A Very Sad thing happened yesterday.
Katie, our big brown clucking Dear Old Thing of a hen, was put to sleep.
Saw her out in our hen garden, looking all fluffed up and sorry for herself. Picked her up to check her out and she felt hot, and her tummy seemed huge.
With laden heart took her to vet.
In a box.
(Which said on the side... McChicken Nuggets.
Vet had a quick look at her and told me without fuss or preamble that he thought it was kinder to put her down straight away.
Somehow it is fine to have a weep when you take in your dog or your cat, or even your child's rabbit. But taking a chicken to the vet is just ever so Slightly Silly. And I was damned if I was going to cry. Which I wanted to do. A Lot.
Especially while he did the deed to darling Katie.
Keeping my mouth tightly wedged together so that I wouldn't do a Big Girly Weep, I held Katie while he put a needle into the tiniest vein under her wing.
Kept the tears at bay while I watched her flail about in my hands, held firmly against her poor sore side. Watched her talons stretch out, over and over, while the strange spasms seemed to go on and on.
Managed to wash my hands briskly while asking the vet if I could take Katie home to bury her.
'Course you can,' he said. So kindly. Busying himself with needles and paraphernalia.
Placed Katie and her McNuggets Box by my side as I drove her home for the last time.
And Sobbed. Loudly. Wept. Snotty, racking sobs all the way home.
Bathing Youngest later on, I knelt down by the bath. Asked him gently and tenderly how he was about Katie.
'Oh, fine,' he said. 'It's only a chicken, Mummy.'
And washed between his toes.
She wasn't to me.
Today we buried her.
In the McNuggets Box.
Husband, Me, Middle Son, Daughter and Youngest.
'Are Farder,' we all said.
The other chickens watched and scratched about as we did so. Toby the cat came and had a look. Wee'd in a hole nearby, as you do at funerals.
Milly the rabbit peered through the fence.
Chewing like a Cowboy.
And in the midst of all the earth heaped up ready to put back into the Burial Hole, we found a Bright Sparkly Crystal. Huge. Just there. I picked it up and cleaned it on my jersey. And passed it to Tearful Daughter.
'Look,' I said. 'A Jewel!'
And it sparkled like her eyes.
And Cheered us all.
Here she is. Our Katie.
One Big Brown egg every day.
And a cluck as comforting as Warm Socks in winter.
Bless you, old girl.