Olive Snook: Rest in Peace
January 29, 2014
Okay. Here goes.
On Monday, when we went outside to lock the girls up for the night, we noticed Olive Snook was missing. The other three were roosting, safe and sound, but Olive was nowhere to be found. We searched for hours with flashlights in the dark, and enlisted our neighbors to search their yards for any sign of her, but we were forced to go to bed that night, worried and unsatisfied.
The next morning, we woke up early, hoping she would magically appear for breakfast with the rest of the flock, but it wasn't long before our neighbor - the one with an adjacent backyard - came to the door to give us the sad news. As it turns out, Miss Olive was unsatisfied with the nesting options in our yard (I assume this because she seemed incredibly stressed during laying times, and kept moving her nest), so she decided to hop the 6ft. fence to see what was on the other side. Unfortunately, within the confines of that fence resides our neighbor's large husky, and dogs being dogs, Miss Olive didn't make it back out again.
Even before we decided to raise chickens last year, I knew there would be chicken casualties, and that they would be more commonplace than your typical household pet. I knew about chicken diseases and injuries, and that some tend to live longer than others. I also knew these losses would be hard on me. I grew up in a home where injured raccoons and opossums and even skunks were taken in and rehabilitated before being released back into the wild, so I was very much raised to value animal life. And Miss Olive? She's our first real pet loss, and we are mourning her.
If you follow my chicken posts, you'll know that Olive stole our hearts after her leg injury last summer. I would have considered her aloof before that, but after spending some quality time together while caring for her injury, she warmed right up, displaying a curiosity about us humans that she hadn't had before. She would follow us around in the yard, and didn't seem to mind if we felt like carrying her around in our arms. She would even hop up on the railing of our deck and peek in to see what we were up to.
I think the hardest part for me is the timing. Unlike our other three girls who started laying late last summer, Miss Olive didn't lay her first egg until two and a half weeks ago. Before then, she was scrawny and awkward, but toward the end of December was when she really started to mature. Her body seemed fuller and more healthy, her comb and wattles were red and plump, and her leg showed no sign of a limp. She was a pretty bird, and she was at her peak.
As they say, every cloud has a silver lining, and mine is the relationships we've built with our neighbors in the past year and a half of living here. Matt and I tend to be on the shy side, so although we make efforts when we can, we have to give credit to our chickens for sparking conversations we might've never had otherwise.
Although the circumstances were bad, this whole ordeal with Olive has connected us with a neighbor we hadn't met before, and despite the fact that our animals met with an unfortunate clashing, we were able to support each other through it. We even made a deal with them for a trade of goods: our fresh eggs for their homemade wine (and it's good stuff - we opened a bottle and gave a toast to Olive last night).
So there you have it, the conclusion of the story of Olive Snook (the Chicken). She will be missed.