I Throw in My Ranching Gloves

Faulty gate latches and my own blind excitement about a road trip led to the pathway to destruction for five of my beloved chickens.
Four hens and the most beautiful little rooster I’ve ever loved, gone to the unmerciful jaws of two bored dogs who wanted to play keep-away with live bait.
Two beautiful, no-evidence-obvious-but-still-they-were-dead corpses greeted my dusky return from the road, after we Okies toured the state’s northeast Green Country.
I tell you, while the sun said goodnight, my heart cracked in half.
No other signs of life came running from corners to rest for the night. How could I blame them if they were there? I’d stay there, too, wherever that may have been.
This morning, I went to cluck with my girls. The rooster was silent; he lost all of his tail feathers and any vestige of pride while I warrior-ed the road yesterday.
And there, in front of the gate, was one of the girls I thought I’d lost.
Mangled, weary, but bright-eyed and quiet.
I bawled like a four-year-old, then retrieved the Neosporin and coated her wounds.
She’s in the coop now, in the shade, near water and food and the rest of her tribe, who still can’t cluck their condolences. It really is every bird for herself. And I can’t blame them for that, either.
But for the last hour, I’ve had my eye on every hidey-hole in the yard, armed with bandages and tears in case another feathery friend wants to trust me again.

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