Beryl’s Chicken Diary. (End)

(This is the last entry!!)

Read from the beginning HERE.

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DAY NINETEEN

100% chance.

 

It rained all night.

All morning.

All afternoon.

And it’s still raining.

Passing cars splash baby tidal waves and rain gutters pour waterfalls.

You know the sound.

The girls are huddled together, dry under the porch awning, waiting it out.

Not me.

The back garden is a thousand shallow pools, growing deeper by the second. And I’m running back and forth, splashing. Sinking into soft, fresh mud.

Clucking.

Carpeing this diem.

I feel the girls watching, a little concerned.

Chickens.

Some creatures hide from weather; others delight in it.

I am variety B.

And so are my humans, blaring Indian music with the doors open wide.

Sometimes you gotta act a little crazy to feel sane.

And today sanity is dirty feet, grey skies, wet feathers, and secure knowledge that I got first dibs on all the worm action tomorrow.

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Is that Beryl in the compost?

 

                      

DAY TWENTY

roaches and biscuits

 

Heck ya that’s me in the compost!

Jenkins gave me the stink eye I was in there so long, but truth be told I’m feeling a little feisty.

Maybe because my toe’s growing back.

Simple things feel magic when they’re new again.

Like nesting and the weighty pull of a forming egg.

The natural order of things.

I like the word order. It means rightful place.

Like me on this roost next to my sister.

G’night, Beryl, she coos, her head against mine.

And we were just about asleep when Jennifer screamed so loud the girls shot up like toast.

But I knew better.

Either she saw a roach or popped open some biscuits, I explained calmly. My eyes still closed.

Then we hear a clunka shoe perhaps— and think we know the answer.

Wanda giggles first, then Jenkins.

Then me.

Then Babs, who never laughs at anyone.

Then we squished together.

The four of us sleepy.

The four of us remembering.

You know that sudden bursty feeling when all your happies come back?

That.

 

A moment of silence for Mister Roach

2016-2016.

 

THE LAST DAY

the trill of pleasure

 

I made a brand new noise for my humans today.

A soft warbling trill from the back of my healing throat.

When they look it up on the Google, they’ll find it means

thank you.

I’m happy

I love you.

And life is good.

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My name is Beryl.

I’m a beautiful lady chicken.

And I’m gonna 

I made it.

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3  weeks later, Beryl re-established her dominance.

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Thank you for reading my diary, people humans.

If you like it, I hope you’ll share because that helps Jennifer, who’s pretty okay sometimes.

I wish you the very best things in the world.

 

love, Beryl

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Beryl’s Chicken Diary. (8)

Read from the beginning HERE.

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DAY FIFTEEN

mac-n-cheese

 

This morning I flew out of the tub and waited by the back door. Jennifer smiled super big then let me out with some fresh water and last night’s macaroni and cheese. Ollie came by and sniffed so we shared it. Then we laid in the sun for a long time.

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The other girls watched us, huddled by the gate.

I know what they’re thinking.

They miss the compost.

Well, tough.

I miss my toe.

 

 

DAY SIXTEEN

the most beautiful sister in the world

 

Jennifer unlatched the gate today, letting Wanda in my side of the yard. I know why she did this. She wanted to see how Wanda would treat me. Ollie and I watched her skirt around the gate, looking for a way back in.

Silly hen.

You could tell she wasn’t comfortable being separate from the others —-until she realized the compost was hers for the taking.

She ignored me completely.

Then Jennifer shocked me.

She let Babs in.

Oh dear.

I stood and watched my sister, super nervous.

My wounds aren’t exposed, I thought. 

Nice, hard crusty scabs. Both eyes open.

My feathers and comb need to grow back but I’m still the same ole Beryl, minus one toe.

OhGodhereshecomes.

Babs bypassed the compost, headed straight for me, her expression unreadable.

Please Babs. 

I held my breath.

Please don’t hurt me.

My sister crept close.

Examining.

Unsure.

She paused in front of me, cocking her head sideways.

Please don’t hurt me, sister.

I stood real still.

She raised her neck and I cowered low.

But when I opened my eyes, my sister pecked dirt between us, wiped her beak on the ground, then walked away.

SHE

WALKED

AWAY!

See that? I told Ollie, watching Babs settle in her favorite breezy spot by the A/C unit.

She didn’t peck me. 

You can’t see chickens smile. But we do.

We smile on the inside.

She didn’t peck me.

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Continue reading HERE.

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The next entry will be posted in two days.

If you’d like instant notification, you can sign up to follow this blog.

When you’re reading about me, you’re probably not worrying about the news.

So that’s good.

love, Beryl

 

 

Beryl’s Chicken Diary. (7)

Read from the beginning HERE.

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DAY THIRTEEN

Ollie

Jennifer put me outside for a long time today.

I don’t want her to forget she’s a chicken! she declared, which is the dumbest thing I ever heard.

If she spent ten days outside, would she forget she’s human?

Christopher says she never forgets anything, so I guess the answer is no.

If you’re wondering how I managed outside safe from fair-feather Jenkins, I’ll tell you.

Alongside our coop, Christopher built a wire fence with a swinging gate that when closed, divides the garden in two. 

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He said it would protect half the garden from our appetites, whatever that means — but I say it was a fortuitous decision considering my current predicament.

Jennifer closed the gate so I was separate and safe then put me on the ground.

O frabjous day!

The sun felt delicious on my air-conditioned feathers! I walked a little funny on account of my missing toe, but sinking my nails in the hot dry dirt —well— that’s a beautiful sensation I barely have words for. Maybe a toaster feels the same when it’s plugged in.

I took a long dirt bath to clear away mites, picked around the ivy, then sat on the porch next to Ollie, the old lady cat my humans adopted a few months back. Ollie remembers I’m me.

Together we lay in the sun and I feel safe.

Let’s count bees, she suggested.

So we did.

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I like Ollie.

She’s chill like that.

P.S. My feathers are growing back!

Yay me!

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DAY FOURTEEN

movie night

I have a new routine!

Jennifer puts me outside in the morning with my own food and water. Sometimes I make eyes with my sister through the wire fence. I’m not sure what I’d do if she pecked me, so I’m happy to be over here and remember the good ole days.

I can still love her from far away.

Look at my sister. Isn’t she beautiful?

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I used to look like that.

I’m used to being alone now, though ‘alone’ may not be the right word. Ollie keeps me company outside. And humans keep me company inside. At night, Jennifer wraps me in a towel and holds me against her chest.

Sometimes we watch movies.

Last night we watched The Revenant.

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That bear scene reminded me of you-know-what.

My toe looks funny but it doesn’t hurt anymore. Christopher put a plank of wood over the tub so I can perch if I want to.

Did I tell you both my eyes are open now?

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Continue reading HERE.

…………………………………………

The next entry will be posted in two days.

If you’d like instant notification, you can sign up to follow this blog.

Meanwhile,

What did the Mexican farmer say to his hens?

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O lay!

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(Am I too hip for the room?)

love, Beryl

Beryl’s Chicken Diary. (6)

Read from the beginning HERE.

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DAY ELEVEN

trapped

 

Ol’ spider finally trapped some food tonight.

I’m relieved actually, she was looking a little pale.

—still. 

Desperate buzzing is a very sad noise.

That poor fly tried to escape, tangling deeper as she inched close, creeping in such a way, I felt glad to be down here.

I couldn’t watch.

So I listened to thunder instead.

Rain tonight means lots of worms for the girls tomorrow. Makes me jealous, really.

I quite enjoy tub service, but I miss getting my beak dirty.

zzzzzzzzzzzz

Not fair!” Sophia yells, three rooms away. “You never let me—”

A door slams.

Dangit.

I want to hear what they never let her do.

I wish they’d turn on the lights.

The room is dark and the dark clouds are making it darker.

Christopher’s in there hollering about focus! and how many times does nine go into thirty-six!

That’s something we really couldn’t hear outside —arguing.

I don’t like it.

FOUR! Sophia yells, stomping so hard my bathtub trembles.

Ugh.

Thunder outside, thunder inside.

Now rain slaps the window like it’s mad about something.

zzzzzzz  . . . zz

. . . z

I stare at the soap dish.

Maybe she had eggs in the compost, that fly. Maybe she had a sister.

The soap is slivery thin like a waning moon, a single hair its prisoner.

We have a lot in common, me and that hair, trapped in white.

Spider’s over there wrapping her prize and I think about fate.

Maybe life’s divided in two.

One half thinking you know stuff and the other half wishing you didn’t.

I miss my sister.

I miss my old life.

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DAY TWELVE

it

 

Okay, sorry about all that.

Dwelling on the past 

+ 

Feeling sorry for yourself 

= Weakness.

 

I don’t know why that raccoon chose me, but he did. So now I just have to get on with it.

The big, proverbial it.

Tonight the moon’ll chase the sun, and tomorrow a rooster will crow whether we like the noise or not.

And let’s face it.

If that raccoon had gone after Wanda instead of me, there’d be three hens alive right now instead of four.

Chickens will be chickens.

Plus all the worrying would interrupt my healing.

Christopher keeps sighing at me with worried eyes and I’m not having that.

Not after all he’s done.

I heard him say maybe I should be an inside chicken and something about diapers.

If that means what I think it means—

Speaking of inside, I hope they don’t clean the windows.

Spider looks tired today.

Her fly’s all wrapped up like a wooly burrito.

One ambitious wipe and her life would be over.

I tried expressing this on her behalf. But it came out beCAW!

–and made my human jump.

A mistake perhaps.

They like quiet on the toilet.

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Continue reading HERE.

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The next entry will be posted in two days.

If you’d like instant notification, you can sign up to follow this blog.

Meanwhile,

We’re halfway through my diary! If you’ve enjoyed reading, please tell people about me. And share and stuff.

I have moderate vocabulary but big dreams. 

love, Beryl

Beryl’s Chicken Diary. (5)

Read from the beginning HERE.

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DAY NINE

Jennifer’s poor choices

The humans have a girl hatchling, Sophia. She has very busy hands and hair like a bird’s nest. Everyday she sprays me with oil of the tea trees.  She also taps my torn comb with a delicate contraption called a Q-tip.

I enjoy her expression as she does this.

It’s quiet and protective.

Like a closing flower.

I’ve started making small noises again.

Today I managed Thank you, chicklette. My neck doesn’t sting anymore.

It sounded like this:

currrrrcurrrrrcuurrrrr

Sometimes I think she understands me.

I’m feeling quite happy today.

Christopher gave me a nice, warm, salty bath then hand fed me worms — quite different from the fat, wiggly ones outside. These were hard, from a plastic bag and didn’t taste as good. But I like he spent time with me.

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His hands still smell wonderful.

Like milk and tea leaves.

I think she’s ready to go outside! Jennifer announced, watching me fluff my feathers real big. She interpreted this as a sign of strength, but really I was just trying to keep warm.

Chickens —like humans— feel more secure with a leader.

And the way we establish dominance is by pecking. Most times it’s a quick thunk on the head like Hey you weakling! This is my yard, got it? But other times it’s serious. Resulting in blood, injury, and cannibalism.

If it seems brutal, that’s because it is.

Chickens die this way.

All the time.

I have limited facial expressions and even less vocabulary.

I had no way to say I wasn’t comfortable going outside. My scabs were new and paper thin. One little stretch in the wrong direction and they’d rip. And if the girls smelled blood I’d be in serious trouble.

Please don’t take me outside.

But next thing I know, I’m outside.

Placed on the ground where Babs, Wanda, and Jenkins pecked leftover curry.

They stopped eating and looked at me.

Missus Jenkins stretched out her neck to examine mine and I cowered down.

Dang I knew this would happen!

She reared up high and stabbed down HARD, making the other girls scramble. My scabs tore like tissue paper and I tried not to cry, but just imagine someone jabbing a fork in your open wound. I couldn’t help it.

Now imagine it’s your friend.

You’d cry, too.

Jennifer snatched me up fast.

I’m so sorry, Beryl, she whispered, squeezing me tight. I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry. 

She held me awhile then put me back in the tub, but didn’t leave my side.

Jennifer likes books.

Teapots.

Paper and pens.

Songs about yellow submarines.

She knows a little about a lot.

But not about chickens.

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DAY TEN

things that start with j: jerk and Jenkins

 

Missus Jenkins clearly doesn’t remember me protecting her.

When she and Wanda first arrived, they were scrawny little chicks. Scrambling around cheeping. Looking for hiding spots. Babs pecked their heads to establish dominance, but I told her that wasn’t necessary. They were practically babies!

So they followed me around instead.

I showed them the garden— where we eat, drink, and the best spots for sunshine.

Christopher placed them on our roost that first night, then locked us inside.

See? I nudged Jenkins. Isn’t this nice?

But she trembled against the wall.

So I pulled her under my wing.

Because that’s how we comfort each other.

You’re safe, I assured her. This is your home now.

And that’s where she slept for months and months.

Apparently she doesn’t remember that at all.

Now she’s full grown and super bossy.

Look at her.

Acting like she owns the joint.

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Jennifer calls her the Town Crier because she struts around making loud announcements anytime anybody lays an egg.

How do I tell her I’m still me?

Maybe she doesn’t remember.

But I do.

She’s also the only one who gets squirty poops after spicy leftovers.

So there.

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Continue reading HERE.

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The next entry will be posted in two days. 

If you’d like instant notification, you can sign up to follow this blog.

Meanwhile,

Thanks for following along.

I’m glad you’re here.

love, Beryl

Beryl’s Chicken Diary. (4)

Read from the beginning HERE.

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DAY SEVEN

to the bone

 

I’m not mad anymore. Just sore.

And listening to humans is interesting.

I’m learning lots of new words like predator, nocturnalhydrogen, and peroxide.

They’ve also been researching how to make me better. The Google says I must keep clean and hydrated. So today I ate rice and drank electric lights from a small white bowl.

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I feel a little better.

Where did I leave off?

Oh, yes.

The hiding spot.

Sweet Christopher.

A funny look melted on his face when he found me. Like happy and sad at the same time. He picked me up and pulled me close, hollering for Jennifer to open the door and put a towel in the tub. I’ve since learned tubs are where humans wash themselves. I dirty the tub daily so they have to clean it before cleaning themselves.

I don’t get the impression they mind.

My eyes are orange, like pumpkins. Well, one is. The other is swollen shut.

With my good eye, I watched Jennifer examine my neck bone. That’s right, my bone showed. And it must’ve looked gross because she threw a hand over her mouth and looked away.

dirty

infection

pecking 

isolation

They say don’t listen to what people say, that talk is cheap or whatever.

But you and I both know the wrong words from the right people can slice you in two.

Or maybe it’s the right words from the wrong people.

Does it matter?

Hearing’s the only thing I can do right now.

Christopher tried lifting my injured wing, but I let him know it hurt.

I’m so sorry, Beryl, he said, stroking my non-hurty parts, his face sad again.

Christopher’s eyes are green.

Like pine needles.

I wish I understood human language better.

But at least I understand feelings.

I finally felt safe.

So I passed out.

 

 

DAY EIGHT

raw chicken and a spider

 

I spend my days in the bathtub.

It’s nice, as bathtubs go.

This one’s white porcelain with four little feet like monkey toes curling over a ball.

The walls are salmon pink with white wainscot paneling. And I’m not really alone in here.

An old lady spider inhabits a broken web in the small cottage window overlooking the back garden.

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If I stand in the right spot, I can see outside reflected in the gilded mirror above the antique sink.

I’m not ready to see myself.

Instead I watch the spider, slow in old age, except when she’s hungry.

We don’t really speak. But she watches me, too.

When Christopher puts fresh towels under me, she stares at me hard, her expression suggesting a lifetime of struggle.

Jennifer says it smells like raw chicken in here.

And I say she’s ridiculous.

What’s it supposed to smell like? Lasagna? She sticks her head in, sniffs, declares she doesn’t stink! then disappears again.

I know she’s not trying to hurt my feelings.

I cannot say the same for what she does sometimes.

 

 

Stir fry?

I don’t care.

Anything but chicken.

— overheard.

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Continue reading HERE.

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The next entry will be posted in two days. 

If you’d like instant notification, you can sign up to follow this blog.

Meanwhile:

Thank you for taking time to read my story.

There’s high chicken-drama ahead, and ten days to go.

love, Beryl

Beryl’s Chicken Diary. (3)

Read from the beginning HERE.

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DAY FIVE

wee hours

I can’t sleep. I keep waking and wondering where I am.

Then I remember.

The bathtub.

I can’t tell if it’s morning or night or what.

I miss the garden.

The entire back garden is ours. Americana humans call it a yard but Christopher is British variety and calls it a garden so that’s what I call it.

Christopher is my favorite human.

He speaks gently, paints big beautiful pictures, and has a bright shiny head. I like watching him through the back door.

Sometimes I peck on the window to get his attention and he rewards me with bread crust. And sometimes he sits on the steps with a cup of tea and lets me perch on his arm.

That’s my very favorite thing of all.

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Ten paces from the back porch is a magical wonder called the compost bin.

In it, humans toss orange peels, potato peels, carrot peels, onion skins, banana skins, pear cores, apple corps, lemon slices, watermelon rinds, nectarine pits, plum pits, coffee grounds, rotten veggies, egg shells, leftovers, and the occasional used tea bag.

It gets really, really stinky in there.

Especially in summer.

The sun rots that stuff into a hot sludgy mess, attracting flies who hang out and lay eggs. Have you ever seen fly eggs? They look like tiny piles of white rice.

But not for long.

(Here’s where the magic happens!)

24 hours later, those piles turn into maggots.

Which means that everyday —every day!– that

dark

rich

stinky

soil

pulsates with fresh wiggly maggots.

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Fat

delicious

squishy

newborn

maggots.

I feel you judging over there, human person. But please stop.

Maggots are Aprime gourmet dining and positively delectable. (That’s hard to pronounce with an injured beak, by the way, positively delectable.) Sometimes I don’t chomp hard enough and feel them wiggling down my throat. Being boss lady chicken means I eat first, and the others climb in only after I’m full.

Lucky for them I’m nice and there’s plenty.

We also get leftovers. My favorite is rice.

And milk. I LOVE milk.

Oh, and noodles.

love noodles, too.

We spend our days eating, digging, scratching, laying, pulling worms, taking dirt baths, and clucking at the sun. When the sky fades purply blue we hop to our roost and huddle together for sleep, safe behind a locked gate.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I know my humans love me.

I know they didn’t mean to cause me harm.

DAY SIX

have you checked the chickens yet?

My humans didn’t lock us up that night.

They spent the night out —something about not wanting to drink and drive. I’m not sure what that means. But our gate was left wide open and they weren’t here when I got attacked. It’s lucky I screamed so loud.

Jennifer woke up to a scary text.

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I’m grateful for that neighbor lady.

Now you know chickens get saved by the light, too.

My humans rushed home expecting the worst.

About clucking time. 

I watched them from my hiding spot, feeling mad.

They stepped around torn feathers and broken eggs, calling my name with worried voices.

Jennifer bit her nails.

I stayed behind a woodpile. Hurt, mad, scared, and embarrassed. I didn’t want them to see me like this. The other girls were already treating me different —even my sister.

Like they didn’t even know me.

And maybe I felt a little unsafe.

So I hid.

This part makes me sad.

If you don’t mind, I’ll tell you the rest later.

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Continue reading HERE.

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The next entry will be posted in two days.

If you’d like instant notification, you can sign up to follow this blog.

Meanwhile:

Share this with an Animal Protector. Those people are golden.

Shimmery, even.

love, Beryl.