Sunday, January 23, 2011

Just Us Chickens

I'm home in Smalltownland, albeit briefly, to make sure my folks have enough food from the nearby Wally World to get through the latest impending's supposed to snow most of the coming week, and I want to make sure they have milk, bread, and toilet paper, the sacred triumvirate of houseboundness back here.

I knew I'd reached the county line when I noticed, rambling around in somebody's driveway near the road, a rather large, beautiful chicken. Since it was a lone bird, marching proudly around a house that had no obvious coops out back, I think it's probably a pet. Too bad, really, because it was a nice, big one. She'd make a pretty good meal.

That takes me back to when I moved over to Lake Redneckville for my current job. Every morning, I'd hear a rooster crowing not far from my house. Not that I find this particularly disturbing, since we lived on a ridge overlooking, among others, my high school principal's farm and roosters are a fact of life in the country- it's just that I lived smack in the middle of town.

One day, a couple of weeks after I moved into the house, I cut across a small, winding street next to the city cemetery, which beats braving the twenty-some-odd traffic lights that slow one down on US 27, when I passed a flattened miniature Rhode Island Red rooster...I could tell by the squished rusty body and the forlorn plume of green tailfeathers bobbing in the wind.

Yes, I'd finally moved into town...a block away from someone with a coop full of banty chickens. It gave me a weird sense of comfort, until it was reported later that day that someone had caught a small black bear rummaging through their trash, also about a block from my house in another direction.

Coyotes I can take, but bears, not so much. I don't keep long arms, that is to say, I own neither a shotgun nor a rifle. A handgun is somewhat ineffective against the ursine among us, and besides, we don't have bears back home. That's an Eastern Kentucky thing.

Anyway, from time to time back here in Smalltownland, you do come upon (though not so much anymore) a chicken squashed by the side of the road where the owners just let them scratch in the yard all day. Chickens aren't very bright and it's irrelevant why they crossed the road- too often, they don't make it to the other side. I'm wondering if that beautiful speckled hen is going to be ambulatory by the time I go home tonight...

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