The Miracle of Re-Birth

Good news: it’s been three weeks since the attempted murder of Rufna, and she continues to dwell among the living!


After loads of eye care, foot washing, antibiotics, food and vitamins, she has gained weight and is learning to find food and water by herself. Her remaining eye looks normal again but is still blind (I was hoping for a miracle), and the place of its former pair seems to have reached its majority in terms of healing–no eye, but no skin, either. Just a weird,  green spot surrounded by red skin that looks not unlike a tiny sun-dried tomato.

But that does not prevent her daily forays into the garden where she walks around with her head craned forward to “feel” where she’s going, and from exhibiting other persisting chicken qualities that seem to evidence a contented life.


I’m still surprised, and slightly in awe of this traumatized chicken who is satisfied to reside indefinitely on my studio porch. Shiny, happy chicken.

And so far, Velma the Rascally Whippet has not been the nuisance I was afraid she might be, but instead, a proud example of a bird-dog in defiance of her own natural instincts (save for one minor incident involving a tail feather. That was still attached to Rufina.). Perhaps Velma knows they are kindred spirits, she herself having survived a scary encounter with the Great Beyond earlier this year.


Thanks to everyone who has contributed free chicken advice, food, ER and vet consults, and even a couple of adorable, surprise chicks* (!) to keep Rufina company.


*Chicks will unfortunately be dispatched to some other venue because they are exploiting their sighted advantage: stealing food out of Rufina’s mouth, crowding the water dish, and mocking her by constantly blinking and sticking their tongues out.  Also, they are filthy little creatures that walk in their own poop and then jump on me.

And finally, what’s in a name? When it became clear that chicken might live, I thought I should name her, and Rufina was the first thing that popped into my head. A few days later, I googled it to see what came up. This is what I found on Wiki:

Saints Justa and Rufina (Ruffina) (Spanish: Santa Justa y Santa Rufina) are venerated as martyrs. They are said to have been martyred at Hispalis (Seville) during the 3rd century.

Their legend states that they were sisters and natives of Seville who made fine earthenware pottery for a living, with which they supported themselves and many of the city’s poor. Justa was born in 268 AD, Rufina in 270 AD, of a poor but pious Christian family. During a pagan festival, they refused to sell their wares for use in these celebrations. In anger, locals broke all of their dishes and pots. Justina and Rufina retaliated by smashing an image of Venus.

The city’s prefect, Diogenianus, ordered them to be imprisoned. Failing to convince them to renounce their faith, he had them tortured on the rack and with iron hooks. This method also having failed, they were imprisoned, where they suffered from hunger and thirst.

They were then asked to walk barefoot to the Sierra Morena; when this did not break their resolve, they were imprisoned without water or food. Justa died first. Her body, thrown into a well, was later recovered by the bishop Sabinus. Diogenianus believed that the death of Justa would break the resolve of Rufina. However, Rufina refused to renounce her faith and was thus thrown to the lions. The lion in the amphitheatre, however, refused to attack Rufina, remaining as docile as a house cat. Infuriated, Diogenianus had Rufina strangled or beheaded and her body burned. Her body was also recovered by Sabinus and buried alongside her sister in 287 AD.

Saint Rufina, by Velázquez. See the resemblance?? She's even carrying a giant feather!

Saint Rufina, by Velázquez. See the likeness?? She’s even carrying a giant feather!

Just another name? Perhaps. Or: a dark-haired Spaniard and a Italian-New Mexican, two Christian potters separated by centuries, a saint, a chicken, and an ordinary human united in an extraordinary coincidence of the undead.

33 thoughts on “The Miracle of Re-Birth

    • Perfect! Thanks for sharing this John, I’ve listened to it a couple times now and it’s definitely a good soundtrack for this story. I’m glad you replaced the only other song I’d thought of — Florence and the Machine’s “Girl With One Eye,” — Which is totally inappropriate except for the title!

      • 🙂 Haha. Well, your girl was never really a battery hen, but it’s so nice to see such a fighter find such a wonderful home. I’m in awe of your awesomeness!

    • Oh, Niya, you are very kind. Thanks 🙂 Great to see you here… I always think of you when I’m around animals, or sculpting them (attempting)!

  1. Rufina! Rufina!
    Hooray! Not going to let the man bring her down.

    Love this – just read the original post – loved that too. Is it bad that I sometimes sympathize with animals more than humans?

    • I don’t think that’s bad Mike, I mean, how could you not? They are so innocent and defenseless. Children are that way, of course, but grown humans …. that can be a tough one at times. Thanks for being in the cheering section for this one!

  2. Rufina channels the spirit of her patron saint. Thanks for posting the painting of St. Rufina with her feather pen. She brings hope to our blind world.
    By the way, your sister has found a happy new home for the baby chicks who are taking the food from her mouth.

  3. This is great! You forgot to mention the projectile pooping–also a sign of vigorous health. And, I found two takers for the chicks—either Sr. Joan Brown, who will add them to her North Valley menagerie of tail-less chickens and ducks, or Mary Jo Picca. Stay tuned.

    • wahoo! Shonda also said she’d take them… if we’d exhausted all other options. So, she’ll be relieved that she’s off the hook! Projectile pooping isn’t a visual I wanted included here, miss.

  4. So glad to hear that Rufina is doing well. Years ago, my beloved and elderly cat, Mariah, went blind, but she went on to happily live for another 4 and 1/2 years, occasionally bumping into things, but adapting quickly. Wish I was close enough to take those little chicks off your hands. Chicken roam all over parts of Tampa. 🙂

    P.S. I’ve missed you. Let’s catch up soon!

    • Hey CCLMSP (your names combined… who doesn’t love a meaningless acronym?!) Was on a lovely unplugged vacay, but now am back. Thanks for the Cheers in Rufina’s direction. I’m so proud of her, learning to be blind and turning back into a more or less normal chicken. (Like your kitty– how’d she go blind, anyway?) She is currently vacationing with a friend who has a few other hens, so we’ll see how she likes it there. Might be time to let her be 100% independent now (cue Born Free) to maximize her flocking-animal happiness 🙂
      Yeah, catch up! I’ve been an exceedingly lazy blogger for months, both reading and writing. I’ll hop over and see what you’re up to these days.

      • Mariah lost her sight due to undiagnosed high blood pressure – damn vet (whom we promptly fired since we’d brought her in just weeks earlier – before she lost her vision – and he failed to take her blood pressure though her symptoms were consistent with same). Fortunately, she managed to adapt pretty well, but the pain of knowing she couldn’t enjoy her life in the way she had for over 13 years still bothered me. A lot. However, I noticed that our other cats tended to give her space. Cinnamon was protective of her while our male cats were younger. Though Mariah couldn’t see them, I think they still sensed that she was their elder and to not fuck with her. Like yourself, I took some time off. We had to pack, move and unpack. I needed to focus on my other writing, so I’ve only posted a couple times in the past month, but I’m back. You’ll have to let me know when you’ve got an hour free and we’ll chat. You’re such a blast to talk with, my friend!

        • 🙂

          Sorry to hear Mariah’s issue was a result of vet incompetence… wow. That sucks. But, I really do believe that if animals don’t want to continue living in an “altered” way, they won’t. Thankfully, they also don’t tell themselves stories like we do, only making things worse, “Damn vet, my life is so different now… If only I could still see…. Why am I being punished… who can I sue??!” Living in the present, yeah.
          Can chat anytime — weekends more free these days than weeks. Glad you are settled into the new place with all your flying, blood-gorged friends.

Talk to me! I spend too much time alone in the studio.

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