They looked innocent
enough, like fuzzy giant skittles bouncing around the tub.
My friend had
purchased colored Easter chicks for her daughters and had assumed that I
would be thrilled to take them after Easter. Why not? We DO live in the
colored chicklets arrived at our place in a large cage. They were cute,
they were fluffy, they were hungry. They made endearing little noises when
we fed them. We loved our chickens..
Before long, they
had molted out of their Easter feathers and looked like real chickens.
They were turned loose to free range and be the cherry on our country yard
The coyote in the
woods also loved our chicks. In no time we were down to 8. Our only Rhode
Island Red in the bunch wandered into the dog pen and we were down to 7.
One started to terrorize the cats and went to live with a friend. One
chased our little boy and went to live with a neighbor. Five chickens- 4
White Leghorn roosters and (we thought) a big Barred Rock hen.
The Barred Rock
foraged into the goat pen and the Great Pyrenees decided she needed a
bath. By the time I got out there she was gasping and dripping with dog
drool. I turned her back into the yard, and she didn't join up with the
other chickens right away, she just stalked up and down, mumbling chicken
curses. From that point on, she couldn't/wouldn't roost up in the tree
with the others, but chose a low spot right next to the goat pen (go
figure) to sleep in. We rested a piece of sheet-metal against the fence to
make a chickentent.
About that time they
entered poultry puberty. The roosters crowed roughly every 5 minutes all
day long and most of the night. They started making little fighting runs
at each other and I worried that they would kill each other. That would be
bad, because we loved our chickens.
I needn't have
worried. Before too long they stopped quarreling amongst themselves and
turned all their energy on a common enemy - me, and by association, my
They were a Chicken
Gang. All they needed were little leather jackets, sunglasses, and packs
of Camels (filterless of course) rolled up into their wings. They'd stand
at the edge of the woods, daring the coyotes to come out.
They cruised the
neighborhood, lookin' for trouble, mean and restless. I now know
what the Raptors in the Jurrasic
Park movies are based on -
roosters. They have the same moves, calls and hunting tactics. They would
sneak up behind me to attack, barking strategy to each other. If I turned
around, they'd freeze and look off into the distance, casually.
I started carrying a
They recognized my
car and would come running at the sound of it.
I tucked the broom
under the car seat.
They would come onto
the porch and stare at me through the glass door, growling.
I was beginning to
dislike our chickens.
At first, my son just
carried a big stick when he played outside. Since the roosters outnumbered
him, after a while he only went out to play after they roosted in the
evening. He was becoming pale and a little twitchy.
Invitations to our
house became BYOB - Bring Your Own Broom.
It was time for the
roosters to go.
We tried to catch
them, but they were fast as greased lightning, very wary, and practiced
survivors, being the ones who outlived coyotefest.
I ran an ad in the
Thrifty Nickel that read: Free Roosters. White Leghorns, 7 months old.
Free Range. Mean as Snakes. You Catch.
The first 6 calls I
got were not for the chickens, but for the stove we were givingaway. (Read
the ad again). The 2 good ol' boys who attempted catching the roosters
went away empty-handed, the taunting of the roosters ringing in their
Nabbing them while
they were sleeping was difficult since they roosted way out on the limb of
an oak tree 20 feet in the air.
I hated our
I began trying to
run them down with the car as I drove into the yard. I could SEE them going under the car, but they always exploded out from behind,
missing tail feathers, and
screaming poultry death threats.
One of them actually
leaped up onto the hood of the car, glared at me through the windshield
and crowed defiantly.
I loathed our
At long last, the son
of a friend came after dark, perched atop the tallest stepladder we had,
and plucked them neatly from the oak tree.
The roosters were
back in the cage they had first come in. With the Fearsome
Foursome behind bars,
our "hen" started crowing. Lacy was really Larry. He has
been warned that he's
ridiculously easy to catch, living in a tent and all, so he'd better
behave or he will suffer the same fate.
Like the idiot I am,
now I pitied the chickens.
What to do with them?
The obvious answer-
Kill them and eat them, is still beyond my ability. I KNOW they are just
chickens, and we eat chicken all the time. I KNOW given weapons, opposable
thumbs, and a nice gas grill, they would have no problem killing and
eating us. I just couldn't do it. Still working on that part of farming...
We couldn't give them
away to lay siege to someone else’s yard.
We toyed with the
idea of driving far away, finding a nice wild wooded spot, and
setting them free. My
husband even started singing "Bock Bock Bock Born Free...", but we were
advised that they would have a bad environmental impact on the wilderness.
Finally, they went
into the stewpot at a friend's father-in-law's house, an ignoble
ending to what could
have been a glorious life.
I didn't mind the
constant crowing, the massive amounts of poop EVERYWHERE, the feathers. If
they just hadn't been aggressive, they could've lived long and free for
all of their chicken days.
I feel sad, because,
after all -
We loved our