As you know, I am not at Tiny House Ontario at the moment. I am simply in limbo waiting, waiting, waiting for the thaw to come. When the days come up above 12 consistently, I will go.
These days, I fill the hours with painting, reading and writing. Since the new year I have read quite a bit, but for the most part I am concentrating on the life works of the painter/writer Emily Carr. Today, I read the story about her beloved pet rooster Lorum. Emily was not the only one who kept pet poultry when she was a child. I also did.
The chicken came to me when my father’s twin brother Bob saw a cage fall off of a truck load of chickens who were bound for market.
I was about six years old when he came carrying the poor pathetic thing in it’s banged up cage, over to the barn. He told my dad that the poor chicken had fallen hollering and she was still hollering. Dad said to put the hen in the old hen house and he told me to get some grain and water for the creature. It was the first chicken that had been there in my life because my family did not keep chickens anymore. The lovely red chicken coop was simply used as a play house for me. I loved to swing on the roosts.
I followed uncle Bob out with a scoop of grain. I was too small to carry both still, and I was also quite keen to see the chicken arrive in it’s new home. Uncle Bob set it on the ground and said, “well, I guess this is your chicken now”. I was very happy about this. I liked her round gold eyes and the way she looked at me and tilted her head. I liked her red cone and her shiny feathers. Uncle Bob fiddled with the cage while I talked to the chicken. I asked “what is your name little chicken?” ”Buck-Buck” said the chicken.
Buck-Buck was an ordinary white hen, probably a Bantam. She was scrawny and rather beaten up looking from her terrible fall from the truck. But right from the beginning that funny little chicken did not want to leave my side. Everywhere I went, that chicken followed me like a dog. I already had a dog, named Doc, and an orange cat, named Marmalade who followed me. Another fan, who just so happened to be a chicken did not feel funny to me at all. I was simply accustomed to the company of animals.
Girl, dog, cat, chicken. Sometimes I would lead; sometimes I would follow. We were always together. Except, Buck-Buck was not allowed in the house. EVER!
My mother did not like Buck-Buck and did not call her by her name, she preferred to call her “that God-damned lousy chicken”. Still I managed to sneak Buck-Buck, and her lice, into the house from time to time. I would dress that poor chicken in doll clothes, just like I did with my cat and the barn cats too. I would never be able to keep Buck-Buck in for long. I would get caught eventually, because but I was small and I would sometimes forget, or Buck-Buck would say her name just a little too loudly and mom would start hollering. When I got caught, the trio and I would run out of the house to hide from Mom’s wrath, and we would be off on another adventure.
At night, unless I was very sneaky and got Buck Buck in bed with me, I always had to lock her into the chicken house before dark. One night I forgot to do it. I had been having a sleepover next door at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house which was always lots of fun. They always had treats, they paid a lot of attention to me, and spoiled me with their great love. In the morning as soon as I thought of it, I went out looking for old Buck-Buck who was doing a pretty good job at hide-and-go-seek. I called and called the chicken but she would not come out of her hiding spot.
I looked and looked. I ran out into the fields with Doc and Marmalade, we all called Buck-Buck but she never came and she did not answer either. We went a way back into the corn field and Doc led me to a small pile of shiny white feathers.
I ran back to the farm house and told my grandparents, who explained to me that Buck-Buck had probably been eaten by a fox.
Poor Buck-Buck, I said, and I cried for that poor little chicken because I loved her.