Death by chicken

Saving Elmo 6: Wheelchair musings

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It’s like a horror movie: You walk into your chicken coop and roosters attack, spurs and beaks shredding your jugular like carnitas, killing you deader than Kentucky Fried.

Apparently this can happen if you have chickens. Kinda makes Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds look like a Sunday afternoon in the park with Tweetie.

Mom’s friend Marla, who comes every week to clean her house and chat, told me this as she was polishing the kitchen counter. I’d offered to help, but wheelchairs come with this built-in raygun that turns able-bodied folk into zombieslaves who say stuff like, “Nonsense, you just sit right there and let ME do all the work!”

OK. If you insist.

Docs say I can’t put weight on my busted leg until probably Christmas, so I’ve added a wheelchair named Marilyn to my entourage. Life in the wheeled lane does have its advantages:

Guaranteed safety. Wheelchairs are safe havens from falling and other nasty stuff that, oh, I dunno, MIGHT BREAK YOUR LEG. My wheelchair is my guardian angel. She’s not much to look at and she has the turning radius of a dump truck, but I don’t care. We’re in love.

Mom, reading this over my shoulder, reminds me that our romance is only temporary…”We’re renting that wheelchair ramp by the month!”

New job skill. A wheelchair lets you feel EVERY LAST change in elevation as you roll along. I always thought the floor in Mom’s house was, you know, a floor. Flat. But noooooo; it’s got more peaks and valleys than the Rocky Mountains.

The dining room slopes back toward the fireplace. The front hall zooms up as you approach the laundry room, slips down as you move into Mom’s bedroom, and from there it’s a hands-free slide into the master bath.

“Now how will I ever sell this house when people read that?” says Mom.

If I ever lose my dayjob, Marilyn and I can probably get work mapping the contours of canyons for the US Geological Survey or something.

Icemakers. My house is called “Inaccessibility Central,” by most of the physical therapists who’ve seen it, so Marilyn and I are holed up at Mom’s. Mom (of course) makes up for the semi-sorta homelessness by just being Mom, but also by having one of those icewater-in-the-door dispensers in her fridge.

Marilyn and I pull up to it like a drive-in and make SNOWCONES, full of temptingly crunchy icebits.

…much to the chagrin of my dentist. “It wasn’t enough, losing that last tooth to cornnuts? Or the one before that to Jujubes? Now you’re chewing ICE? You are sending my hypothetical kids to college. Keep it up,” she warned, “And you won’t have a tooth left in your head.”

I refrained from reminding her that, once toothless, I would no longer bear the considerable financial burden of her dental bills. Still, she has a point.

Cut down on ice chips. Check.

Built-in seating. Everyone else has to pull up a chair. Not us wheelchaired folk; wherever we are is reserved seating. With footrests.

Mom’s set up a little workspace for me, with my laptop and phone and such, right next to the kitchen. Marilyn and I wheel up, settle in, and in between PT and OT sessions, chip away the hours doing information architecture stuff.

Which is what I’m doing while Marla’s polishing the counter and talking chicken. She tells me her kids just moved to Japan for a job, so she’s added their chickens into her own little chicken family.

Apparently this is a chickenworld faux pas, because chickens are vastly, incredibly territorial. (Did you know this?) Dump strange chickens into your herd (or flock or whatever), and those chickens wind up on the home chickens’ lunch menu.

You’d think, seeing a bunch of available cute hens, the rooster would run interference for them with his harem, but nope: The hens overrule him and attack. Marla separates new and old chickens with (naturally) chicken wire, and will put up with their taunts and riots for a whole month (or more) before the resident chickens relax and accept their new buddies.

For some reason I find this fascinating, so I start researching on Google, find this picture. Remind you of anyone? (I photoshopped it a bit to give you a hint)


Political issues clarified when I saw this; Trump-as-rooster makes a lot more sense.

Think about it: His wall to keep out the new chickens. Grabbing all the corn for himself. Weird hair that springs up like a cockscomb. The wattle. Loud squawking at embarrassing moments. And all. those. chicks.

Just when you think US politics couldn’t get any crazier, they nominate a chicken. If I were Mr. Trump, I’d stay away from Sunday dinners.

Otherwise, he could go the way of my friend Tami’s rooster. She raised him from an egg, beautiful little guy who grew up big and strong and meaner than a rattlesnake with a stepped-on tail.

He reached roosterhood, and she started showing up with divots and scars. “I turned my back for a second and he jumped me,” she fumed, “I just don’t know what I’m going to do with him.”

“Might I suggest breading and frying?”

That got me The Look. “You CLEARLY don’t understand,” she declared, “The bond between a chicken and its human.”

Maybe not. I may have a mild phobia about our feathered friends, seeing as how they’re actually slavering, vicious dinosaurs in disguise, aiming to turn us into animated buffet dining (really, guys, didn’t you watch Jurassic Park?).

My first childhood ornithological encounter was with Grandma’s parrot, who could snatch an inch-square area of my scalp bald in about 2 nanoseconds. “Don’t let her swallow your hair!” Grandma would cry in alarm, “It might hurt her!”

I used to dream of that bird, served on a platter with a little stuffing and maybe some green beans.

Or ducks, which LOOK all cute and cuddly, but apparently are evil personified in the privacy of their own ponds. Ducks are evolutionary rapists, according to ZeFrank. (Go look up True Facts about the Duck on YouTube if you don’t believe me)

No more watching the sweet little ducks on the wildlife refuge at work, quacking and clucking away. Now I know their real agenda.

Maybe Trump’s really a duck. Pretending to be a rooster.

The Saving Elmo series is about my adventures in recovery after crashing to the ground with an “open, comminuted fracture of the left femoral shaft,” which is a polite way of saying I busted my leg. If you want to delve into this, try these posts:



  1. Brenda October 22, 2016 at 6:52 am - Reply

    We raised a chick, named her Tiffany, and she turned out to be he. We thought it might be resentment over the name (which stuck), but he was the meanest attack bird! He ended up given to a French friend who also raised chickens, and turned into coq au vin.

  2. ellen abbott October 21, 2016 at 7:31 am - Reply

    chickens…yeah. little dinosaurs, raptors I think. my sister called them the borg. she tried to add new hens to her small flock. the old ones stopped attacking the new ones but they never integrated. the old flock claimed the coop with the nesting boxes at one end of the chicken run and she had to put up a tent at the other end with hay and nesting boxes for the new hens. roosters can be nasty. a friend took in an unwanted rooster and when he charged her with talons flashing, once he wasn’t looking, she snatched that bird up and wrung his neck.

  3. kathryncecelia October 20, 2016 at 10:54 pm - Reply

    As always I delight in your prose. When you spoke of your wheelchair, it called up that today is the day they picked up my rent-by-the-month wheels. You haven’t mentioned if you have callouses on your palms. It only took about 10 days for me to get them. I think it was from breaking on downward slopes. I suppose you’ve noticed all manner of strangers willing to help you get somewhere. I went to an Urban Sketchers meet in my wheelchair and after sketching for a few hours we went to a local restaurant; I was pushed by a nice woman from Portland. (Maybe she’ll see you and help you, too.)

    Anyway. I did know that “hen pecked” had it’s roots in the barnyard. As does “pecking order”. It would seem that these fowls have a penchant for beak-violence. I was entertaining the idea of a few fowl for fresh eggs, but this makes me rethink the idea; well, and that you need to be around to tend them all the time. You are on my to-visit-list… so think about what you might enjoy from “up north”. I’ll see what I can do. Take care to do just what they tell you. (I know you already know that, but my pedantic self had to say it.) My PT today said, “That’s all I’ve got for you today.” as he sent me off after abusing me for an hour… not fun, but I suppose necessary. (I still walk with kind of stiff legs… working on it.) I’ll look forward to seeing you in the near future, will PM you.

  4. Diana tillotson October 20, 2016 at 10:28 am - Reply

    So glad you are home (mom’s) and managing for now. Glad you haven’t lost your sense of humor , I look forward to your stories and hope for a speedy recovery.

  5. sunnystrappsunny October 20, 2016 at 7:21 am - Reply

    Hi C. Nice story. You have a spelling error, probably due to all those drugs drugs drugs. It is ” Donaldt Rump “. The ‘mericans seem to go big with misnomers, and yall have one there. Rump is his family’s handle. It is Hungaro-Bulgarian in origin. (Google that one to be sure). I don’t remember exactly if I gleanedt this from FrankZ or not. But…

    To get usedt to using the correct pronunciation, I suggest repetition excercises. 60 times Donaldt. 60 times Rump. Alternate 6 times daily. Don’t forget to accentuate the T at the endt of Donaldt. If this doesn’t help, you might increase your level of consciousness by adding a T to all words that have a final D. If this doesn’t attract a lot of attention from your environment, try it using a falsetto voice. Get loudt if it makes you feel better. If ya give it all ya got, I bet you can make it to CNN.

    Hugs from North Africa,
    ps. gave ya a break…no poetry


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