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Death By Chicken

When we first moved in together, Scott made it clear that we would never, EVER have chickens. When I asked why he would mumble things like 'vicious' or 'feathered, beaked bastards'. He was not going to clean up chicken crap, he was not going to get in a pen with them- and he definitely was never going to attempt to grab an egg out from underneath a hormonal, broody chicken. He liked his fingers, eyeballs and ears right where they were.

Cut to last summer- and he finally gave in. Which took me by surprise. Did I pester him for a solid five years? Yes. Did I beg and plead and snark at him? Absolutely. Did I ever think he would actually cave? HELL NO! Let's be clear- I like the idea of having chickens and eating my own backyard eggs. But in practice, I'm terrified of those feathered terrorists. Even if you disregard the fact that they are DINOSAURS who survived an apocalyptic asteroid wiping out almost all life on earth- chickens are unpredictable, sharp beaked, tooth having, wing flapping, flying 'Karen's' who have perfected the art somehow looking down their nose at you- while in stature only coming up to your mid calf. So as much as I was nagging Scott for them- I thought it was safe. I could whine and moan about not having chickens and blame Scott as the reason, when really I didn't think it was a great idea either. But what are you gonna do? Old ball and chain says no. Ha! He got me good there.

But once Scott makes a decision, it's done. Before I could backtrack and build a case for why we shouldn't, he built a portable coop in record time that sits on steel skis. It can be moved around the yard by roping it to the pick up truck and 'givin err' until the coop heaves forward into a new spot. A very sophisticated operation. Not at all reminiscent of something you'd see in a deep south trailer park.

Our friends secured us 15 unsexed chicks from a local farm, and we were off to the races. Now- anyone who has had chickens knows why I just specified they were unsexed. That means you don't really know if you're getting laying hens (girls) or roosters (boys). But with 15 chicks, Scott and I figured that even if we got 3 or 4 roosters in the bunch- 10 layers is plenty to keep the two of us and are friends/family in eggs. Oh, how naive we were.

It was soon evident that we definitely had more than 3 or 4 roosters. It seemed each week another chick would grow markedly bigger than the others. I'm going to save you the details- but by the time the chicks reached maturity we were down to 12 chickens (natural selection is a real bitch) and 9 of them were ROOSTERS. 9. NINE! And I don't know if you know this, but you can't keep 9 roosters. Even if you put aside the fact that they produce nothing for you- so you are essentially feeding/caring for them, getting very little in return- they also turn on each other and it turns into a fight to the death. You might think I am exaggerating- oh nay nay. I was sitting on the porch and heard a shrill squawk, turning to see a shit storm of feathers and birds, beaks and talons being thrown around the run on the coop. A fucking cage match. Welcome to the thunder dome.

Scott broke the news to me not long after, that 8 of the 9 roosters had to go. In my complete nativity I thought he meant we would re-home them to local farms. Nope. No Mennonite farmer or otherwise was going to take a feed burning rooster from us, and we definitely would not be able to pawn off 8. They needed to be culled (fancy speak for killed). And Scott had made the decision we would be doing this ourselves. He built a station for the deed. To say it looked like a macrbe shrine of sacrifice would be an understatement.

Picture this- looking out the window above my kitchen sink I see a sad looking wooden cross in the middle of the yard. Two upside down pylons nailed to the ends of the board running parallel to the ground. For those of you not in the know- you are supposed to drop the chicken head down through the pylon until their head pokes out the narrow opening. You then bleed them and begin to dress them. Which is the stupidest thing to call de-feathering and gutting them. It should be called undressing, if catch my drift.

Not that we got that far. I looked out the window to see Scott (who had told me to stay in the house and that he would 'handle it') bent at the waist taking deep breaths. He then stood up and put his hands on the top of this head, and then resumed the bent over position. Poor guy couldn't do it. When I walked out to see him he was dry heaving and saying, "I can't do it *heave* I can't do it".

Poor softy. It's why we love him so much.

Anyways- we are just going to completely skip over what ended up happening with the roosters. All you need to know is that we are currently rooster free. We're gonna say they went to a farm after all. Yes. That sounds like the thing that will offend the least amount of people. Cause I don't have time for that.

Cut to a month ago and we have one laying hen, Dorothy, left that survived the harsh winter and plethora of predators that frequent our yard. I of course, am concerned that she is lonely. Chickens like hanging out in a flock, and I hated the thought of Dorothy being bored and lonesome. We tasked Scott's mom with securing us three more hens. And she did not disappoint. One beautiful grey chicken and two feisty red headed chickens.

Unfortunately, chickens always establish a pecking order. Top bitch can peck any one, second in command can peck any one but the top bitch, and so on and so forth. They establish this order by pecking the crap out each other until someone inevitably yields (usually missing a few tail feathers and bleeding from a few spots). Just like high school.

I quickly noticed that Dorothy was only picking on the beautiful grey chicken- Agnus. I figured that they were approximately the same size and markedly larger that the two red hens- so she was the only one that Dorothy viewed as a threat that needed be shown who was boss. Again- how naive.

Scott was out on a overtime call and I decided to head to the coop to collect the day's eggs and close the ladies in for the night. I hopped up into the coop and notice the feisty red heads sitting in their nesting boxes. I would like to point out that I was cordial. AND polite. I said hello. I told them how beautiful they looked. I didn't even comment on the way they trashed the bedding I spread out earlier in the day (bitches). As I bent over to grab two of the eggs that had been tucked in the corner of the coop- I heard a terrifying sound. The furious flapping of wings. The unmistakable *whoosh* of a bird taking off. And then the sharp pinch of talons landing on my back.

It gets a little blurry here. Sheer panick ran up my spine and I screamed- backing away and trying to the throw the chicken off me as I darted for the door. How I survived I'll never know. I was lucky to escape with my life. Those red headed psycho Sallies were going for my jugular. I immediately pulled out my cellphone and called Scott.

Scott: Hello?

Me: Fuck this!

Scott: Oh hi honey, how ya doing?

Me: How do you think I'm doing?

Scott: What happened?

Me: Those birds are nuts. Dorothy wasn't NOT picking on the red hens because she didn't view them as a threat. They are FUCKING CRAZY. She knows they would have killed her if she tried to peck them.

Scott: Ahh- you tried to get the eggs?

Me: Excuse me?

Scott: Ya they are kind of insane. You're fine. Go put on your winter coat, with the hood up- don't forget that. And grab the garbage can lid to use a shield. You should be able to get in there and grab the eggs with minimal damage.

Me: Are you kidding me? I'm not going back in there. The correct response is "I'll get them for you tonight honey. Just go relax."

Scott: Eeeh, you'll be fine. Put on your big girl panties and deal with it.

And that is why Scott slept on the couch that weekend. And almost suffered death by chicken.

Love, Kay


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