Roxie and the girls waiting at the gate
Roxie and the girls waiting at the gate

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.


  1. Tears for Roxie. Although attachment brings the pain of loss, I could not imagine life without the warmth of our non-human companions.
    But it is always sad when they leave us. Take care.


  2. WOW. I am so sorry, Peter. I am glad you have a “heart of mush” –and the animals you care for I bet appreciate it as well. I have a friend who rescued two roosters and I remember when one of them died she was absolutely devastated. I have lost cats and have felt similar, overwhelming grief. Powerful, amazing story, and again, the animals are blessed to have you to take care of them.


      1. I love that photo, thanks. You know, I don’t share this with many people, but one of my dreams is to live in a place with a nice piece of land and a lot of rescued animals, including chickens. Reading what you wrote–despite the heartbreak (or maybe because of it, because of how you describe how you were bonded with yours)–makes me want to do this more than ever. Unfortunately our animal companions are typically way more fragile than us. Peace 🙂


  3. What a tender heart you have, Peter. I am so sorry for your loss of Roxie. Your poem is a beautiful tribute to her. We too keep chickens, whom we feed, rather than they feed us. All live in the lap of luxury, all live to a ripe old age and all are buried in our garden with daffodils to mark the spot. Many, many tears are shed with each loss. 🙂


    1. Thank you for your kind words, Amelia. Hens are such a gentle and loving creatures, aren’t they. I like the idea of your daffodils, and must do something similar to mark Roxie’s plot, perhaps a flowering bush of some sort that the other girls can take shade beneath. I wonder though, would they eat the flowers? 😉


  4. Hi, Peter. My wife would like to get chickens one day. This was a touching tribute to Roxie, she was clearly a part of your family.


    1. Hi Jeff. You’re wife will sure to have pets then. They are such loving birds, and so intelligent. One of the few animals that see in color and who have Rapid Eye Movement when they sleep–indicating they dream.


      1. That was a great video! I also shared it with my daughter who is interested in animal rights. She has been schooling me on factory farming and animal testing.

        Thanks, Peter.


  5. I found this very moving indeed Peter, and have often cursed my own soft heart for the pain it inflicts upon myself, however, it gives such happiness and joy to us also, and more importantly to those creatures who cannot ask for the help they need, yet show us again and again how much they love us for it. Every animal that comes into our lives is just as string an individual as every human, it’s just a shame that others often do not recognise this. At least we, and a select band of others do. It is, and will always be worth it. I’m sorry for her demise and agree entirely that the gods often choose those we are drawn closest too first.

    – sonmicloud


    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, sonmicloud. It comes as a welcome to me that you remind me of our tenderness worthy of the price we pay. As I look out my window, the girls strut about, happily, pecking at the ground for the wild birdseed strewn and bugs who haven’t a chance of survival in this yard.


  6. I’ve always wanted to raise a few city chickens and read a book one time titled simply KEEP CHICKENS. Peter, you wrote this well over a year ago, but I’ve only now seen it, and feel it is a very moving encomium. Do chickens really curl up on your chest and sleep, even sick ones? What a picture that is. So pretty, this whole piece, moving so easily and engagingly along.
    Led me to want to Follow your work, but doesn’t mean I’ll get to read it very often. I have low vision and don’t keep up with the writings I’d like to, don’t see Jeff’s but every few weeks, and don’t write on my own blog very often. But you’re quite a poet, and also quite at home, I expect, in the long, sometimes beautiful history of anarchism.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Martha, these girls are such sweethearts I tell you. They’ll talk to you, tell you good morning, good night, welcome home, and respond to instruction like, time to go to bed. One, Mable, near bedtime if we’re not outside comes to the stairs and waits to be put up for the night. Do you know that chickens are one of the few animals that see in color and have rapid eye movement when they sleep, suggesting they dream? At least that’s what I’ve read.

      Thanks for stopping by Martha.



  7. I loved reading this again about Roxie in your arms as she died! Will try to place this on Facebook (though Facebook is waiting, not very patiently, for me to get a new “browser”). And I liked your poem today! Death as deliverance . . . yes . . . escape from the world we’re now trying to destroy is on my mind a good bit these days, and no doubt it’s the same with many others.

    Liked by 1 person

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