April 28, 2009

Chicken stories: The chicken murder

bantam rooster, La Ceiba, Honduras
A long time ago, we gave one of our bantam roosters to my nieces and nephews. They later got a regular-sized white hen to keep him company. While the main reason for wanting chickens was for the eggs, the kids treat the chickens like pets. They can hold their arm out and call the rooster and he will jump up on their arm and wait to be petted. They love those chickens!

I told you the story about how they brought their rooster with them when they visited because they were worried about him being stolen.

Eventually, they wanted another hen which we promised to give them. Little E said, "will you bring it tomorrow?" We said we would try to catch one. "If you can't bring it tomorrow, will you bring it on Sunday?" Yes, we'll try. "If you can't bring it on Sunday, will you bring it on Monday?" Yes. "If you can't bring it on Monday, will you bring it on Tuesday?" We laughed and said we would do our best.

Unfortunately, we couldn't catch the wild tree chickens (another story) so it was quite some time before they came over again and helped us to catch one. It took a good 30-40 minutes of all us running around the yard, trying to corner a hen before we finally got one. The kids were so happy.

They did as we said and kept their new hen locked up in their little coop for three days so hopefully she would know this was her new home. Being a wild tree chicken, however, at first chance to get out, she flew up into a tall tree and that is where she insisted on sleeping every night. Eventually, the roo abandoned his life-long partner and began sleeping in the tree with the new babe.

The kids loved their pet chickens. They feed and take care of them. They play with them. They display them to visitors. When they go missing, the kids search high and low and are very, very sad until they come back. Once the white hen disappeared for a couple of weeks. Apparently she had been stolen by a neighbor but made her escape and returned to her loving home where she was happily greeted by her family.

One day, a neighbor's dog got out and chased the chickens. Nephew E heard the commotion and ran outside. The rooster and large hen flew off, but the dog snatched up the bantam hen. E screamed at the dog to let her go, but the dog viciously gnawed at her and then flung the bleeding body to the ground − all right in front of 9-year-old E.

His mom took the hen inside to see what she could do for it but it was too badly wounded, her chest was ripped open. He was devastated and cried and cried at the horrible fate suffered by his beloved pet. Somehow, if the dog had eaten the chicken because he was hungry, that would have been easier to take than outright murder.

Later he sadly told the neighbors (the dog's owners) about what happened and they laughed and said it must have been the chicken's fault.
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