I have lost a lot of chickens recently--in a flock of nearly 200 birds, it's bound to happen--but last night I lost a rooster named Samurai who was a very special case. Samurai was a chick from my very first incubator hatch. Born with a deformed wing, he was unable to keep his balance, jump, fly, dustbathe, or engage in other normal chicken behaviors crucial to his health and well-being. If he lost his balance and fell onto his bad wing, he wouldn't be able to pick himself up again, leaving him prone and vulnerable. As a result, he couldn't be housed with chickens who would peck at him in his disabled state, and he had to be checked on regularly to make sure he hadn't fallen and become stranded again.
Perhaps as a result of his handicap and the special care he had to receive, Samurai developed a sweet and friendly nature towards people. He was always quick to rush up and greet me, and was happy to gently nibble treats out of my hand when they were offered. His sweet nature made the reality of his predicament all the harder to bear--eventually, we were going to have to put Samurai down. Though we do the best we can for all of our chickens, there was no way for Samurai to live a normal, healthy life. Prolonging it would have caused him pain and loneliness.
Nature, however, had her own plans. Last night, a predator found where Samurai had roosted for the night, and took matters out of our hands. Saddened though I am that Samurai is gone, I am also relieved that I didn't have to betray the trust of a chicken who saw me as his one ally in the big, brutal, and unfair world he'd been born into.
Rest in peace, my little friend. May you be a falcon in your next life.