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  • Writer's picturewwambrose

Chicken Shit

I used to say, "honey, I'm going out to check on the chickens." Or I might say to myself, "oops, it's time to feed the chickens." At the time we had four chickens: two White Leghorns, a Rhode Island Red, and a Black Australorp. A nice variety that produced a steady supply of brown and white eggs. They were easy to manage and they stayed out of trouble.

Long story short, we went away for three months and when we returned there was only one chicken remaining. Supposedly the others ran away, but chickens don't run away. They get taken away, usually by some form of carnivore. In our case likely a fox or coyote.

It happens. We've lost chickens to hawks, dogs, disease, and sometimes to who knows what. They just drop dead. My understanding is sometimes the egg gets stuck coming out and that kills 'em. One time our chickens were free ranging when our puppy starting chasing them for fun. One panicked and ran off a ledge that happened to have a rose bush growing on it. The chicken's neck got snagged on a rose briar while its body flew off the ledge. Just like that the neck snapped and that's all folks.

So now instead of saying I'm going out to feed the chickens, I say I'm going out to feed the chicken. Instead of how are the chickens getting along, it's how is the chicken getting along. I must admit it's a disturbing sensibility. It's hard to take farming seriously with only one chicken. What's next, I'm going out to check on the bee?

One silver lining: it turns out that one chicken is enough for our needs as we don't really eat many eggs. Perhaps there is a moral in that.

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