Sigh... I've been really sad lately. I just can't get over the loss of my darling Piyo, a Buff Orpington hen. She died on December 28, 2010. I really miss her. I had let all fourteen of my chickens outside after cleaning the coop, then went inside. Hawks have never bothered us. They were always too scared to come out of the woods near our backyard. So it was quite a depressing shock when a hawk swooped down and killed Piyo. I just wanted to share Piyo's story. I typed this not long ago, when I was remembering Piyo. I remember the day we went to get the six new chicks. Simone I had died not long before the coop was built, bringing the ten chicks down to nine. Shortly after the coop was built, on one of the Lilac Festival days, Piko died too. That shortened us down to five cockerels and three pullets. Three wasn't enough, so Dad sent Mom off to Tracker Supply Co. to get two more pullets. Funny, though. The smallest amount of chicks we could get was six. As Mom, my sister Katy, and I looked into the large, metal tubs full of chicks, a feeling came over me. I knew that six more chicks would be ours and I would love them, name them, and care for them, and in that order. Little did I know at the time that one of those chicks was a cute Buff Orpington that would become my favorite pet in the world. When we got home with the six new chicks, I quickly prepared the Rhode Island Reds' old box for the chicks, then found ways to tell the chicks apart. Soon, all of the new chicks were named. Katy named Piyo after Piko, since Piko had been her favorite. It took a long time to decided who to name Biscuit. It was a nice name for all these peepy, yellow chicks. Finally, we decided on one of the pullets. At first, Biscuit was my favorite. Of course, Squeak the RIR cockerel was my favorite chicken of all, but Biscuit was my favorite "buffy". When Biscuit got her toe jammed in the coop door some time in early summer or late spring, I cured it. This brought me closer to Biscuit, but smart little Biscuit took advantage of my love. Whenever I had food, Biscuit knew that she couldn't take it from me. So instead, she would put up with sudden, fake limp and peep pathetically as if she was in pain. Then I would laugh and toss her some food. The limp would disappear and Biscuit would dash after the food. Nowadays, Biscuit's toe is perfectly slender and straight again, to my relief. Then, some time in June (I think), my brother Geoff went to feed the chickens. After a couple minutes, he ran into my room and exclaimed, "One of the chickens is dead!" I quickly got dressed and ran outside, thinking: It better not be Piyo! After losing Piko, I'm not sure Katy could take this. All the chickens were outside except for one of the new ones. I saw Willow there, as well as Paulie (who was known as Polly back then), and Biscuit and Peanut. Susie was there too. So were all the RIR chicks. And I knew. I saw the pullet in the coop, her wings spread out around her, and knew who she was: Piyo. I knew there was nothing I could do, so I sadly picked Piyo up. I was very surprised when Piyo's open beak started to let out loud, shrill, screaming peeps. She was alive! Mushrooms had been growing here recently, so I assumed that Piyo had eaten a mushroom. I wasn't sure, but it was as safe a guess as any. After all, the chicks had a lot of free-ranging time and she didn't look like she had been beaten up. I thought that water would wash the poisons out, so I took the bottom part of Cadbury the rabbit's old cage and filled it with water, dipping Piyo's beak in it often and making her swallow. Finally, Piyo stopped screaming and only did it if I jarred her suddenly. Soon, it was school time, so instead of going inside, I grabbed my books and sat in the grass beside the slide to do my work. Piyo was flopped down beside me, occasionally trying to sit up. Every few minutes, I would give her more water. I stayed with Piyo all day. I ate my lunch outside and talked softly to Piyo, petting her. I wasn't going to let this chicken go. Around the time I knew Dad would come home, I put Piyo in a box in my room. That night, she slept in the box beside my bed. I got her to eat some chicken feed by putting it in her mouth and giving her some water. Then I went to sleep. I was sure that Piyo would be dead in the morning. But she wasn't, much to my relief. She even looked a bit stronger. I fed her and watered her, feeling better. Dad told me that she couldn't stay inside and that she would have to live in the garage. I kept little Piyo in my room for two more nights, then finally knew I would get in serious trouble, so I fixed up the old rabbit cage just right for her and kept her there in the garage. She had been strengthening the whole time and was starting to walk again. But she was still very small and weak. And she acted strange. Piyo and I grew close. I defended Piyo when another chicken bit her, and Piyo repayed me by keeping me company. Piyo and I were good pals were almost always together. I remember when my birthday finally came. We'd had a whole chicken (not one of my chickens, though!) in the freezer, so we decided to cook it for my birthday supper. It was too hot in the house, so we used the oven in the garage. Finally, the chicken was done. Mom was carrying it into the house and I wandered over to see it, carrying Piyo along in my arms. We were up very close to the chicken. Piyo stretched her neck out to observe it, then pulled herself back, chittering nervously. Mom and I laughed. "You'll never end up like that, Piyo!" I told her. Piyo's little chitters sounded funny. In fact, she made a lot of odd noises. When the other chicks started to "pluck", a combination of peeping and clucking, Piyo started to "plonk", a combination of peeping and honking! We often joke, even today, about Piyo's funny honks. "Maybe her mother was a goose!" I used to say to people, giggling. Now, I don't say those things as much. It hurts too much to mention Piyo sometimes. As Piyo grew a little older and her sickness faded away, she had eye infections and she often scratched her eyes, then squealed until she stopped. Luckily, we had some eyedrops that we had used when Squeak pecked my eye months before. Every day, we dropped the liquid into her eyes. She didn't like it and I was grateful that she knew better than to bite. Otherwise, I would have a scar for every dose we gave her! Eventually, little Piyo got better and I introduced her to the flock bit by bit. I remember one evening when I had to go inside, so I left Piyo next to the fence. I had set up the top part of the rabbit cage so it would be like a chicken run. I was busy and forgot about Piyo. After supper, any thoughts of Piyo had left my mind because I was so busy. The next morning, at 2 AM, I woke up because of a loud thunderstorm. I stayed in bed, thinking, Wait... did I put Piyo away? No. NO. I FORGOT! I jumped out of bed and quietly rushed outside. There was Piyo, sitting in her run, trying to sleep. As I got closer to the run, Piyo looked up and plonked softly. I grabbed the run, and Piyo, then went into the garage and put Piyo to bed, apologizing the whole time for forgetting about her. I gave her a goodnight kiss, said, "See you later!" then went back to my own bed, soaking wet from the rain. In the morning, Piyo was perfectly fine. She didn't catch a cold or anything. She was happy and active as usual. Piyo was as loyal as a dog and as smart as a cat. Whenever someone else picked her up, she would "clonk", the noise she started to make after plonking, and flap until the person put her down. Then she would run over to me. Whenever I happened to be sitting down and a chicken bit her, she would charge toward me, then fly up and sit on my head. I remember a day in winter, 2009, when I was trying to film my RIR cockerel, Alexander, crowing. Finally, I gave up because he never crowed when the camera was on. So I turned to Daisy the RIR pullet, who was sitting the nesting box next to me, laying an egg. Normally, a hen likes her privacy when she's laying an egg, but Daisy never minded me being around. She would cluck softly and watch me with her beautiful orange and gold eyes. And id she wanted me to leave, she would turn around and stick her head out the back of the nesting box where I couldn't see it. Anyways, I was sitting by Daisy and petting her. Suddenly, a heard Piyo scream, some feet scampering toward me, then the whoosh of flapping wings. Next thing I knew, there was a Piyo sitting on my head, saying, "Honk, honk!" and pecking my hair. Piyo was an amazing chicken. I will never forget her. She taught me a lesson; the same lesson I will say to everyone that read this: Never give up! Poor Piyo was dying, but I never gave up on her. I worked with her and she became healthy. She went back to live with the rest of the chickens and, in time, became a part of their flock again. If one of your chickens is dying, don't give up! Work, work, work. Do whatever it takes to save their lives! (or their toes, in some cases ) Sometimes when I go out to see my twelve remaining chickens (one of my White Leghorns, Fern, died not ago) and I'll see Biscuit and be reminded of Piyo. She's a Buff Orpington, like Piyo, but scrawnier and with paler feathers. So sometimes I'll see Biscuit and think that perhaps there is a chance she is back. But I know not too deep down that Piyo isn't coming back. Her body will remain by the roots of the big old pine tree. And I will try to keep this piece of land, which has been in my family for four generations, together. When/if this place becomes abandoned by my parents, I will take it and guard it for at least another generation. As for Piyo's "soul"? Well. May it rest in peace.