I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. ~ Thoreau

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Helga, my sweet

You all are familiar with Helga and her story of triumph against the odds, her lovability and quirky personality, her stint living in our bathroom, her charming attempts to become a house chicken and her inability to keep a secret. It is with a heavy and broken heart that I come to tell you, Helga is no more.

My precious, sweet, charming little weirdo was killed by a hawk Tuesday afternoon, in broad daylight, while she ate in the yard. I am bereft. She cheated death so often I am sure she cherished her time as borrowed but still I mourn.

Helga was a chicken like no other. Rescued with Momma, the two of them were the last of my aunt’s formerly large flock. The only two to survive a malicious dog attack, my aunt could not stand to leave them as fodder so she brought them to join my flock. Helga was barely grown but obviously possessing of a massive dose of personality. She loved people. If you were in the yard you must obviously have come to see her. She would follow you around clucking and talking, if you bent down to pet her she would hold her wings out and chortle. If you stood still long enough without paying attention to her she would try to leap into your arms.

After her reintroduction to the flock she would come to the back door and peck on the glass for attention. She’d stand on the porch railing to eat from the wild-bird feeder and she loved to lay eggs in the middle of my oregano pot. She was as unique and charming of a chicken as you could ever hope to encounter. Adorable and quirky with a large red comb and waddle and beautiful red blond feathers trimmed in black. She grew into a magnificent bird despite her scarred head which she wore without discomfit.

She loved treats, raisins, oats, biscuits but especially French fries. When grandma would send her twice weekly bag of chicken treats Helga would grab as many French fries as she could and would then charge about the yard maniacally, swallowing them whole, while trying to escape her sisters snatching beaks.

She was lovely and charming and I miss her terribly. It is horrible to walk to the coop in the mornings and not see her silly little head bobbing to greet me. I am so distressed to think she died scared and in pain. It breaks my heart because she was such a sweet creature without malice. Chickens can be peckish and grouchy and can be especially hateful with each other but Helga never was. She had a Rastafarian countenance that allowed her to roll with the punches never seeming to take a slight to heart. She never even held her almost-scalping against Momma, instead cuddling right back up to her as soon as she rejoined the flock.

I will miss her so very very much. I know people think it is silly to be so attached to a chicken. Thousands of them die every day in horrible slaughter house factory conditions but this is yet another reason I scorn and deride our modern day food system. It is so easy to walk into a restaurant and order that chicken sandwich and never make the connection that it was once a living breathing thing with feelings and emotions. People will tell you that chickens are stupid and dirty but this is what they tell themselves to make it ok to leave these animals in a world of pain and cruelty.

I tell you, they are not. They are neither stupid nor dirty, if properly cared for, they are not without feeling but are instead clever little charmers. I am not saying you cannot eat them, you are a creature of free will and can make your choices. Most humans eat animals it is the way of our world. What I am saying is that you have a responsibility to the animals you consume to ensure them a healthy and cruelty free life. If you believe you have no responsibility to the animals then I say to you: YOU HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO YOURSELF. Your body is comprised of the things you eat, if you consume fear and pain and suffering these things will manifest in your life.

I know everyone will not raise the food they eat and some people like us will only raise chickens as pets with benefits, we do not eat our flock I do not eat chickens at all, but everyone can say no to the corporate farming greed that has so poisoned us today. Even a small step will help. You do not have to eschew fast food forever but think before you order. Choose it less. Choose somewhere local that locally sources their free range meat. Say no to the fast food even one time a week when you would have said yes.

Fred and I are not perfect. We still occasionally eat fast food. What I am suggesting is that we can all be more mindful. I loved Helga, she was a beautiful piece of God’s creation so how can I then deny that all the animals churned through our corporate food sources have the same value she had? They do. Ignoring them or pretending they do not exist does not lessen their suffering.

Dear Helga, I love you. I hope your short little charming life will be a lesson in humanity that never leaves me and I hope through this blog you may live on to teach others that kindness and forgiveness are quality to which we should all aspire. I hope heaven has a big farm and you have all the treats your little heart could desire.

Peace, love and sadness,