RIP Pixel, the Proud Golden Comet
Abigail Black/Mindwatering 04/01/2019
It was a beautiful spring day, if a bit chilly, with sparse, wispy mare's tails and bright sunshine. A shower had occured the day before, so the ground was damp with dew and vibrant green things.

Amongst the vibrant greenery were dozens of fluffy yellow dandelions. My brother and I, on the way to free-range the chickens, stopped to pluck the heads. Our hands soon overflowed, so we employed the use of a small bucket.

The flock was ecstatic at the treat, for once everyone receiving a share of the bounty instead of the fastest few. My brother and I laughed as we watched, idly giving commentary to the playful havoc.

At least, until we saw only nine birds enjoying the feast.

We counted off twice, verifying a missing tenth, then divided the breeds. Three Barred Rocks, four New Hampshire Reds, and two Isa Browns. Our one Golden Comet, the vivacious Pixel, was not there.

My brother checked the nesting boxes inside the coop - empty. We found her at the edge of the run, in the sunlight. Pixel was on her side, wings tucked close, head bowed to her chest, and rigormortis had already set in. It was as if she had simply fallen over and not risen. She had been clucking with the rest of them mere hours beforehand.

Pixel was not the largest of the bunch as a chick, but she was a broiler/layer crossbreed, between a Red Rooster and a White Rock hen. Upon reaching maturity, she became the clear heavyweight champion, with a creamy yellow body with a red and golden neck. She could have easily thrown her weight about, but she was easygoing, friendly, and medium on the flock's pecking order. She sneezed "PWONK" and sang for everyone's eggs. The innermost toe on one foot was twisted 90 degrees, but only the humans noticed. As expected, she laid the largest eggs, pale brown with a smooth, unblemished surface, and good large yolks. We'd praise her, cuddle her, tell her what a good girl she was. Her favorite foods were dried grubs, chickweed, and dandelions.

The cause of her death is unknown, as only the other hens were with her. She exhibited no negative signs in the hours, days prior. At this time, we have gone with SCDS, Sudden Chicken Death Syndrome. Pixel had just turned one year and a few weeks old. She will be missed most dreadfully.

Pixel is now buried in the shade of the backyard, where the sunlight can filter through tree branches and play on her grave. We bundled her in wrapping paper, with a pillow of herbs, chickweed, and dandelion plants. She lays in fertile soil. We will sow a garden over her in dedication to her memory. May she be eternally happy in the place where animals go after death.