I understand that animals live and die and that chickens are no exception. Usually, on our little suburban homestead, chickens die very purposefully: to be eaten and to make room for new layers. Of course, I care for the chickens that we eat though a few of our chickens are jerks. On the flip side, a couple of our chickens are pets and have earned themselves a name. Yesterday, my pet chicken Ianigena died of unknown causes.
Ianigena, a white faced black Spanish named for a Roman god, became a pet for her penchant to leap out of the brooder and cuddle up to doze in my lap. As a single-purpose bird (eggs!), it also didn’t make sense to eat her, especially when she was quite so affectionate. So, she became a pet, and I have enjoyed having her be a part of our homestead for almost the last year.
I don’t know why she died. Her body was intact, though my husband mentioned that her neck looked a touch funny. That could be because of how she fell when she died, but we also wondered about a possum. We’ve seen one in the yard, but we could not find a way that it would have entered the coop. Our coop is by no means predator proof, but we also saw no real access point left behind by a marauding possum bent on killing off a beloved pet chicken and scoring an egg or two in the meanwhile. So, it remains a mystery. Hopefully, it’ll continue to remain a mystery because otherwise we’ll have lost another chicken.
I’m sad that she’s gone, but I’m also grateful my husband was the one who found her, not me, and definitely not the foster kiddo who has been mostly caring for the chickens on a daily basis.
As the Romans would say, dis manibus sacrum. Sacred to the ghost-gods. Today, we are more likely to write on a tombstone phrases like rest in peace or in memory of. The Romans did commemorate their beloved pets of epitaphs and with grave markers, but I cannot pretend it was ubiquitous. While they may have honored a parrot or a particularly beloved sparrow, I’m sure no Roman would have honored a chicken with such an epitaph. I’m no Roman, and I’m certainly not about to establish a tombstone for my deceased chicken. A blog post, on the other hand, seems perfectly suitable.
May she rest in peace, free ranging, dust bathing, and clucking with satisfaction.