Now I have five hens and a very sick rooster.
People who only know animals as pets think my approach—treat the rooster as a friend, the rest as food—is brutal, inhuman. But things change fast in nature.
The rooster falls ill for no obvious reason, refuses to eat, and wastes to death.
This is how it goes.
Truth be told, the loss of the first bird, a little pullet I raised on her own (which meant lots of playtime for she and I), was crushing. She just wasn't there when I let the hens out in the morning, and even now, days later, I scan the edge of the forest for her racing little form, have an ear cocked all day long for her excited chirp.
And Winston, my rooster, is a devastation not just for me, but for Farmette. What is a flock without a rooster to manage and marshall it, to run when the hens call, to crow the dawn into day? To watch him waste is horrible, but to kill him is beyond me.
Winston is my admirable admiral. My right-hand bird. He has a job to do, and he does it. He's the most admired of the flock, because he's the handsomest and likeliest to last. Thus the rooster is the one the poultry keeper gives her affections to.
But nature doesn't care for affection. And though it's sad, the shortening days already hint at Autumn—a reminder that although things change, things end, there is always more to come.