Farewell Roxie, my girl.
My transformation from mental oblivion to conscious vegan began by distancing myself from the horrific world of animal agriculture that was slowly focusing into view. In the first moment I saw the crowding of hens stuffed into battery cages, I swore off eggs, or rather factory farmed eggs. There was no way I would support this madness, my only options then were for us to do without eggs, which at the time seemed quite the impossible, or to have our own egg-laying hens.
And so we entered the organic phase of life.
Now, those that know me know that when I set my mind to a thing it is hard set to no restraints, and often hastily so as was this time. But there was never a question that should we have hens, that they would be anything less than family. And so they are, but they needed their own space. I wasn’t quite ready to offer a spare room to my feathered egg-laying family, besides the wooden and tiled floors were far too slick for their feet. So to the tune of $2500 I purchased an Amish made 6 x 7 foot walk-in coop, installed a heater and air conditioner, built a matching 7 x 17 foot enclosed metal-roof run with a door open to the backyard. A quaint little setting this is and a little more than year later I had it all paid for; calculating the overall cost of our eggs thus far to be roughly $75 a dozen, a conservative figure, but it was money well spent.
Their comfort and wellbeing was of the utmost concern. And it didn’t matter to us if they laid an egg or not. They were our “girls” and the eggs were a bonus.
The five took to the comfort and security as they settled in their new climate controlled home, recently equipped with baby monitor. Their only exposure to a rooster is the framed picture of a proud and handsome cock hung over the hen door. Although they would soon find the company of two rescued-from-a-feed-store Easter ducks who took right to the accommodations.
Roxie was always my favorite; I suspect this in itself had a hand in her early demise for who hasn’t felt the vindictive spite of the Gods’. Their demented pleasure they lavish in by denying us our most treasured pleasures. To hell with them I say and to how they play us with their taunts of foreboding.
Yes, I foresaw Roxie’s final moment coming. Not with any clarity of detail or lending of any specifics that might have prevented this tragedy, but with knowledge that soon she’d leave, at least she’d be the first to go. I had this same premonition before my father died. When at my first revelation two years prior to his death I recall how suddenly I cried out as I walk through the house, the home he helped us buy and remodel. “No! No not yet, just a few more years with him,” I begged. And in their uncharacteristic mercy, the Gods granted my request, but only for two short years—such is the miserliness of these Eternal bastards.
Our girls are joy to us and we love them whole-heartedly. I treasure each one’s unique character and it fills me with delight and laughter to see them run / fly to greet me at the gate each evening as they see my Jeep pull into the drive. Yes, I’ll miss the way Roxie snuggled up next to me for her back rub, and the way she would fluff her feathers out and shake it off when finally she’d have enough caressing.
Ironic it is that the very roof I built to shelter them would hold back the ice from the recent Polar Vortexes, and how unsuspectedly a thaw would have it sliding down finding Roxie beneath, this my only explanation for her injury. The veterinarian offered a glimmer of hope for recovery and indeed Roxie seemed to improve. That was until last evening when suddenly she could no longer stand on her own without falling over backwards. I spent that night on the sofa holding her close to my chest as she slept and I often thought she died in my arms, so quiet and still she lay. Though she would occasionally awake and chirp softly, telling me she loved me. And I said to her in reply, I love you too Roxie, my girl.
I wept like a child, as I wept for every friend, family, and animal companion that passed through my now accumulating years. I curse this my soft character that chokes my speech, quivers my lips, blurs my sight, and weighs so heavy on my spirit for what seems to be one damned loss after another. For in the headstrong hardened facade I wear as an anarchist, I’ve nothing more than a heart of mush. A coward whose greatest fear is to live a long life sentenced to the fate of having to endure the passing of all whom I love, and yet who lacks the courage to end it all.
Her body rests in the backyard near the fence. Her sisters and her friends the ducks gathered quiet and unmoving around her grave for some time after I shoveled the last bit of dirt upon her.
Good-bye Roxie, my girl, we miss you.