Friday, January 21, 2011

Illustration: Chickens

3.25 x 3.75 inches
Watercolor and India ink

When I was in the seventh grade, I had a pet Leghorn hen named, "Clara".  I'd raised her from a chick, so she was quite tame. She was an outdoor chicken (of course), and so had full run of the backyard; no grub or bit of grass went unnoticed by her sharp golden eyes.  There was only one problem: she liked to fly.  People unfamiliar with chickens might not know it, but these birds can and will take to the air when they get the notion. Oh, they might not get into the stratosphere. Nevertheless they can certainly get some decent lift when they're not overfed/underexercized factory automatons.   Some mornings I'd find her roosting in the upper reaches of a lilac bush, or on top of our swing set.   She especially liked to take off from our second story deck with wild jungle fowl abandon.

Then one day, I couldn't find Clara.  I looked high and low.  I made signs.  And then the truth came out from a reluctant neighbor: While I was away at school, my chicken had soared like Amelia Earhart over our eight-foot high where two terriers awaited.

All that was left was a handful of white feathers.

I've not had a pet chicken since that time, but now that Fort Collins has made it legal to own up to three hens within city limits, I might re-consider.  I'll just make sure to keep a gentle check on their flying ambitions...

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