Coming Home

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On Sunday, a new hen arrived and my world changed again.  I am swimming languidly, luxuriously, in the warm sea of new love.  I can’t get her off of my mind, and I don’t want to.  I revel in her intelligent, sensitive gaze… her vibrance… her spunk.  Oh yes, Enid is the chicken of my dreams and I am beyond thrilled to have her here at the sanctuary with us.

Enid and I met once before, briefly, in September 2012, just over a year ago.  It was just after she and 249 of her flock-mates fell off of a moving truck headed to the slaughterhouse.  She was dazed and frightened and I doubt very much that she remembers me.  I however, remember her well.  I was deeply moved by the incredible web of karma that brought Enid and her flock to that moment in time.  They had been forced to spend the first six weeks of their lives in a love-deprived, drug-filled haze in a dark, dirty warehouse, only to fall off of a moving truck just in time to escape meeting an incredibly painful and frightening end. Then they found themselves surrounded by well-meaning people, who coddled the little birds as the precious beings they are.

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Enid was lucky enough to be adopted by a big-hearted couple, Jen and John.   Jen and John understood the sensitive and intelligent nature of chickens.  They took beautiful care of Enid and her sisters, Billina and Octavia.

However, chickens that are bred for meat (technically “Jumbo Cornish Crossbreeds” but usually referred to as “broilers”), don’t live very long.  They are bred to be large enough for “processing” at only 6 weeks old.  According to the University of Arkansas, if humans grew at a similar rate, a 6.6-pound newborn baby would weigh 660 pounds after two months (source: Chickens Used for Food).  You can just imagine all the health issues that come with such rapid growth and unnatural size.

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Sadly, Billina’s time on earth came to an end in August, and Octavia crossed over this past Saturday.  Enid lost her two sisters just a few months apart and she was devastated.  From years of time spent living with and observing chickens, I can tell you that they are incredibly intelligent and sensitive beings.  They develop deep bonds, show great care and compassion, and they grieve over the loss of loved ones in the same way that we do.  Enid cried audibly, refused food, and spent the rest of Saturday and most of Sunday in her hen-house alone, mourning her sisters.

Enid cuddles with Octavia
Enid cuddles with Octavia – photo by Jen Washicosky

Enid’s adoptive human family, although they loved her deeply, knew the best thing for her would be to live with other chickens, and so they brought her to Indraloka Sunday evening.  Enid was not the first of the chickens from this accident that made their way back to Indraloka, after having been adopted by others but that is another story for another day.

Today is Enid’s day.

Sherman, one of our lovely roosters, fell immediately in love and entertained Enid by prancing proudly back and forth in front of her as he cooed and explained where all the yummy food is to be found.  Enid watch in calm amusement.

Then Thelma and Louise, the turkeys, approached.  Thelma took umbrage that another female had entered her territory and, fluffing up her feathers, began to make intimidating noises.  Enid never cowered, never shrank away, and never got angry.  She simply stood herself up to her whole height and looked Thelma in the eye.  Thelma backed right down and the three are now fast friends.

Next Sheba, our pea hen, approached.  Sheba is quite certain that she is Queen of Indraloka, and never hesitates to assert her authority over the other birds.  Interestingly, Enid was already standing at her full height, with great dignity, by the time Sheba arrived to greet her.  They looked one another in the eye, completely silent, for a full 90 seconds before Sheba pivoted on her elegant left foot and glided away.

Sheba, Queen of Indraloka
Sheba, Queen of Indraloka

Late that night, I saw a different side of Enid.

Amidst the snoring of pigs, as the ducks and geese slept with their heads tucked primly under their wings, and as all the other chickens cooed in dreamland, Enid let her guard down.  She was breathing heavily and her comb was very pale.  It was plain that her heart had already become quite weak.  I stroked her soft feathers and said, “I’m going to take care of you.  I know you don’t feel well, and I know you’ve just lost your family.  But you’re here now, and I promise you I’ll be here for you every day of your life.”

The look she gave me was merciful and tender as she said with her eyes, “I won’t be here much longer, my dear.  I’ve simply come home to die.”  We sat in the sleep-filled barn, the light of the full moon streaming through the window and my hand resting on her back.  Together, we cried at the beauty of autumn and the brief, sacred journey of life.

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16 thoughts on “Coming Home

    Bren McClain said:
    October 22, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    You write of love and animals too beautiful for words. Precious Enid. Precious you.

    Like

    Becky said:
    October 22, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    You are truly an Earth Angel. I live in Mexico, and don’t see many of those around here. Thank you, you blessed soul, for all that you do for animals. My husband and I rescue dogs and cats here, and I know from experience, the emotion and feelings that all animals possess…and the intense emotion we feel when we lose one of our precious ones. Bless you for all your loving work.

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      indralokaanimalsanctuary said:
      October 22, 2013 at 6:50 pm

      Becky, so kind of you to say, and we are all earth angels, aren’t we? As long as we act with love to better the world in some way (as you and your husband are doing with your rescue work), as long as we live our Truth and seek kindness above all, then we are all living angels. I read a quote from Sogyal Rinpoche just this morning, “To embody the transcendent is why we are here.” And what is more transcendent than love?

      Like

    Sheila Cutler said:
    October 22, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Ok, now that I am on the floor in tears someone has to help me up. Indra, they don’t come better than you. G-d bless you.

    Like

    Deb Bednar said:
    October 22, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    Just a beautiful heartwarming story about Enid, I cannot wait to meet her tomorrow . She has truly come to the place she needs to be right now.

    Like

    Paula said:
    October 23, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    The sensitivity and beauty of your posts never fail to bring tears to my eyes. Thank you for the kindness and love you bring into the world.

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      indralokaanimalsanctuary said:
      October 23, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      Thank you, Paula, for your kindness and your support. It never fails to humble me that, when I bare my soul with these posts, I am met with so much love and support! The world is truly a beautiful place.

      Like

    Deborah Caudell said:
    October 23, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    I know I’ve said this before, but the beauty in your writing never fails to leave me feeling the peace, love, beauty and tranquility of what you and Indraloka signify. Thank you.

    Like

      indralokaanimalsanctuary said:
      October 23, 2013 at 3:24 pm

      Thank you so much Deb, Indraloka would not be the heaven on earth it is were it not for all of the volunteers and animals who work together to make it so.

      Like

    Debra Picard said:
    October 29, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    What a BEAUTIFUL story…I know that chickens have great personality’s, I had 5 I also rescued ..never had chickens in my life but there was no way I was going to trust anyone else with them…I felt GOD brought them to me to hold and love while on this earth…and that’s exactly what I did. I loved my sweet birds every day of their lives!

    Like

    pam said:
    December 19, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    I stumbled on to your website today and am just awed at the way you bring the animals to light! I stopped eating meat 14 days ago and have been struggling a little bit to find food other than beans and rice. THANK you so much for wrtinging these stories. They’ve made me stronger than ever to maintain my new lifestyle 🙂 I never knew chickens bonded or did anything other than cluck about aimlessly. Please continue your stories – you truly have a gift for sharing how we are all God’s creatures 🙂

    Like

      indralokaanimalsanctuary said:
      December 19, 2013 at 7:44 pm

      Dear Pam, thank you so much for your kind words, and even more so for giving up meat. I know it is a tough transition, yet you can rest in the knowledge that you are reducing the suffering of countless animals, taking better care of your health, and contributing to a healthier planet. There are terrific resources available to support you, including vegrecipes.org, vegancooking.com, and vegan chef.com. Or visit perm.org or cok.org, both of which offer online support groups, tools, resources, shopping guides, recipes, and more.

      Like

    Laurie DeMark said:
    May 15, 2014 at 2:02 am

    beautiful. after rescuing chickens over 1 year ago, I certainly can relate to the joy of their personalities, as well as their intelligence. I am so very glad that these girls knew love. xo THANK YOU – from the bottom of my heart. ♥

    Like

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