Gentleman Farmer

at 12:35 AM

I sleepily made breakfast for the kids, hoping I could get them settled with the babysitter early so I could slip down to the café before work. My dreamy thoughts of a bagel and cappuccino were interrupted by the chime of an incoming text message.

It was our babysitter, who lives downstairs. A raccoon had attacked our chickens during the night. She and her roommate had fought off the raccoon, but not before it had killed two of our three chickens. She recommended not letting the children in the backyard until I cleaned up the mess.

The problem with being a gentleman farmer is sometimes real farm life intrudes. Until now, our chickens had been low maintenance pets, providing us with eggs and making our city backyard look pastoral. Changing the straw in their coop was as messy as it got. Now I was searching the house for a cardboard box that would make a good coffin.

Outside, it was all feathers and death. I picked up a chicken that yesterday had been a beloved family pet and placed her eviscerated hull in the cardboard box.

Then I walked over to the other chicken and reached down.

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“Please God,” I thought, “let that be the wind ruffling her feathers.”

It wasn’t. Henrietta was still breathing. The raccoon had blinded and maimed her, but hadn’t killed her. I felt sick as I thought of her lying in the dirt for the last six hours, alone and dying.

I went to the shed and retrieved a hatchet and a block of wood. I carefully placed Henrietta’s head on the block, took a solid stance, and swung.

I’d like to say I killed her cleanly and put an end to her suffering. I didn’t. This was my pet, and I didn’t have the heart for this task. It took me five swings to kill her. Then with the last of her life Henrietta chased me around the yard, wings flapping. I was spooked by this grisly race, but relieved she was finally dead.

I turned away then, and dug some graves.

I actually did make it to the café that day. But not until after the funerals, of course.

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With a Perspective, I’m Evan Sagerman.

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