Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Rest Easy, Big Guy

Andre Poulet, July 2020


Andre Poulet, our beloved rooster, died Monday morning. 

We noticed last week he wasn't crowing outside like he used to. AP always crowed profusely inside the coop as dawn broke, I usually heard him from our bedroom, but over the weekend, he'd crow once from his roost then not again. 

My husband noticed the rooster was thinner and I realized he was struggling to swallow. 

On Monday, Mother and I went to Halifax and when we were home again at the end of the day, sitting on the front deck catching up, Dwayne said Andre Poulet had spent the afternoon lying on the deck underneath the branch of the rose bush that stretches out and provides shade. 

I'm sorry I missed that. By the time we were home, he was underneath Mother's bird feeder, trying to eat and making a strange squeaking nose as he cleared his throat. As it turned out, Dwayne got to spend Andre's final day with him.  

Tuesday morning, I had to lift AP off his roost and carry him outside. I noticed he had that smell that chickens get when they are dying. I didn't realize he was hours away, rather than a day or two, though. When I got back from running errands, I'd planned to let him out to be in the yard for his final hours/days, but he was gone when I got back. 

The hens were alone with the body long enough to know their rooster was dead. 

I buried him in the field but near the outside pen; I thought he should be close by. After I dug the grave, I cut giant sunflower leaves to place in the bottom since I never put my chickens directly on the ground. Then I cut wildflowers, mostly goldenrod at this time of year, to cover him, and made a bouquet of brown-eyed Susans and clover and Queen Anne's Lace. 

As I was placing the flowers on his body in the grave, since I also never let the dirt fall directly on the creatures I bury, I heard a rustle inside the fence. One hen had shown up for the funeral, and it was Phyllis, who'd hatched out our one chick last summer. Watching Andre and Phyllis and Cheeps wander around the yard together was one of the pleasures of July 2020. 

I admit I cried as I said a few words for Andre Poulet. He was a good rooster, not mean, never attacking. He had a personality, as most chickens do, and I think he knew his name. I could get him to crow at me if I called out for him. He was always flying out of the pen to come check out the decks and under the bird feeders, and I'll miss walking across the yard with him. He was a bit of a dog that way. 

He was a very good rooster. Not sure how we will replace him. Some spurs are hard to fill...

This morning, after I'd let the hens out and filled their water dish out back, I walked around to the front of the coop to get their morning treat -- the grain scratch I toss on the ground -- and Dwayne was on the back deck. 

"Wild geese," he said, pointing to the sky behind me. 

I turned and looked up to see a small flock of six geese. Just as they flew over the pen and the spot where I buried Andre Poulet, five of the geese cut away to their left, flying over the coop itself, and one single goose kept flying ahead.

The missing man formation. The aerial salute done by jets during a fly-by to honour a fallen soldier. 

I kid you not. The gap between the five geese and the lone goose was very, very large. 

I might have been crying when I went inside to say good morning to Phyllis. 

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