Denise Krebs of California is our host today for #VerseLove, inspiring to write poems about death. You can read her full prompt here. I think of the death of Jesus on the cross today, the resurrection, and promise of eternal life for believers. For me.
But in my travels on Wednesday up in North Georgia, I saw the strangest thing. And that is what I share today. I can’t get it out of my mind, can’t unsee and unwonder. And so I write.
Plummeting Chicken Death
three dead chickens lay
on I-75 South
in North Georgia rain
chicken carcasses strewn out
like castoff garments
how did this happen?
there were no farmlands nearby
no livestock, no barns
kicked into full gear – these hens
(I presumed) died fast
all the better, really
maybe a poultry truck door
swung open, flinging
these ladies groundward
to the hard concrete below
…or maybe they jumped
thought they could still fly
then realized the truth too late
as cars tried to swerve
most not successful
they’re all three dead, either way
these interstate hens
A couple of years ago, we had a full-fledged farm – goats, hens, roosters, dogs, cat, pig. Our pig ran off one day, and we sold our goats when I took a different position that would require more of my evenings for a time. When a developer broke ground about a mile down the road and began a dreaded subdivision waaaaaay out here in the country, we experienced an influx of displaced animals – food-freeloading foxes, cunning coyotes, and hungry hawks. One by one, our chickens started disappearing.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that a hawk will not go into an enclosed space. That’s a myth. Even with chicken wire across the top of the coop, a determined hawk got in our coop and killed some of our birds. We ended up giving the last few away as an act of mercy until the wildlife on the move finished their great migration through here.
Now that the dust has settled, we aren’t seeing nearly as many predators as we did before. We do have two Great Horned Owls who have taken up residence in our trees and hoot back and forth at each other in the early mornings, but those are the only threats we have observed lately, other than the red-tailed hawks who swoop through to check in from time to time.
“Do you think we could spruce up the coop and try again?” I asked my husband a few weekends ago.
We got attached to our chickens in a way that didn’t happen with our goats or our pig, and we’d found ourselves sitting outside just watching the entertainment unfold every afternoon when we got home from work and would let them out for a few hours. Chickens are funny, and they have definite personalities. Pecking order is no joke.
My husband is a man who loves farm-fresh eggs, Smithfield original bacon, rustic potato bread toasted with butter and elderberry jam, and Eight O’Clock coffee two or three nights a week for supper. So when I’d asked about getting more chickens, I wasn’t surprised by his answer.
“Absolutely,” he replied, without hesitation.
“I’ll call my friend Laura with the Zoom-famous rooster and see if she has any chicks. We can build back from scratch.”
I wanted highly socialized chickens, and I was hoping she’d have some young chicks or some eggs ready to hatch soon. One of Laura’s extra-friendly roosters likes to come into the house and sit on the back of her chair as she is having Zoom meetings, and he is greeted just like he’s a voting executive who has read all of his minutes from the previous meeting and is ready to entertain a motion.
Turns out, Laura had eleven eggs in a brooder, ready to hatch within the week when I called her. She and her husband were going to be candling that weekend to see which eggs would produce. Nine of them hatched on my late mother’s birthday, February 19th. The other two never did.
There are seven hens and two roosters in this group of nine, and Laura texts me weekly updates on them. We can’t wait to bring them home later this month to introduce them to their new coop. For now, they are staying on Laura’s farm while they get a little size on them and we move into warmer days.
Meet our new babies! We can’t wait to bring them home to the Johnson Funny Farm! Get ready for picture overload and naming them once they come home to roost.
We’ll post plenty of pictures on homecoming day in about a week and a half, so stay tuned!