And by "unique relationship," what I'm trying to say is that I'm a Crazy Chicken Lady with five chicken babies that I adore. (Well.... two that I adore. Three that are just okay.) And I've considered myself a successful Crazy Chicken Lady because all five of the little fluff balls we brought home in June have grown safely into fat, feathery hens.
I look out upon my little brood and say like a proud Mama, "Of them which thou hast given me, I have lost not one." Despite the crows, the hawks, the raccoons, Banjo (our dog), the cold snap last week... despite all the dangers, we have managed to keep our flock of five in tact.
So when Annika came running in the kitchen recently, frazzled and upset, saying: "Mom! I can't find Lucy anywhere - she's gone forever!" I just pat her on the head and mused, "Have faith, my child. I will always find her."
But - I couldn't find her.
I checked all the usual places and she was definitely, fully and completely missing from our backyard. And just as I started to head back inside, I heard an awful explosion of flapping and squawking coming from the front yard and saw a horribly happy-looking dog running wildly around the trees.
It's important to note that out of the two chickens that I adore, there is one that we all especially love and that is Lucy. She was the sweetest chick, the smartest pullet, and the first hen to lay an egg. If we were going to lose a chicken, it couldn't be Lucy.
I busted through the gate and tried to discern where the sounds had come from - everything had turned silent for just a moment until Banjo came charging out after me, followed by a bigger dog that we are babysitting, and they both took off in different directions down the street. Luckily, as much as Banjo knows he is loved, he also knows that I will smack the crap out of him if he runs into the street, so he came sulking back as soon as I screamed his name.
I shoved both dogs inside, told Annika "STAY," locked the door, and went back out to rescue Lucy from her imminite death.
By this point, the owner of the off-leash, horribly happy-looking dog was out there too and together we tried to figure out where she might have run off to.
Strange side-note... the dog's name? Lucy.
The woman was apologetic and trying to help find my Lucy in the bushes, but when another not-so-friendly neighbor came out to complain that the other Lucy was upsetting her chihuahuas, I suggested they head on out.
I searched for a bit, calling her name and clucking and doing all the things she usually responds to, but no luck. And then I saw a MESS of white feathers under a tree.
But still, no Lucy. (Unfortunately, it seemed like it was most of Lucy... but no actual Lucy.)
I followed the trail of feathers under a thick, thorny bramble of blackberry vines. It was all dense and wrapped up in an equally-prickly holly bush and blanketed in wet, decaying leaves but I could see a hint of white in the depths of it. I looked deeper - yes, it was a small, round shape... I got to my knees and peered in, I could see her head. I grabbed a stick and gently poked at her... her body was still and her eye was wide open, but glassy and lifeless and weird.
If I had had my phone in that moment, I would have definitely taken a picture. Not to be morbid, but only to text it to Josh and say, "Do you see this dead chicken? THIS IS WHAT MY MORNING HAS BEEN LIKE."
But in the moment that I was lamenting, "My Lucy, my only Lucy, the Lucy that I love...," I heard Annika's little voice, screaming and terrified - "Mommyyyyy!"
I left Lucy laying dead in the bushes and sprinted up the little hill to our house.
Both dogs were again out in the yard and street and Annika was on the front porch crying out for me. I hadn't been gone long, but it was apparently too long for her comfort level and she had gotten worried and decided to come looking for me with the dogs.
I apologized and explained how not okay it would have been for her to leave the house by herself, dogs or no dogs (dang Disney movies making kids think they can run off on crazy adventures and save the day. No more Mulan till she's
Then I told her that Lucy was probably dead and we were going to have to cut her out of the bushes and bury her.
And that's what we (almost) did. We headed back to the bushes with yard tools and slowly cut away at the vines. Annika was sniffing, "She was my favorite and my best" as I worked on the last bit of branches.
Just as I steeled myself to pull a lifeless chicken corpse from the bush, I saw her glassy little eye blink and look up at me.
And then she started pecking at the dirt around her, like she had just woken up from a little nap.
"Wait - she's alive!"
I checked her repeatedly for injuries, being careful of any possible internal damage, and found that she was nearly in perfect condition. She lost a lot of feathers and is still recovering from her fright, but she is alive and well.
For the record, I don't actually think Lucy resurrected from the dead. I think she went into some sort of shock and then "came to" as we got closer to her.
But it was still a weird and incredible experience. To be, in one moment, mourning... aware of death, feeling the press of disappointment, accepting a sadder reality... and then in an instant, rejoicing. Shaking off the sadness that seemed so sure and welcoming a new happiness instead.
It was small and it seems silly, but it was a shadow... an honest-to-goodness glimpse of resurrection in my heart.
I expected to be sipping Chardonnay that night, writing a ridiculous Memorium for Lucy like I did for Clementine, but instead we are keeping her warm, feeding her well, and laughing at her poor leftovers of a tail.
And when we came inside, Annika went straight to the fridge and pulled out one of Lucy's white eggs.
She cradled it in her hands and whispered joyfully:
"Your mommy is alive!"
If you'd like to watch the girls continue to grow, you can follow me on Instagram at Tatanzambe. Lots of chicken-love happening on there. ;)
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