My Chicken on the Grill

Here’s the full story. Our Black Lab, “Lucy” killed an old lady’s hen while on a walk. In horror, I offered to buy her another hen. She replied: “You dang well better.” (We live in Appalachia). I bought three chicks at the local farm supply store assuming at least one would die. All lived and grew to be demanding adults, thus “the old hen saying”. I named them: Lack, Luster and Mo. The lady who’s chicken my mischievous Lab killed sadly died of heart disease during the chicken raising time. We ended up with 3 demanding hens. Luster was bitten by a Copperhead and died after laying only three unfertilized eggs, thus ending her genetic line. Mo disappeared into the woods around the time a Bobcat was hanging around the house at night. She was never seen again. This broke my heart because I had grown quite fond of her subtle peeps. Lack remained and bonded with our Lab, “Lucy”, creating a sort of armistice, and also with the Great Pyrenees “Katie” otherwise know as “Madam Katie Snow” and our mutt Skippy.
Lack enjoyed her teenage years (in chicken terms of course), standing on Lucy’s head (the original chicken killer but now a loyal friend of the hen’s) while she dug in the warm summer earth in search of doggy muse. When Lucy would find a worm Lack would jump from her perch and grab the worm. Lucy found redemption for her sins and Lack found a fulfilling dinner mixed with multi-species bonding. She grew more to believe she may be a dog that happens to lay eggs rather than an avian creation. Lack would say things like: “Braucccck” to Lucy when she layed an egg, at times taunting her hunger. (No, this is not a lesbian relationship but rather a bonding of familial souls). Lucy, only when very hungry in thought of the human family’s need for breakfast, would gently crack and lap the contents of an egg on occasion. She would then smooth Lack’s feathers in a caressing expression of love with her tongue. They had become the best of friends.
Skippy and Katie felt jealous at times because Lucy, a pack member, had included Lack as one of them without approval but they soon accepted her realizing that not only a dog can be courageous and brave. Lack taunted the Bobcat with courage. It would stalk her in the twilight hours thinking it could outwit a mere bird. It was wrong. Lack would allow the killer of her sister to approach seemingly unaware and peck at the ground with indifference. When the cold hunger of deception came near, Lack would fly high into the air far out of reach. The beast would be denied a meal and grew weaker over the months due to hunger. Lucy, Skippy and Katie always stood close to defend Lack but just far enough to allow her birdhood and possibly caninehood. She had in fact, qualified as a pact member to all who were concerned.
The summer was kind and gentle to both dog, chicken and human as warm summer breezes brought good things of comfort from earth and sky. Lacks home had become an all inclusive family, a place of peace for all whom dwelled on the small plot of land. The humans grew to love Lack during the summer with all of the same familial emotions of the pack, they were after all a part of the pack whether knowing it or not.
Soon the warm greens of summer turned to the cool breezes brought forth by the reds, oranges and yellows of fall. A deeper peace fell on the home of animal and mortal as all secretly contemplated commitment to each other in order to survive the chilling reality of a mountain winter. This would be Lacks first sub zero experience. Lucy seemed to pay more attention to Lack as the first frost and howling winds changed the once kine earth. She looked concerned.
The snows of November came strong and cold. As the humans celebrated in thanks of those who forged the land long before them, Lack remain just a chicken in their eyes. They loved her but felt her place was in the coop due to the egg sized poops she frequently laid at will. She was just a beloved pet in their eyes. The humans fed and watered her daily along with providing a warm nest of hay when needed, but what she really desired from them and her pack was the warm affection they had shown in summer. She perched sad and alone in the bitter winds of without. With love for them all her family filled her but the affection was only returned as brief thought from within the warm and safe home. She longed for Lucy, Katie, Skippy and the humans but alas wasn’t potty trained. She rested alone in her coop making only an occasional cluck or soft “Brucccck” hoping for even a silent thought of her in response. She felt shunned and banished from those she loved the most. Her tender heart was broken and her will to sustain in the increasingly icy cold of winter was failing.
The dark, gray winter mornings would come and go. Lucy frequently ran to Lack when the humans let her out. She would lay on the ground wagging her tail as Lack snuggled against her in a loving bond. The humans would feed her quickly with an all too quick word then return to the warm fire inside. Lack longed for them all to feel her pain, but in the freezing time, cold loneliness was more often her only companion. December came and past then January’s brutal, deep snows. Lack was still shunned. The humans looked out to her as she pecked the snow wishing for warm days of Lucy and worms in the dirt. They wished they knew how to potty train her so she too could enjoy the warm comfort of the fire inside but, alas, she was a chicken and continued to lay egg sized poops. One day the human father trudged through the crusted snow to feed and water her but she was nowhere in sight. He called for Lucy who sniffed around the yard to no avail. Lucy whined and the human sighed feeling quite guilty. “I could have cleaned up her poops” he thought. “Oh Lack, where are you?” A week, then two passed with no sight of her. Sadness fell on the home.
Six weeks had passed and Lack was still missing. The home had been quite forlorn during the grieving time for the smallest member of the family. The human father noticed Bobcat tracks often in the snow and was sure that Lack had become a winter meal. “Summer just won’t be the same without her pecking in the yard” he thought with mixed feelings of guilt and longing. Finally a rare warm day fell on the high mountain home and the snows began to melt. The human father swept the slush from the deck on the side of the house. A soft “Brauuck” sounded from under the deck. Lucy, who always accompanied the human father when sweeping slush, suddenly perked up her ears and gazed at the human. He looked back at her with a pounding heart. “Can it be true girl?” Lucy barked loudly then listened with an intensely cocked ear. “Brauuuuck” sounded again from under the deck but this time slightly louder. Lucy and the human father ran under the deck and called with great hope in their hearts. “Lack, Lack are you there?” the human called. “Woof, woof, woof” Lucy called because as everyone knows dogs can’t talk but rather only bark and whine. At first just a yellow beak poked out from far under the deck then the bright red of a crest showed. Lucy ran under the boards and barked loudly (remember, dogs can’t talk but only bark).
Lucy chased her feathered sister into the open, barking loudly and whimpering with soul felt joy. The human father rushed to Lack. She was soaking wet with slush blanketing her feathers. She had fallen quite frail in the freezing time. Lucy looked at the human with wide and pleading eyes. “Don’t worry girl. We’ll bring her inside where it’s warm and dry.” They rushed her to the mud room of the house and placed her tenderly on a shelf. The humans and dogs all surrounded her in celebration of life, togetherness and redemption. They were truly a family again, whole in each other. They fed and watered her everyday, but more importantly visited often because love is what Lack needed the most. The human father cleaned up egg sized poops daily in the mud room with joy vowing never again to forget the smallest member of the family. Winter passed and the tiny green buds of spring finally appeared. Lack and Lucy once again chased worms and taunted Bobcats together with joy. They would spend long hours just laying in the warm grass in a silent sharing of affection for each other. Lack found that the grill was warm in the sun and perched on it at night. It was high and safe. It was near the door so the humans could pet her as they came and went. They did pet her often, softly and kindly. They would never forget her needs again. Lack continues to live and love and be loved to this very day. That is the story of Lack, “The chicken on the grill.” May we all find such great blessings through the hardships of our lives. The End.

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