Lucky 13: The Life of a Free Range Chickengreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread
We inherited a flock of wild fighting chickens from a previous tenant in 1995. They were juveniles. One grew up to be a rooster and the other 12 were hens. One little hen was so low in the pecking order that she wasn't allowed to even show herself to the other dozen. I found her and fed her every day, and told her she was lucky to be able to eat so much more than the others. Lucky 13 became her name.
We intended to eat the chicken's eggs. In most cases the hens walked off as hens should. Not Lucky. The only time I followed my grandmother's advice to "just reach in under her and take those eggs", Lucky nearly blinded me. We had a terrible fight. I knocked her out of the air with a broom at one point to save my face. She kept her eggs. Civilized chickens are stupid, but feral ones are not. Lucky never forgot that I was an egg-stealing chicken-beater. She treated me with suspicious contempt ever after.
Lucky was particularly broody. She sat on her nest with an almost religious fanaticism. Unfortunately in her fanaticism for nest safety, she built the nest on a narrow shelf about five feet off of the floor. All of her chicks died on impact but one. On her behalf we removed all horizontal surfaces in the barn that were higher than two feet off the floor. She refused to nest lower...her safety requirements were more important.
That one chick became her constant companion. There were no more. Our 100-pound doberman accidentally walked between the two. Lucky jumped on the dog's head and rode that dog around the house twice while pounding the dog's ears with her wings. I thought that was pretty funny until she did it to me. She drew blood and my head was sore for days.
Lucky lost her chick the next year and returned to her solitary life. Last month I caught her making a nest near the floor of the barn. I walked out quickly, but she saw me and gave it up. I had planned to take some eggs from the bigger hens and give them to Lucky to brood, but Lucky don't work for nobody.
Something got Lucky a couple of weeks ago. It must have been quite a fight, as she was torn up pretty badly. She was alone (as usual) on the edge of the woods when we found her. A careful inspection of our surviving dog proved she didn't do the killing. The dog was aware of her mortal danger during the inspection and was careful to show no interest in the body.
When I see debates on whether chickens have enough sense to enjoy being free-ranged, I think of Lucky. She had boundaries and an apparent sense of self. She had a life.
-- helen (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 19, 2000
Helen, Thank you for a Lovely Story. It brought balm, to my soul.
-- Ya never know (email@example.com), March 20, 2000.
Great story. Illustrates why the term 'dumb animal'is a misnomer.
-- Bingo (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 21, 2000.