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A Tribute to Miss Juanita Chickie

We said goodbye this week to one of our colleagues. Miss Juanita Chickie was a nine-year old Araucana chicken, and a fine host indeed for our education programs.


She was raised by young Adam, who carried her pretty much continuously when she was a spring chicken. Thanks to his attentiveness and care, Miss Juanita was by far and away our most amenable chicken to handling. Nary a squawk if a first-time chicken holder would lift her from the ground.


Consequently, thousands of children (and quite possibly hundreds of adults) had their first up close and personal experience of a chicken with Miss Juanita. Her feathers were petted, her feet were stroked, her comb was touched; we even flipped her upside down to see her cloaca (the portal for both excretion and egg laying, aka “chicken butt”). She travelled as an ambassador, too: to teach about Heifer International at an elementary school in Beloit, to community gatherings in Rockford, and to Farmer’s Markets where she helped youth (successfully) lure people to their sales tables.


Miss Juanita died this week. We buried her at the edge of our savanna, near the beehive and the old oaks. As we filled in the hole, starlings began streaming through the sky. A river of a hundred thousand birds gathered and wove, diving through the air, lifting over the space where she laid to rest. Some paused, perched in an amphitheater of trees around the site, raucously calling, before rising to join the current. This whirling keening continued for nearly a half hour, as these wild birds of the farm gave tribute to one lovely lady.

Miss Juanita ChickieMiss Juanita Chickie