Katie R.I.P.

I worry about my parents. I thought of this when I saw my mother drive down my street and sheer the rearview mirror off a parked car. She did it with her own rearview mirror, which stayed in place. I knocked on the door of the house and Jerry told me that rearview had just been replaced and this was the third time someone had torn it off. I gave him my mom’s insurance policy number.

That wasn’t the worst thing that happened that evening.  A hawk attacked one of our chickens in the backyard. It tried to kill it and carry it away, and it left a scattering of feathers on the upper level but didn’t seem able to heft the bird over the fence. We found the hen down below near the chicken coop with its head torn off.

She was named Katie. She was a bantam Cochin chicken meaning she was overly small and that’s why the hawk went after her. She was the most beautiful chicken we had, with honey-brown feathers that were marked with black and white spots. She was the sixth chicken of ours that had died.

Katie was the last one whose name we were sure of. She lived with five other birds that were bigger, three of them we got from a chicken farmer who abandoned them because they weren’t laying at a good enough clip. My kids have learned about death by keeping animals.

Molly the cat went out one night and never came back. Did we hear coyotes howling that night? Sophie and a friend accidentally drowned two baby chicks. She and Nicholas sobbed later that night as we buried them in the garden. Neighbor kids watched as we buried Katie in a deep hole in the canyon. Sophie put a stone next to it. She wrote Katie’s name and age on the rock with a Sharpie.

Maybe they’ve finally learned that the chickens can’t be pets. Don’t give them names. We live in a tough neighborhood for pets.

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