Friday, July 30, 2004

Go Big Red

Chickens have to be clipped if you want to keep them. Otherwise, like any bird, they fly off. They don’t go the way of the Dodo, but they certainly leave your land and hang out at the neighbor’s for a while, have a smoke, drink a beer, shoot the shit, whatever the fuck chickens do when they flap off. The problem is their wing feathers grow in gradually. This gives the potential breakees immediate hope, but not the ability for a while.

I used to sit in the back yard and watch them, desperate fuckers. They’d strut around, 60 Rhode Island Reds to 1 mutt cock. They gathered along the west end of the fenced in chicken yard whenever a jail break was being planned. It was always the same fat bird going for it. I think they conned her into being the patsy. “Come on, Big Red! We’re right behind you, we swear it.” Then Red, overflowing with confidence, would separate from the pack in a burst of speed and feathers. She’d haul ass down the strip of shell laid out for them to eat, clipped wings spread wide, eyes steeled with determination. Her glory cry could be heard across the yard, “Buck-kow! Buck-kow!” Oh yes, even a chicken understands the precious value of freedom. First a breeze, then a gust, and then…then…LIFT OFF!

Like a pot belly pig thrust blindly into the air, that fat Red hen would flap furiously in an effort to gain height. She’d wobble ever higher, propelled by adrenaline and pure desire. “Buck-kow! Buck-kow!” Flap-Flap-Flap-Flap-Flap! Three feet, four feet, five feet.

“Go, Big Red!” I'd shout. “You can do it! Go, go, go!”

“Buck-kow!” she’d cry out to me. Five feet, six feet, almost, almost-

“You can do it, girl! You can do it! Gooooooo-”

YES! She did it! Yes, yes, yes!

Big Red crested the fence line and furiously flapped her way into the freedom land, pride and relief suddenly replacing adrenaline and determination. Her wings pooped out on her and she slowly drifted toward the ground despite her best efforts. I cheered and screamed. “She did it! She did it! Momma, come see, Big Red got over the fence! MOMMA!”

I jumped up and down in excitement. The chickens in the yard rushed the fence, their beaks poking through the holes in shock and envy. “Buck-kow!” Big Red began flapping again, this time lifting just far enough off the ground to take her victory lap when suddenly, from the right, I saw a streak of color and the excited, playful bark of our young dog, Harvey.

“Harvey, NO!”

Unaware of how much had just been accomplished, how much practice, blood, sweat and tears had gone into this particular jail break, Harvey rushed in to snag Big Red by the neck in mid-flight and with one fatal snap he wrung her neck, killing her instantly.

Not one damn chicken ever attempted another break after that.