking to be let into the yard. No contented ladies nestled in dirt to receive warm sun on outstretched wings. And the dandelions returned with sass. The backyard moonscape, with its absence of greenery and abundance of rocks and pine cones, was no more. The dandelions found new purpose in the world, be fruitful and multiply. They have become a devout lot.
Recently I gazed down at this field of weeds called my backyard and had a fleeting thought, maybe one or two chickens would help. It was then that I came to myself and found peace with the loss of our pets. Life is full enough these days with a teenage boy, preteen daughter, live-in students from foreign lands, and a trail of dogs we pet sit for. I don’t need one more thing to do. Five years is a good spell for this former chicken farming family. See you at the farmers’ market.