I am thrilled to bring you a guest post today by Kim Wilson. Kim is a great writer who works with college students and encourages people to achieve things they never thought possible. In her free time, she runs marathons, eats sushi, enjoys CrossFit, takes pictures, and tries new things. She also is an undertaker of chickens. All of this makes me feel slightly exhausted. Read on, then go visit her at her own blog, New Life Cal U.
Taking care of animals is not my forte, nor does it make my Top 100 list of favorite things to do. Growing up, we had a cat and a dog, but they were not my responsibility. I don’t despise animals, but you won’t find me beckoning a dog to come lick my face or begging to go to a petting zoo.
Occasionally, my parents call upon me to tend to their chickens while they’re gone. Five days this time. I told myself that five days weren’t bad at all. Besides, my almost-seven and eight-year-old nephews would be there for the last three days, and they love the chickens. Every time they’re at the house, they beg to go play with the chickens. That’s one thing I’ll never understand.
Pleased that I had paid my two days of dues without a hitch, I smirked and thought, “I’m scot-free.”
Since my parents recently bought chicks that the boys hadn’t seen yet, I sauntered up to the coop to watch their delight in playing with the new additions.
When the oldest entered, he sullenly said, “Aw, one of the chickens died. I hope it wasn’t Rosie.”
“Really? Where?” I didn’t want to believe it. He pointed to two scrawny legs protruding from beneath the hen house. In my head I said the same words he did, but they didn’t have the same sad-for-the-chicken ring to them.
The scene reminded me of the demise of the Wicked Witch of the West. Only that was better because she just disappeared.
“I’ve got to call someone to find out what I need to do,” I said as I exited the coop.
Without even looking up from chasing the chickens, the oldest matter-of-factly said, “You just bury it.”
Just bury it. Great. An 8-year-old is giving me advice.
Since I didn’t have time to find an online tutorial or summon help, I decided to wing it. It can’t be that hard.
With the hole dug in another part of the yard, I went to retrieve the unfortunate winged creature. Standing as far back as possible, I prodded the chicken with the shovel. That whole “running around like a chicken with its head cut off” thing had me a little leery of a momentary resurrection. The apprehension may also be tied to a premonition that developed when I had to deliver flowers casket-side, fearing the man would sit up in his casket and grab my arm.
Then, I noticed the flies swarming around the hole in its chest cavity. A pretty sure sign it’s really dead.
Tediously wriggling the shovel beneath the chicken did nothing, except to create a chorus of clanking claws.
Before I could object, my nephew grabbed the legs and started to drag it. “Nooo! Don’t touch it!” I was mortified. Unfazed, he let go and hovered uncomfortably close to that awful-smelling bird as I finally coaxed it onto the shovel with a stick.
I began to wonder why the chicken died, but my curiosity didn’t inspire an autopsy. In case my parents asked questions about the particular chicken, I snapped pictures with my phone before laying it to rest. Stamping down the loose dirt on the burial spot, I breathed a sigh of relief.
Only to find out a couple days later I didn’t dig it deep enough.
What experiences with dead animals have you had?