The chickens and i have this little game. Our kitchen is essentially a screened outdoor space, and it is pleasant in hot weather to leave the doors open for ventilation, especially when the stove is going.
And this is when the chickens see how unobtrusively they can tiptoe into the kitchen and gobble cat kibbles, while I lay in wait for them, innocently skimming milk or washing dishes like chickens don’t exist, with one of Mirin’s last remaining working Nerf guns loaded and on hand (the horrible things have come in handy at last!)
They have 40 acres to forage, but they spend all their time pursuing the forbidden kibble.
The Turken chicken is the worst. It never knows when to give up already. It lurks from door to door, bald and gangly, like a mangy red vulture, always. It might be the ugliest chicken I’ve ever seen, but the unfortunate thing certainly has brains, and admirable persistence.
Not even a well-aimed Nerf dart to their fluffy behinds discourages them from making another try in a few minutes, but it is a fun game at the moment of the phsshhht… thunk! and the horrible squawk, less enjoyable when it scares the shit out of them and i have to clean the floor.
We had a nice break from the problem over the winter and spring when we kept them in a moveable coop shelter. It wasn’t ideal, but it was the only way to keep them out of the garden where they had caused so much havoc.
Recently I had let them free again after one morning walking up to the far corner of the farm where we had tractored them along to, and discovering that two of them had been brutally murdered while sleeping inside the coop on the nest box.
I found their bodies, nestled together in death, with their skulls eaten out of the loose skin of their faces, leaving them crumpled and empty. It was horrifying. A scratched-out shallow hole under the edge of the coop was the only other evidence of the intruder. They were too far away for us or the dog to hear and rescue.
The rest of the chickens seemed to look as horrified as I felt, and I took pity on them and let them free. The eggs are more numerous and of much better quality now, though it took all of 3 days for them to remember how much they liked crapping all over the deck and patio and sneaking into the kitchen after cat kibbles.
When you are out of the fixed and processed human-centered world we’ve created, you see things.
Some things are beautiful, some things are terrible, and some are both. There’s birth and life, but there are also things like grizzly death and fly-strike that haunt your dreams.
Maybe that’s why, unlike so many people, i can’t stand to watch violent movies. My brother, who has spent most of his life trying to be as normal as possible, is entertained by computer games where the blood of the fallen spews out realistically, and relishes movies with graphic death where fake blood splatters everywhere and fake guts pour on the floor.
These things don’t attract me, not when i have pulled still-warm organs from the belly of a carcass, or seen real life blood gush back into the earth, dust to dust, and from grass to steak. Too often I’ve been witness to real blood and real death, the shocking leavings of brutal predators, or accidents, like the little pig who got cyanide poisoning from plum pits and turned blue and gasped as i held her in my lap in her last moments.
You see things, real things. And you realize just how edible chickens are. So for now, we’re playing the game.