I just scrolled through the photos on my cell phone to find the last picture I took of Mrs. Hall, who was my first and favorite chicken. Mrs. Hall and June had been spending a lot of their time perching on this wire box, which is placed in the strawberry bed where they had a view of the kitchen window. Mrs. Hall liked to spy on me while I washed dishes.
I took Mrs. Hall and June's picture after I moved the wire box off of a couple of strawberry plants that really benefited from having two chickens deposit a daily dose of fertilizer. Look how big those plants are! I moved the box over a scrawny looking plant so they could work their magic there, too.
I already miss Mrs. Hall. She was so friendly that she would let me pick her up if I wanted. Not that I wanted to hold her very often, even though she was soft and fluffy like a warm feather pillow, but because she wasn't afraid of me, I felt like we spent more quality time together. June is still a little wary of me, and if I pick her up, she gets very offended.
I could tell Mrs. Hall wasn't feeling like her usual voracious self when she didn't seem to be that interested in her meals or in the kitchen scraps I dumped in the compost. For a few days she wasn't very interested in her food, and her comb was droopy.
Then, last Tuesday morning, she didn't show up for breakfast at all, and I found her resting on the back porch. When I picked her up to examine her, she didn't stand when I put her back down.
I gave her some water and food and left her in the shade. When I got home from work, she was dead. Her head was tucked under her wing, and her eyes were closed. I think she just went to sleep and didn't wake up.
Brandon buried her in the garden, in the morning glories near where we buried Helen. I'm a little relieved that Mrs. Hall doesn't have to make the move with us to the little farm house. During her life she went straight from the brooder box in the house to living in our suburban yard, and spent six years as the queen of her little domain. She never had the stress of a move, or the stress of predators. Six years is a respectable life span for a chicken.
Mrs. Hall hadn't laid a egg since this spring, which was a relief, since egg laying would aggravate her prolapse, and result in a chicken bath and Preparation-H application that was a little awkward for both of us. I'm glad she had a season of retirement from egg laying.
I always enjoyed seeing Mrs. Hall in my garden. Her pretty black and white pattern will be missed.