We live in a small, one-floor apartment complex in a rather rural area. Most of the large farms were done in by a big drought that began just before we moved up here in 2001, but there are a lot of smaller farms, and some folks who homestead. There are two horse properties about a quarter of a mile down the road, almost directly across the road from one another. There are two small dairy farms in that same direction, and then a big dairy about a mile up the road, going the other way. There is a woman who breeds sheep and spins the wool; she dyes it and sells it at the local stores. Her sheep sometimes wander onto our property, usually late at night.
Behind us and up toward the next town over (East), Vernon, there is a man with “free range” chickens. I’ve gotten eggs from him, and they are delicious. I’ve never gotten a chicken from him because… well, I’m no plucker, okay?
I fell asleep on the couch last night, watching B horror movies. I do that fairly often, and, when I do, one of my cats (usually Sam, my big boy-kitty) wakes me up early in the morning so I can fix kitty-breakfast. Nothing abnormal about that…
… But this morning, both cats were running up and down the length of my body with excited purring (not the “I’m happy” kind, but the purr that sounds like the revving of little engines, over and over: purr-purr, purr-purr, purr-purr!). While I forced my eyes open and attempted to roll off of the couch without knocking a cat to the floor, I realised that there were other sounds going on.
Did I leave Farmtown open on my Facebook last night?
Seeing that I was awake, both cats, Sam and Mikey (my little girl-kitty) began meowing at me impatiently and then running to the front windows and the front door. Sam’s meows weren’t even full now; they sounded more like “meh”. That only happens when he is excited to the max… when someone or something is outside the door.
The computer had been shut down. So what the heck is all of that noise?
I moved to the right of the desk, two cats, one big, one small, doing figure eights around my ankles, and opened the blinds.
Rubbed my eyes, put my glasses back on (Ken had taken them from me while I slept and put them on the desk) and blinked again.
What the heck???
Chickens. LOTS of chickens, maybe a hundred were running all over the front yard. All over the parking lot. Ticking off the beavers in the pond; Bob, Doug, John Candy and Martin Short were in an uproar, splashing and then disappearing, over and over again.
More chickens appeared from around back, running, clucking and pecking at one another.
The first thing I thought of was Dracula (1931). Renfield’s big scene:
“Ratssssss! Thousands of themmmmm…. MILLIONS of themmmmm!”
Then, I remembered a Bill Engvall bit about “free range chickens”: Something about “the great herds of chickens that used to roam these lands.” I giggled to myself.
“Bill Engvall should see this,” I said out loud… to the cats, I guess.
Sam climbed up onto my printer (which sits just below the window to the right of my desk) and smooshed his chubby little face against the opened blinds and window glass, still meh-ing and revving his purr engine. He was drooling.
Mikey popped up with her head beneath Sam’s, her back paws still on the floor (she is thin enough to get between the wall and the printer; Sam is not). Her mouth hung open. She was drooling, too, and so enthralled with the scene outside that she didn’t even slap Sam for drooling onto her forehead. We may have looked like a totem pole.
The cats weren’t just watching the chickens. Now they were watching all of the neighbourhood cats that were slinking along the perimeter of the property, stalking the chickens.
“Oh, my God,” I said. “The Great Chicken Massacre!”
I was trying to think of what, if anything, I could do to stop the slaughter that was surely coming when the dogs showed up. BIG dogs. Where the hell did all of these dogs come from?
“Holy shit!” I said, closing the blinds and removing my cats from the window area. “You guys don’t need to see this.”
Should I call the police? Animal Control? Where the hell is my phone, anyway?
Then I heard someone pulling into the driveway and beeping their horn. I slipped some fingers into the blinds and peeked.
The chicken truck.
The new coffee maker beeped: Ken remembered to program it before he went to sleep. I ran into the kitchen, cats following me, and poured myself a nice hot cup of coffee. I ran back out into the front room, and sat in the chair to the left of my desk; the cats accompanied me, front paws resting on the sill. I lifted the blinds and the three of us watched, mouths open.
Two men jumped out of the truck. One man chased off some of the dogs; the other man began filling cages with chickens… the chickens that had not been torn apart by the cats and dogs. Some of the cats ran, and that got rid of pretty much all of the dogs… but a few cats – scrawny, stray-looking ones – stayed and feasted.
It became a bit quieter, as the cages were loaded up onto the truck and covered with what looked like old blankets.
As the truck backed out, Doug McKenzie, the largest of our beavers, jumped up onto the edge of the pond. He made some kind of squeaking noise, and I swear to God, it looked like he raised a fist toward the truck.
I laughed. HARD.
Sam and Mikey did not look so amused.
I promised to roast a chicken tonight, and share it with them.