RIP Chatty Kathy, our Loud and Proud Isa Brown
Abigail Black/Mindwatering 08/11/2019
At roughly 8:20 PM Saturday, August 10, the hens were rowdy yet content, having just returned from an evening romp in the yard. As customary, they idly pecked at the free choice food dispenser or dispersed to a quiet place to preen. As it was getting dark, I bid the chickens a good night and closed the doors securely.

This morn, I was outside shortly after the clock struck 9:00 AM. I had the morning itinerary all set up in my head as I traipsed down to the coop. My brother had decided to join me, and had run ahead to greet the hens. I was contemplating the idea of a morning free range, as the day was cloudless yet mild, as I unlocked the coop doors and refilled the food dispenser. My brother remarked that Chatty must be in the nest box, as she was not amongst the others greeting us. After I put back the food dispenser, I returned to the coop to look through the screen at the nest boxes.

A brown form laid on the roost board, just at chest level. I had seen such a motionless mass before, and knew immediately but wished I didn't. My brother exclaimed in dismay as I reached in and recovered Chatty's cold body.

She was stiff, but her neck floppy. Her wings were half extended. After a moment of examination, I concluded that she must have fallen off the top roost bar sometime in the night, tried to catch herself, and broke her neck on the bottom bar. She had laid there, all alone.

The other eight hens were loud, as if calling to each other "Where is Chatty?" Or to us, "Why isn't Chatty with us?" They crammed against the back wall of the run to watch my brother and I carry Chatty into the backyard, dig a grave next to Pixel's, and lay her to rest amongst a bed of lavender flowers, rosemary, oregano, dandelions, and fern leaves.

Chatty was a darling of the flock. She earned her name by never being shy, always squawking and bawking all the live long day. Whenever she was quiet, we knew something was amiss, and tended to her until she was lively and loud once more. She loved dried grubs but dismissed sunflower seeds. More often than not, when free ranging time came around, she would hang by my brother and follow him everywhere, talking all the while. She was extremely docile, and liked to be held, chirping quietly. She was almost always first in line when my mother came with a bowl of treats. Chatty was in the upper echelon of the order, yet never pecked at her flock-mates. When she drank, she plunged her entire face into the water and wondered why she was wet when she emerged; her neck feathers were almost never dry.

I hope she had not suffered any pain when she fell. It was a terrible, saddening accident, and the morning of August 11th will never be forgotten. I like to imagine her with Pixel, grazing the green fields of heaven. She will always have a special place in our hearts. May she rest in peace.