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Home Country

Laying Eggs
By Slim Randles
Apr 22, 2005 - 12:41:00 PM

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Irma has it figured out. She's a bona fide, egg-laying member of the "Production Red" hen sorority and she knows her rights.

This is really remarkable when you consider the braincase of your average barnyard chicken is wedged between some feathers and those big expressionless eyes and has about the same capacity for rational thought as that of an amoeba. But somehow this hen of mine has figured it out.

The sunlight triggers it, I believe. Sequential logic.

When the daylight comes enough to make out the outline of the house, Gunsil (the rooster) starts telling the world how wonderful he is. When the sun hits the house, The Guy Who Takes Away the Eggs comes out and puts food in the dish. When it gets dark, it's time to go back in the henhouse, better known as "Home."

She doesn't get fooled by artificiality the way Gunsil does. We've learned that a midnight visit to the bathroom is fine as long as you don't turn on the light. If the light switch goes on, out comes Gunsil from his hen-pecked existence and he begins telling the world it's time to get up and start laying.

If a person were to have several cups of coffee before bedtime, the result the next morning is a bedraggled, exhausted, confused rooster who is mad enough to want to whip the neighbor's German shepherd.

It's almost worth it.

But Irma isn't fooled by light coming through the bathroom window. She waits for the real thing. Daylight. The sun. The sun's rays slowly slide down the walls of the house until they hit the bricks of the patio. When the bricks are illuminated by the morning light, she waits exactly 17 seconds for The Guy Who Takes Away the Eggs to emerge with scratch and laying mash. Then she goes to work.

Buoyed by a sense of feminine assertiveness and egged on by an empty crop, she strides across the yard, across the patio bricks, up to the very gates of House itself, the sliding glass doors. Then Irma pecks at the glass until T.G.W.T.A.T.E. emerges with breakfast.

There aren't a lot of perks to being a chicken. One must insist on the few one has.

Brought to you by "Raven's Prey." See it at www.alaskafiction.com.


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