And there’s a reason for that.
She’s a farm girl, born and raised on a dairy farm in rural Idaho. Growing up, days were filled with tending cows, goats, chickens, and children. Now that mom has her own family but no real farm, she still hasn’t lost her love for the animals she grew up with, particularly chickens.
But not to eat. No way! Mom would probably rather chop off her own hand than to kill and eat one of her own chickens. They’re like her children! (Only they cause her less stress, haha). Heaven forbid the days when the circle of life comes full circle (no pun intended) and one of her chickens gets eaten by a dog or killed while crossing the road (not a joke, it really happens)—mom’s been known to cry for hours in said circumstance.
That’s why we were so reluctant recently to tell her that one of her chickens bit the dust. (Actually, a dog bit it). Here’s the story:
Recently mom made her own day when she purchased a group of four chickens. They’re lovely, spotted, motherly hens who like to do normal chicken things like peck in the dirt and lay eggs. That is, all but one. One of them, a lovely solid white hen, is a little bit renegade. Whereas all the other chickens spend their days strolling around the backyard eating bugs and gossiping, the now infamous White Chicken (capitalized on purpose) chooses to spend hers off all alone playing her own version of “Call of Duty: Black Ops.” She is often found sneaking into the house via the pet door, whereupon she scales the kitchen bar stools marine-style, poses like a ceramic statue when someone walks by, and successfully steals food or water from whatever is being prepared or has been left on the kitchen counter. When we catch her in the act she just cocks her neck and stares up at us like she’s just woken up from sleep walking, innocent-like, “but what do you mean? How did I even get in here?”
Guys, she’s crazy!
On the morning of the fourth of July I awoke around 7 am to see my little sister walking down the street in her pajamas.
“Jorj, what are you doing?” I called out to her.
“I thought I saw mom’s white chicken walking down the street (in front of the house).”
“Oh, did you find her?”
“Okay, well come back in.”
It was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining, the house was full of family and the day full of promise. To pass the morning until everyone else woke up we grabbed the nail polish box and headed outside, our baby nephew and another sister in tow, to spend a leisurely couple of hours talking, laughing, and painting nails on the swing in the backyard.
Our quality time was suddenly interrupted by an unwelcome sound. A neighbors dog, suddenly barking uncontrollably from the yard behind our tall wooden privacy fence, was obviously getting extremely agitated by something in his yard. Then, in a cacophonous duet of sounds, a screaming chicken joined him, waking up the rest of the neighborhood I’m sure. Us sisters suddenly all looked at each other. In unison we said, “oh no! Mom’s White Chicken!!!” One sister ran to the fence and tried to peer through the slats. Suddenly, the noise all stopped. She turned back towards us and confirmed—the neighbors dog had enjoyed an Independence Day chicken BBQ. We spent a few moments in mournful silence before someone voiced what we were all thinking—“how are we going to tell mom?”
Fortunately, I had an answer. Having just watched “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” for family movie night the night before, re-penned lyrics came quickly to my mind. We rehearsed together, then when she came outside we broke then news to her in song:
“There’s one more chicken in heaven,
There’s one less here in our yard,
Mother it’s quite tough to tell you,
We know that you’ll take the news hard.
She went out for a wander this mornin’
We weren’t quite sure where she went
Until we heard a rather big commotion
There on the other side of the fence.”
Gratefully, whether it was because her euphoria at having all her kids home tempered her grief or because she appreciated our song so much, mum actually took the news quite well. But the story doesn’t end there.
The next day, Sunday, as we were all getting ready for Church and the front door was open to let everyone come and go to the car as they forgot their scriptures/shoes/lip gloss/mascara/tie/cheerio snacks, etc, who would come walking through the front door except The White Chicken!
But with no tail feathers!!!
We all stood in shocked amazement as The White Chicken casually strolled through the front door as if nothing on earth were more natural than her resurrecting from the dead, tail-feather-less, on a sunny summer Sabbath morning. We slowly picked our jaws up off the floor as she made her way through the front hallway and kitchen to the back door, where she resumed regular chicken activity.
Guys. Guys! This is not a made up story! The White Chicken, who has since been renamed Dundee, after “Crocodile Dundee” and her penchant for going “on walkabout,” is certifiably crazy. She has been known to climb on top of my mother and sit on her shoulder (like a parrot). She visits neighbors and surreptitiously breaks-and-enters their backyards, for her own pleasure. She was recently incarcerated for a two-week stint in a neighbor’s hen-house because he found her wandering in his yard and didn’t know where she came from. Boy was she happy to be rescued by mom, who “just happened” to be over at said neighbor’s house for a visit one evening.
As I was talking to my mom on Skype this afternoon, she informed me that she now has five new chickens, and they’re working through some segregation issues. All I can say is, may none of them be like The White Chicken, but may they all have seven lives the next time they’re eaten by a dog too.