My favorite chicken is dead!

Stories from the farm.
June 4 2007 4:28 PM

Henrietta Is Dead

Saying goodbye to my aggressive, curious, sociable, baffling chicken.

Henrietta. Click image to expand.

A few months ago, I wrote about Henrietta, my curious, aggressive, sociable hen. When I drove the tractor to the road in front of the house today, I found her dead body. I've had a farm long enough to know that you don't cry for a chicken, but Henrietta was an unusual hen. She terrorized my border collie Rose and loved to sit for hours on the backs of my steer Elvis, the donkeys, and sometimes even the sheep. She cleaned their coats of dirt, bugs, and ticks.


She was brazen for a hen, going where she pleased, crisscrossing the road, hopping up on posts and staring you in the eyes. This roaming was Henrietta's undoing. We planted grass seed, which Henrietta loved to eat, by the barns across the street. Many people come speeding down this country road, and she was clearly hit by a car, right by the fence in front of the house. The other chickens are warier and rarely go in the road.

Annie, my farm goddess, will be sad, as she had tended to Henrietta when she was a chick and kept her in the milkhouse for six months in protective custody until I set her free. Henrietta loved donuts, corn kernels, and cat food. She was a hen of distinction. I will miss her. I'm angry at the heedless drivers who come barreling by my farm at high speeds, but then again, she had no business being in the road. Her father, Winston the rooster, is crowing a lot, perhaps calling to her. He is also eating her corn.  

I put her in a bag and took her out to the woods and left her body there for the animals to eat. I just said, "Thanks, Henrietta, for all the eggs."

Jon Katz’s latest book, Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die, was published by Random House last October. You can visit him at and or email him at



Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 7:03 PM Once Again, a Climate Policy Hearing Descends Into Absurdity
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 7:23 PM MIT Researchers Are Using Smartphones to Interact With Other Screens
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.