In memory of June.

I suppose there is some poetic synchrony in June departing just as her namesake month came to a close. It’s comforting to think of her basking in the lingering light of the solstice, making the most of her last days.

We’ve been down this road before. Ah, but it never gets easier.

The CE and I had both noticed that something was “off” with her. Of course, with June, something was always “off”. She was skittish and solitary from the get go, never quite making her way with the flock. She clung to mama Bella for the longest time until even Bella’s patience wore thin and June was left to make her own way.

She entered her adolescent awkward phase, and never quite left it. There’s always an odd chick out, and June was that chick.

She made up for it by laying the prettiest eggs:

For the past few weeks, however, she had seemed even more reticent than usual, browsing off by herself, tardy to join the flock when it was time to come in from a ramble. But here is the thing with chickens – with all birds, actually – their key to survival in the wild is to never manifest weakness because weakness can mean death. So, by the time we noted symptoms it was already too late.

I told myself the usual fable; “maybe this time it’s something treatable”. Called the vet to make an appointment but it was two minutes past 5 and they were closed for the day. We decided to separate her from the rest of the flock, but as the CE picked her up to move her she convulsed and within moments she was gone.

Gone is too simple a word here. Anyone who has lost a pet holds a memory of that eerily charged moment when the spark, the essence of a creature’s life departs. The strange, hollow silence that descends. I am reminded of a story I was once told about a local physician, an ardent non-believer, who nonetheless admitted that when a patient passed away there was a tangible, effable, almost material alteration of experience in the room. He could not deny that there was a departure of a soul, regardless of what he wanted to believe about where that soul was next bound.

Did June have a soul? According to Descartes in the 1600’s, indubitably, no. Animals were but “machines”. Settled science, as the saying goes today. But then just a century later along came David Hume, proclaiming that “no truth appears to be more evident, than that beast are endow’d with thought and reason as well as men”.

The subject is still debated today, which is why, by the way, when someone tells you to “follow the science” you may be embarking upon a very long journey. What I do know is that in the moment we looked down at June’s lifeless body, something had changed, all the June-ness – all the quirky, antic energy of who June was – had departed, and it was painfully sad.

She was four years old, which, in chicken years, is maybe not quite average and, given that she hadn’t laid an egg for quite some time, likely points to some sort of internal laying disorder. Still, there is always the worry of something contagious, and I’ve spent this week in vigilance over the remaining flock. Thankfully, all five remaining hens seem healthy, even Ginger, who is seven years old this month and, in defying all the odds, still lays the occasional egg.

Every time we lose a pet, the thought surfaces that it is too much tugging at the heart to go through this yet again. That thought surfaced as I watched the CE trudge down to the back of the property to lay June to rest along with all the other chickens, cats, dogs and other creatures who’ve graced our lives through the past decades. But the collective grief is still somehow outweighed by the collective joy and the ways in which their lives enhance our own. Descartes may disagree, but I believe animals have and are the very sweetest of souls. And may June’s rest in peace.

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”

– James Herriot

About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
This entry was posted in All Things Poultry and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to In memory of June.

  1. dizzyguy says:

    Yes, just a chicken, but still………

  2. Christina Tunger says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about June’s passing, she was not alone and now in God’s precious hands🙏❤️

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. ann7800 says:

    I am so sorry about June. I lost Bella last month, our showy sex link (Buff Orpington/Rhode Island Red). She was such a character, and the most beautiful of our hens. She had fatty liver disease not detected until too late. I noticed she had sent acting right, and took her in, was shocked to find out what she had was fatal. She was such an active hen it was had to believe. It was true that she was always the first to race to me for treats, or grubs.

    Your June looks like my smallest hen Aria, an Americana, who is my best layer.

    I love reading your posts!


    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Jean Gutsche says:

    What a beautiful, touching eulogy. I am so sorry you needed to write another sad piece. So poignant. ❤️Jean

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. citymama says:

    i’m so sorry. farewell, June. 💕

  6. Dad4Gracie says:

    Beautiful post, beautiful photos, and a beautiful ending quotation!

    • polloplayer says:

      Thank you so much. Enjoying your newsletter but I miss the Gracie blog 😢

      • Dad4Gracie says:

        I really appreciate that you follow along with the newsletter. If you have a chance to explain further…what is it that you miss about the Gracie’s blog? Just curious. Thanks! John

      • polloplayer says:

        I liked the interaction with seeing other reader’s comments and leaving comments of my own. Does the newsletter allow for that?

      • Dad4Gracie says:

        Thanks! The newsletter doesn’t allow for that type of conversation, just emails to me with comments. And I miss that too because I see how Gracie helps to connect bloggers who might not have met any other way.

        For the last two weeks, not all of the newsletters have been delivered. I know because I have signed up for it with my own separate email address (not the one that I used to set up the Revue account). That is a definite concern because I’ve been very consistent with sending them out every Friday at the same time.

        I just may start doing an almost duplicate here on WordPress…I will need to give it some thought this evening.

        Thanks again! Gracie and I appreciate you!

      • polloplayer says:

        Now that you mention it I don’t think I’ve received an email lately. There doesn’t seem to be a perfect platform – maybe Gracie should start tapping out 280 characters at a time with her beak and start a Twitter account 😉

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