(Warning: long post ahead. One of my favorite hens just passed this morning, and I had to type up a few thoughts to remember her by. She was a friendly little gal and really one of a kind, for a chicken.) Dear Amber, Do you remember, all those years ago, when I picked you up from the feed store? You were a little thing then, able to fit in the palm of my hand. You were so small and fluffyI was so sure you were going to blow across the yard like a tumbleweed with the slightest breeze! Of course, you never did. But if youd had, Im sure youd be laughing the whole way. Do you remember how fast you grew up? At a week old you were queen of the basement, exploring all that wonderful playground of boxes, paint cans, and, of course, your human servants. You liked to leap off our laps, scare me to death throwing yourself onto the concrete floor, run in little circles, then do it all over again! Im sure you remember your dog crate home. How you used to fly out of it every morning as soon as I opened the door and begin trying to eat every one of my freckles. You were so proud of rescuing your momma from those horrible dots! Id laugh at your proud strut after a job well done while trying not to cry from the pain. Surely you must remember your first time outside! You were the first of your sisters to step out from the cardboard box and look up at the sky, marveling at how big the world really was. Of course, you promptly forget this new revelation as you discovered the joy of dry encrusted worms on the driveway. Every day after youd beg to be let outside; it was impossible to curve your desire for adventure! I dont know about you, but I remember that first night in your new temporary coop. Id come out in the late evening to check on you, and, wouldnt you know it, you and your sisters decided to dig your claws into my clothes, perch on my head, and never let go! I felt so bad pulling your claws out of my hopelessly ruined clothes and putting you to bed. You cried your little heart out as it got all dark, but when I came out that next morning, you were the happiest little chick Id ever set eyes on! Why? Because it was time to explore! Do you remember the first time you met the big, bad broody girls? Well, they werent broody at the time, but they were so often that it was hard to tell when the werent! They had a hard time keeping up with you, you were too fast for them. But, hey, they warmed up to you, and yesterday you were best of friends, running through the grass and digging in the compost together in perfect harmony. A worm shared was a good token of your friendship. I feel so bad when I remember that first time you tore your crown. You werent even a year old, and youd given yourself a horrible cut on the back of your head. You werent happy about being examined, but you were patient, and I was able to get you fixed up. From that day on, your crown was always crooked in the back. But you know what? It was so you! Amber, if theres one thing I remember about you, its the way you treated your fellow animals! At the age of four weeks you were all ready scaring the wits out of our kitty, who learned to watch you from a safe distance or hed get a swift kick to the legs. Safety for you, however, was relative. I remember when someone came home and yelled that there was a fox out back with you and your sisters, and that hed seen you chasing a fox into the field! I was so scared for you, and we searched and searched for a whole hour and couldnt find you anywhere! I was about to give up hope when, wouldnt you know it, you ran out of the field, disheveled and angry, but unharmed. You were just thirteen weeks old. Whether it was butterflies, bunnies, deer or foxes, you always had some trick up your sleeve! I remember seeing you sprint across the yard, a chicken smile over your face while you chased some poor little rabbit into the fields. You involved your sister Buffy in your next diabolical plan, defending the compost pile from an enemy deer. The contest was a draw, but you didnt stop there! I remember last winter hearing someone yell that a hawk had just dove down and tried to grab one of your buddies! I ran outside and, wouldnt you know it, there were feathers everywhere! Yet when I came into the coop, everyone was alive and well. From one look it was clear that the hawk had dove for you, Amber, but all you were missing were a few tail feathers! I was scared, but more for the hawk than you. I never saw him again. And then you got sick. I remember treating you for everything I could think of, from worms to infection, from crop problems to forcing you to eat castor oil. Nothing helped, and you just got sicker and sicker. Finally I brought you inside, thinking that the end was near, but Id underestimated you. I had nursed you back to health in a matter of days, and it wasnt long before you were running with your buddies to go pick the newly ripened berries dropped from the trees. But you got sick again, and this time I knew it was the end. I treated you as I had before, with no effect, and all I could do was watch and make your life a little more comfortable. But you didnt feel the pain I was feeling at watching you struggleyou wanted to live, and so I let you. Even when you were gasping for breath, you were out running around with your sisters, eating bugs and rolling in the dirt. Even when it seemed you were on your deathbed, you jumped right back up and had your fill of watermelon, corn, and all that good stuff you loved. Even while you chased rabbits and lead expeditions to the neighbors bird feeder, I knew that you wouldnt last the winter. Today, I was proven right. Amber, you were the roughest-toughest BO of the hood. You were tomboy, egg machine, fox-chaser and tough cookie all rolled into one. You were truly one of a kind, and both your sisters and I miss you terribly. But at the same time, we feel blessed to have had you a part of our lives. Goodbye, Amber.