We needed 3 hens for the Earthling Pod project and the universe gave my brooder 7 chicks. Sadly, a case of fowl pox forced me to set 6 of them free from their bodies. Yeah, I know, I just can’t say it. They were so innocent. At least I chanted the Om mani padme om to them into the next life as I ended this one. And it wasn’t like I could bury them, as that would spread the pox virus. I had to dispose of them in the HUMAN way, into a dust bin. Dust bin? I’m American. Jesus Xandra, cut back on the BritComs. Anyway, This sassy little chick and her mom, Fancy were the only survivors. Not only did they survive, but I secured them in a sturdy cage and packed them off with me and the other critters in the mass exodus of hurricane Irma. Alas, the time came. I had to make the decision that Fancy and her baby Nancy were just not happy in their little coop and it was time to turn them loose with the flock…the Free Range Dozen; after all, they had survived a major hurricane, surely they were ready. As you will see, the flock was far less kind than even the Dirty Dozen. So nearly a week ago, Fancy and her baby Nancy were set loose to free range and live the high life among chickens.
A few days ago, I heard a peculiar tap at the glass of my front door and the chief of chicken police, Lord Lenox the Chihuahua alerted to chicken drama. As we’ve had a few stray dogs, I bolted out the door to find Fancy and Nancy at the top of the stairs and 3 rough looking roosters at the bottom. Lucky for me I’m fast on my feet and have opposable thumbs and a KA-bar on my hip. I leapt from the top step, a staggering 3 feet and darted to the hose with a power nozzle and proceeded to shoot down the assailants with rapid fire… um.. water. This began a battle between me and the cocks that lasted for days. I created my own signature crow and after I ran flapping my wings…er…arms (wing envy,) and crowing my crow to the top of my lungs, it would keep them at bay for hours and Fancy and Nancy lived safely and happily in the little open coop at the bottom of my stairs. Now here’s where the whole thing turns dark.
I rushed out of the house a bit after 6am this morning with a 20 pound baby wolf in my arms that really needed to wee, and I noticed Fancy alone. It was odd but not enough to completely awaken me pre-coffee so we went in and started the gourmet breakfast, fit for wolf and Chihuahua. After coffee, breakfast and indoor playtime Lord Lenox ran to the door alerting to chicken drama. I made my way to the door to see the large red rooster my neighbor and I call the rapist mounting Fancy. If you’ve ever spent time in a bar or a lethal situation with me, you know this is when my PTSD kicks in.
I step briefly away from the humor to show a bit of the child inside the armor. It’s hard to say which violent episode caused the worst PTSD in me but I was beyond fortunate when I met a pack of Vietnam vets who not only became my dads but shared my dark demon (fear) and taught me how to defend the child me from ever again becoming his victim. Later in life, my bodyguard who became a soul mate filled in the gaps and taught me how to stop time, stop pain, stop violence and respond… NOT react, but respond. I was able to hone this skill to not only survive but to protect those unable to protect themselves. Fast forward through the decades to Fancy the chicken.
Because I come from a family of authors, artists and intellectuals the word anthropomorphize is one we used often in conversations about our pets. [Anthropomorphize: When you talk about a thing or animal as if it were human, you’re anthropomorphizing it. The Easter Bunny is an anthropomorphized rabbit. https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/anthropomorphize ]
So what happened to me today was completely anthropomorphic…unless all 100 leading scientists of the world were right and animals are sentient, self aware and possess emotions. It doesn’t matter where you stand on that because today me and my PTSD saw an innocent being raped. I jumped off the steps close enough to the incident that the rooster jumped off. I think he thought about taking me on but having opposable thumbs and the ability to use weapons, I picked up a narrow branch and threw it like a spear with accuracy that surprised even me. I crowed and ranted and threw things until he was well away then went to find my poor wounded sister Fancy and her baby Nancy.
I found her…Fancy. She was pacing alone under the stairs. I spent the entire day today defending Fancy from the aggressive roosters of two different flocks who tried to rape and enslave her. I looked all day for her baby, Nancy and at one point, I found Fancy nestled in a cool patch of dirt under the stairs and I said, “Fancy, where’s your baby?” You can’t tell me I imagined this; a mother’s deep mourning, pain and the loss of her child. She looked at me…in my eyes, for the longest time; long enough for me to become uncomfortable, then she looked to the dirt. She sat that way until I could admit to myself that the animal kingdom has no place for a single hen and her nearly grown baby. With no flock…no roosters to protect them, they were…what? just wrong? I’m sobbing right now, guys. I understand she needed the protection of the flock, that the flock depends on her future egg production to continue to grow and exist and I understand that nature did not see me, a single middle-aged woman with her weird flock, her obscure pack of snakes, a wolf and Chihuahua as adequate protection…ahhh. It wasn’t about the protection…it’s about the production. Nancy had to die and Fancy had to be within the protection of a flock.
At the end of the day…today, it was Fancy who made the choice to run off with the alpha rooster of the large and primary flock. I ran out the door when I saw him mount her; I crowed and beat my chest to tell him he would not violate another here. And then I saw the rooster at the edge of the woods…and then I saw the beautiful white hen that ran after him…and then I saw myself. I can’t help but hear the words of Elizabeth the First in one of my very favorite films, Elizabeth: “I will have one mistress here and NO master!” I am the survivor of multiple sexual and physical assaults, I am a survivor, I am a protector, I am a raped hen and a badass rooster and I am alone. Okay, so nature, as usual, taught the lesson today. I may not take another rooster, (or hen, hey evolve faster,) but I am trying to rejoin the flock. See, I just bared my soul to you…flock.
The photo above is sassy little Nancy, And the next is Nancy when they were barely hatchlings.