The Wonder Chicken

I was at a local feed store the other day, and noticed how chickens and chicken stuff is flying off the shelves as everyone tools up to take care of their new backyard chickens.

But that makes me a little nervous.  Because I wonder how many of those chickens are going to get the proper care.  And what’s going to happen to them after their owners get tired of them . . .

So here’s where I’d like to introduce you to Elvis the Wonder Chicken:

Isn’t she sweet? She’s a black silkie.  Her name?  We thought she might be a guy to start with, but then she started laying eggs.

My middle name is responsible. I used to be a lifeguard when I was in high school. And before that I used to take care of my younger siblings and pets.  Now I have lots of pets, and I’ve been so darned responsible — I”ll forget to take my vitamins, but I always make sure they’re taken care of!

So a few weeks ago, I came back from a trip, and was back to checking on my chickens.  I checked on them on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  But Wednesday afternoon, I couldn’t find Elvis.  I hunted all over and all over and started to freak a bit.  Could she have been stolen?  Or taken by a fox? Why hadn’t I noticed before?

I felt like such a bad caretaker.  And then I noticed a white tub that was turned over.  I don’t remember that it was turned over before my trip, and it had been windy, so it probably had flipped over in the last week.

And then I had the thought that maybe Elvis was underneath.  If she was, then she had been there for several days, because she’s a small bantam and couldn’t turn it over herself and crawl under.  A chicken under the tub would have stayed at a decent temperature, not too cold and not too hot, and the ground was wet from recent snow so there was moisture, and there was feed strewn around the yard, but still — I prepared myself for a dead chicken.

I gently lifted the edge as the other bantams creeped closer.  A black silkie shot out.  The other bantams and I jumped a foot, and then we all collectively breathed a sigh of relief.

Now I count my chickens every night.  And I hope that everyone who buys chickens thinks seriously about the commitment involved.  Elvis the Wonder Chicken probably survived 4 days (or more) until the tub, but she is a wonder, an anomaly.  We can’t assume our chickens are going to survive without our constant care.  So think long and hard before you get them.  And count them nightly — in honor of Elvis . . .


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