The Unwise Demise of Angelina Stormchicken

It’s been a busy March and April!

I’ll try to blog about a few of this spring’s exciting life events and updates, to catch everyone up on the incredible world of me. First newsworthy event:

Fly the baby border collie murdered Angelina, the Silver Wyandotte chicken. This was partly due to tragic chicken coop structural failure and partly due to the fact that Fly believes you should approach every problem as savagely as you can possibly manage. Toys? SHRED THEM! Jet? BITE HIS FACE! Sheep? BITE THEIR FACES TOO! Neighbor dog minding its own business? COMPLETELY LOSE YOUR SHIT! Unsupervised chicken? DESTROY HER!

This post contains curse words and vomit. You have been warned. 

Anyway, Fly is only a puppy, and that’s just what carnivores do. I wouldn’t expect any different from Indy or Jet, it just happened to be that Fly got to Angelina first. All the dogs are pretty good about not actually breaching the walls or fencing of the chicken coop (something else is tearing holes in it though, more on that later), and the true instrument of Angelina’s grisly demise was Weather.

The first thing you have to understand there is that we live in California, where weather is something that happens to other people, like meteor strikes or cholera. Getting a storm is uncommon, and we don’t entirely know what to do about them, as evidenced by the fact that Josh and I reacted to the stormy day by traveling to the library on our way home from Ojai. There were books to be returned, and time and tide and library fines wait for no man. Given that we are people who have structured our lives around the willingness to pay nine dollars for two coffees, you wouldn’t think a ten cent library fine is that big of a deal, but it’s the principle of the thing. We don’t want the library to think poorly of us. So we went out in an incredible deluge of rain, biblical amounts of rain. This was not American rain, this was rain like you expect from lush green countries with spicy food and upsettingly fierce invertebrates. Josh pulled his car in through the book drop drive through, and noticed belatedly that he was on the wrong side of the car to access it. “Fuck,” he said. Josh can convey an incredible range of emotions and intentions in that particular four-letter-word, and this one was solidly disgruntled.

“Oh my god,” I said, helpfully. “It’s raining!” Josh can attest to the fact that I make a lot of these helpful comments in a wide variety of contexts.

“Fuck,” he repeated. Disgruntled, and resigned.

“It’s raining a lot,” I said. Helpful.

“Fuck!” Resigned, but gathering determination. Josh summoned his courage, which was drawn forth from the knowledge that he only had a few more seconds left before I chirpily offered to drop the books off myself. This would have been an unacceptable result, as in Josh-Paradigm, there is no point at which you remain dry and allow your woman to get Rained Upon unless you are missing more than one of your appendages, hooked up to intravenous sedatives, or saving an infant from demons. So he gathered up the books and darted out into the storm, while I sat inside the car, torn between fretting over my damp boyfriend and feeling profound relief that it wasn’t me out there using my frail human body to shelter books against the storm. He managed it admirably, and got back into the car in record time, but still soaked. “FUCK!!” Filled with the grumpiness that only rain-spotted glasses can bring out in a person, yet, victorious.

We hurried home as fast as the storm would allow, anxious to reach our sanctuary, only to find upon entering that something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong. Our house goes through various states of cleanliness to be sure, but it doesn’t normally smell like the exposed digestive tract of the shambling undead. It was a warm, wet, meaty smell, heavy with rain and bile. If the need to vomit had a smell, it would be this smell.

“OH GOD,” I croaked, “Fly threw up all over her crate.”

Josh didn’t even need to say ‘fuck’ this time, he just gagged and communicated it through the despair in his eyes, or at least what I could see of his eyes through the rain drops on his glasses. I decided to take pity on him, and jump on the situation so that his formidable sense of chivalry didn’t have to labor under rain storms and puppy vomit in the same evening. “It’s OK, I’ll clean it up,” I volunteered, and set about not-improving the smell by spraying the crate with orange-scented cleaner and scooping the vomit into a bag. Something about that vomit, other than the obviously horrifying texture, appearance, and smell, gave me pause and a sinking feeling. “Fly ate something,” I gasped. “I think she ate a chicken.”

Josh had clearly had enough Shit Gone Wrong for the day, and tried to will reality into a different direction. “No,” he insisted. “It must have been a gopher or something.”

“I think it was a chicken,” I insisted, and grimly gathered up my bag of warm, meaty puppy vomit to take it out to the trash, in the rain.

On my way back in, I decided to check on the coop, and discovered to my extreme displeasure that the storm had knocked down an enormous tree branch, which then landed on the chicken coop and created an enormous hole. I counted the chickens… only five chickens! The sinking feeling grew worse, and upon further inspection, I did indeed find a sodden, feathery blob not far from the coop. Clearly, Angelina had noticed the hole in the coop and picked right then to develop an unprecedented sense of adventure, leading to her escape and Fly’s best day ever.

Everyone who keeps backyard chickens loses one to something at some point, so I wasn’t entirely surprised, but it was still a sad feeling to lose one, particularly my favorite and prettiest chicken (although also one of the unfriendliest). When people lose dogs or cats, there’s often a grieving period afterwards, a desire for some distance before a new pet comes home. Maybe I’m just heartless, but the chicken didn’t evoke that in me, and I admit that by the time I was inside the house washing my hands and listening to Josh declare “That’s fucking sick,” I already knew what I had to do next. The desire burned strong in me, compelling, unquenchable: I must acquire more chickens.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Chicken Acquisition.

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