It was not the most enjoyable chicken sandwich-eating experience I’ve ever had, but it did remind me of a Gold Kist chicken I once knew who didn’t end up between two buns.
Now, this wasn’t just any chicken. It was the luckiest chicken in all the world. It was first spotted it in the middle of Highway 27, trying to answer the eternal question of “Why did I cross the road?”
Karen, the rescuer, was late for an appointment, so she was only able to cast some good wishes the bird’s way before continuing down the road. On her way back, about an hour later, she pulled into the Publix parking lot and saw a patch of white against the green of a parking lot island. She drove over and found the chicken, safe and sound, pecking around in the grass. Karen approached carefully, wielding a shirt like a net. The chicken regarded her placidly. Karen threw the shirt and captured her, taking the chicken back to work with her, and eventually home for the night.
She said the chicken looked like it had escaped off a Gold Kist truck. Its belly was scraped clean of feathers where it had first hit the asphalt. Was she shoved out of a crack in the cage by the jostling masses? Or had she escaped by her own wit and guile. Either way, she was now with Karen, living the life of Riley in a Rubbermaid tub. Karen named her “Lucky Lucy.”
Although Karen was happy to save Lucy, she couldn’t keep her and was soon on the lookout for a foster home. She went by Burson’s Feed and Seed to see if they knew anybody who would take in the luckiest hen in the world. They knew we had poultry and gave Karen our phone number. Karen called and asked if we would take Lucy in. I was delighted and told her to bring her on over.
In a few minutes, she did, lifting Lucy out of her truck in her Rubbermaid coop. We took her over to the little pen behind the house and put her into the roosting coop, where it was dark and quiet, and she could get used to her new surroundings on her own time.
She came out eventually, but all she did was stand and look around. She didn’t peck corn off the ground. She didn’t eat food out of the feeder. It was like she didn’t know how to embrace her chicken-ness. Her only life experience so far was living in a cramped pen, gorging on a conveyer belt of feed 24/7.
Pop came by to look at her. He studied her through the fence for a minute or two and proclaimed, “She needs another chicken in there so she can learn from it.”
We enlisted Little bitty. She’s the smallest hen we have — perfect for tutoring Lucky Lucy. But when we put her into the pen, Little bitty wasn’t too excited about being trapped away from the rest of her flock. She fussed around for a while, calling out loud and hoping her chicken friends would join her in confinement. The rooster crowed from a distance, but came no closer. Lucy hid in the darkness of the roosting house.
Finally, I opened the roosting house door, picked Lucy up and pushed her out into the chicken yard. Lucy stood nervously in the doorway, ready to bolt at the first sign of a Gold Kist truck. Little bitty paced back and forth furiously, trying to find the least little hole for her big escape. I was beginning to doubt my pairing.
Finally, Lucy came away from the door of the roosting house and moved a little closer to the other hen. She was curious and wanted to see what the fuss was all about. She watched while Little bitty pecked corn from the ground. She even tried a little herself, finding the corn to be a good thing.
By now, the hens had company. The rooster had come to investigate. He paced on the outside of the fence, worried about his little hen trapped in lockdown. Then he spied Lucky Lucy and ran over to the other side of the pen, dragging his wing, trying to boss her from the other side of the wire. He flapped his wings fiercely and crowed in splendid display. Despite his feathery fireworks, Lucy was not impressed.
Lucy lived with is for about a year. She learned how to eat corn off the ground, how to chase crickets, and how to watch out for the red-tailed hawk danger from the sky.
But Lucy had a genetic destiny. Her breast grew larger and larger until she could hardly walk anymore. I discovered her in the chicken yard one morning, her head tucked under her wing, as cold as a stone. Lucy didn’t have a long life, but compared to the other Gold Kist hens that ended up on Sunday dinner plates, she had a good life indeed.
Gentry, a Carroll County resident, writes a weekly column for the Times-Georgian.