In Greek mythology a phoenix is a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn.
As I held a small, almost dead hen in a pillowcase on my lap in the car, I could barely feel her breathing. I didn’t know if she’d make the trip home, let alone the next day, the next week or year. She was found in a cage at a battery egg farm. She was found trapped under the dead body of her friend. They had both got trapped in the small opening of the cage where the eggs roll through into the collection trays.
Both hens would have been trapped for perhaps anywhere up to one week. Hens in battery egg farms are keep in tiny cages with 4-6 hens trapped together. They only have a slopped wire floor to stand on, can barely move, cannot dust bathe, cannot scratch and forage, cannot walk, cannot run, cannot stretch their wings, cannot lay their eggs in private, cannot see the sky, cannot feel the earth and cannot do anything that you and I take for granted. The are inprisoned for life because they are hens and can produce eggs for us. Phoenix was lucky. She wasn’t helped out of that cage by the farmer who runs the sheds of 150,000 trapped hens and makes money out of their eggs, she was saved by brave and selfless rescuers who just knew they needed to get her out. As I held her on that long trip home, i decided to name her “Pheonix” in the hope she could rise from the ashes of her past.
Surprisingly, Phoenix survived the trip home and received immediate medical treatment from her new carer. Phoenix was barely conscious, paralysed and barely breathing. Without being able to eat and drink for many days, her body had nearly given up. Being squashed underneath her friend for countless days had also had a profound effect on her weak body.
Phoenix smelt like death having been trapped under a dead chicken for so long.
She was paralysed and in a great deal of pain. She couldn’t drink or eat for herself. As she was held and cared for that first night she was told how she was loved and how she would fight to live and breathe in the fresh air and be free to be a chicken when she got better. She was told how she could come and live with me and Baldy, Boudica, Casper, Super Chicken and the rest of the flock in the country. She was loved and held and she found joy in the warmth from the heater where she stretched out her wings and purred. She took her first steps and explored the garden and saw the sky. She purred when she was stroked.That first week she was getting better and we expected her to be fully recovered in roughly a months time.
Phoenix took a turn for the worst two and a half weeks after her rescue. Her little body had been so taxed by her past that she just couldn’t make it. She died purring with her head in her carer’s hand. In the last two and a half weeks of her life she experienced as much love and care any chicken has ever had. She had around the clock care and around the clock love. She is buried under her carer’s window, who misses her greatly.
Phoenix was an individual treated like nothing, not just by one farmer, but by a society of human beings. We have condemned each and every beautiful, special little hen to lives of hell just like this. We see them as a commodity and as property when they are all unique souls with their own lives and wishes and hopes. I wish I could say that Phoenix’s story was one of a kind and never to be repeated, but this happens to chickens in battery egg farms all over the world. They are trapped forever until we all stop demanding to buy eggs. An egg is not worth the lives of billions and billions of beautiful hens.
Phoenix rose from the ashes of her past for two and a half weeks after a lifetime of hell. She saw more than most battery hens ever get to see and even though she struggled to walk, she walked further than most battery hens ever get to walk. Fly free sweet Phoenix. You wont be forgotten.
Please don’t use my images without permission. All images are Copyright Tamara Kenneally