Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gimli is Gone...

How could I let nearly a year go by without posting? Silly question. Years just slip by, they fall away like leaves from the trees in autumn.

This entry is dedicated to Gimli the rooster. If you are not familiar with him, posts from the past will enlighten if you are interested. I'm not going to go into detail of his life as this story is mainly about his death. When his mate Brighty passed away over two years ago, he seemed to be ok with it. He was a good father to their nine half grown chicks, choosing friends and making a few enemies among the cockerels.

The photo below shows a few of the new generation and Gimli standing next to Brighty very near the end of her long life. She wasn't well. He sensed this and stayed by her side, even bowing his head to let her know he was there.

As the youngsters matured, some major fights broke out as Gimli was challenged for supreme ruler of the roost.

Gimli gave in. He decided to banish himself from the flock by night by refusing to enter the coop, choosing instead to roost in the outer covered area up in what I called 'Obama Corner' for obvious reasons. (hey, I used what I had on hand to block the wind and rain).

This worked out great til the winter set in and I began grabbing Gimli from his perch, carrying him in to the barn to a separate area, placing him on top of a bale of hay each night. After a while, I didn't have to 'grab' him anymore to keep him from escaping my arms, I would simply place my goved hands near his feet and he would step on and move to my forearm and just 'ride' to the barn without the slightest alarm. I actually think he enjoyed it as I would always give him a treat once he settled in for the night.

Northern Michigan winters are hard on chickens, but we made it through this one with no frozen toes, combs or wattles. Spring seemed to arrive early with the first day of March. Temperatures of 60 degrees and higher coaxed the flock outside of their pen to enjoy dust baths in the sun, and bare, unfrozen ground to peck and scratch.

Photo: Gimli off to the left, butt to the camera with two long curled tail-feathers. This photo was taken just two days before he died.

All was well and good until an up-and-coming younger roo began to roost out in Gimli's Obama Corner. At first, I thought they might have become friends and tried to put Gimli up there with him. Nope, not the case. I had to hunt for Gimli at night (he was never very hard to find) and bring him in to the barn leaving the new guy to fend for himself if a predator came around in the night.

The 15th of March was a gorgeous sunny day and the chickens were all out and about doing their thing when Jack our dog suddenly acted like he needed to go outside. I let him out the back slider door and he went straight to a feathered heap on the ground, stopped and sniffed at it. I ran outside to find it was dear Gimli. He looked as if he was just strolling along and fell race first into the dirt. I picked him up, he was still a bit warm, but his feet were cold and he was just not there anymore. He had no wounds, no feathers were missing, no sign of a struggle and the others were quiet. If there had been a predator such as a hawk, they all would be sounding alarm. He just up and died, I guess. Or perhaps he simply decided it was time to go.

I placed him on a snow drift with the plan to bury him later in the day. As the sun began to set, I took Gimli out into the woods behind our house looking for the perfect resting place. I had decided not to bury him after all and just let nature take it's course. Finding a large tree fallen and uprooted, I placed him down where the roots had been which had made an opening like a small cave and walked back toward the house.

It was late enough now that all the others had gone inside for the night (even the guy that stole Gimli's roost, abandoned it that night). All at once they were making noise as if a predator was in the coop. I rushed in to find nothing was after them but they continued to squawk and holler.
I decided it was a send-off to their father (and grandfather), a chorus of farewell and safe passage. I told them all goodnight and made a quick check of the nest boxes, even though it had been several months since any eggs had been layed. There in one box was the first egg of 2010. True story.

Portrait of Gimli and Brighty by artist Mary Jill...



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara: A fine tribute to Gimli. He definitely lives on with your shared memories, AND with the new, shiny egg! As ever, Cathy

Tue Mar 23, 11:47:00 AM 2010  
Anonymous pegsboards said...

Oh Sara........sniff. Love, Peg

Tue Apr 13, 10:24:00 AM 2010  

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