We will never forget you, our beloved Guinevere
by Desiree LaBeaud
(San Mateo, CA, USA)
We are a family of five and took home 5 chickens from my son's kindergarten class in May of 2019. We had watched them in the incubator as eggs in the classroom and eagerly awaited their precious hatchings.
Finally the day came in late May and after a week we brought our fluffy tweeting chicks home. Two of the 5 (Princess Laya and Cuddles) ended up being roosters, so we paid $50 each to find them farm homes, but the three hens: Guinevere, Pickles and Toothless, became our prides and joys.
Guinevere was my chicken, Toothless was my youngest son's hen and Pickles was my middle son's hen. We never knew their sex, so Toothless and Pickles always went by male pronouns, but Guinevere, with her shock white blond feathers, was always a girl, Guinevere Chikira.
I had always wanted chickens and dove right into this new adventure. I was soon dubbed "the chicken whisperer" of my family and would have conversations with my girls. I have three human boys so these three girls were a welcome brood of estrogen in a very testosterone-rich life!
Most days they would tottle around the back yard eating grass and bugs and each had a particular personality. Guinevere was the most curious, most brave, and most mean! In fact, I feared Guenny- as I called her, but I respected her and so did the other hens.
Just the other day, my oldest son said, "I love her mom - all you have to do when she runs at you is pick her up and hang her upside down for a bit. She calms down quickly." She was the leader of the pack and was a joy to know and love.
This morning when I went to open the door of their racoon-proof coop, only two chickens ran out, Toothless and Pickles. I thought Guinevere may be laying an egg, but then I saw her curled up into a ball in the corner of the coop.
I ran screaming upstairs and my husband retrieved her little golden body. I had feared that a predator had killed her, but it seems that she died of natural causes.
What were those causes? Did she have a stuck egg that we neglected to notice? Was she dehydrated? Did the smoke from the fires affect her breathing?
I keep playing over and over in my head the ways I could have altered what I did so that I would still have my sweet Guenny with me. I guess this is the bargaining stage of grief. I've known it before. It seems that grief opens up a well in me that never ends and with every new loss I mourn the dear ones I have lost before.
Today when I was able to bring myself to do so, I let the girls out of their coop and into our yard. For the first time today, just two sweet chicken butts tottled up the stairs.
I miss you, Guinevere. I am sorry if my negligence led in some small way to your early death. I will never forget you and the moments we shared.
Rest in peace.