A sad start to the day here. I let the girls out to free range, and six eager beaks started snaffling the lawn. I assumed that Hilda and Purdy were laying. I was right about Hilda, but sadly I found Purdy dead between the roosting bars. With a heavy heart, I extracted her from her uncomfortable resting place. A brief examination proved that she was without injury, and she had shown absolutely no sign of illness. I take comfort from the fact that her end was swift and apparently pain free.
She must have died during the night. The rest of the flock were extremely noisy this morning, but I put it down to spring feistiness. I now suspect that they were trying to tell me something. As I cleared the coop, Maeve stood in the pop hole watching me intently. I doubt that chickens can really comprehend their own mortality, and certainly the heartless harridans must have walked over their deceased flockmate to exit the coop for breakfast this morning. But her body was unmolested by inquisitive pecking, and no one had pooed on her. That just about adds up to respect as far as chicken loyalties go.
Farewell, Purdy Pants. I hope that your year with us was a happy one.