About 20 years ago, accidental chickens “fell” into my life. Well, ONE chicken fell off a Perdue commercial chicken truck and my husband brought it home. We don’t live on a farm, weren’t raising chickens and I don’t know what possessed him, but there you have it. We already had 3 children, 6 cats (the last two he brought home, too) and a chipmunk we had rescued from the cat. “Chipper” lived in a terrarium in our den for 11 years and gave us (and the cats!) many hours of amusement.
Back to the chicken. “Clucky” lived outside, ate the cat food we put outside (it was also shared by grackles, blue jays, raccoons and an occasional skunk, to name just a few) and foraged on the property and slightly beyond. She never strayed far. She roosted at night on the old cat scratching post we placed in a protected corner just off the back porch. She was out of the wind and most of the rain and she seemed happy. She was a white leghorn and was bred to be a fat brooder hen or a roaster for Perdue and she became quite plump. And she found a friend we called “Charlie.”
The neighbor behind us had apparently, at one time, had a few chickens that free ranged wherever they wanted to go. Most were gone, but he couldn’t catch Charlie to give him away, so he hung around. Charlie found Clucky and chicken love occurred…..all over our yard. Charlie was a normal, healthy bantom rooster and he roosted in the trees at night. He did his darndest to encourage Clucky to come up there with him, and she tried, bless her heart. She never got higher than the picnic table….she was just too fat to fly up there. So he gave up and she gave up, but he watched over her at night from his tree, while she roosted on the cat post about 20 feet away. I’m guessing the only reason she did not get nabbed by a predator was Charlie’s presence.
We occasionally found an egg or two, but they had always been broken by some critter or other and Clucky never hatched any chicks. Next summer was brutally hot and we came home from work one day to find that Clucky had expired (we assumed from the heat) right in the back yard. There was no sign of a run-in with a predator; just probably heat exhaustion for a poor, fat chicken.
All of us were very sad about this event, because we had become accustomed to having her around, though she never let us touch her. She was just part of the backyard life and I think it was a good one for her, especially considering that when she fell off the truck, she was probably on her way to becoming a roaster or just a brood hen in a cage, producing for the masses. Her life with us allowed her to run around free, eat her fill every day and even have a semi-normal attachment to a male, though heaven knows, one rooster to one hen is a rather heavy load on the hen. She didn’t seem to mind 🙂
Tune in next time, folks, for Accidental Chickens, Part 2