Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Chicken massacre!

So, a few years ago I wrote a book, Star Struck. It's my only attempt at YA and I find it hilarious (I wrote it, so I better love it, right?) In the book there is a chicken massacre that takes place in the book where raccoons get access to the chicken coop and execute poultry-cide, killing and dismembering a whole bunch of chickens. The next day the book characters had to clean up the chicken parts left behind.

At the time I wrote this book, I had just begun my chicken-raising years, and didn't know if this was really plausible. It seemed like it was, but I didn't know for sure--hence, why I write fiction. I've since realized that raccoons hibernate during the months this event was written to have taken place. But despite that, I'd wondered if the massacre itself could have truly occurred. I've lost a chicken here and there to raccoons, but would they really kill numerous chickens all at once?

Yes, in fact they will.

I got a batch of bantam (smaller super-cute chicken breeds) chicks in April, and all but three were dead in a few days from some kind of illness they'd caught before coming to me. So I bought eight more standard (regular sized chickens--not so cute) and all of them survived. I kept them all together in the garage for the first month, then moved them out to the coop where they have been for the last two months. Everyday I got out and tell them how cute they are and how lucky they are to live in the Best-little-henhouse-in-Willard. I love my chickens. While waiting for them to be big enough to be introduced outdoors, I've been painstakingly working on my chicken run--trying to raccoon proof it and make it fully contained so my chickens don't free range anymore. I've spent hundreds of dollars and many many hours doing this. And on Monday, I finally let the chickens out. They were so happy, scratching and playing and enjoying the sunshine. It was a great day and I was one happy chicken mama.

And then, sometime Monday night raccoons found a way into my coop. Tuesday, I noticed I couldn't see the chickens moving around and when I went outside to check, I found a chicken foot . . . then a head . . . and so on and so forth. I had to hurry and clean up the mess before my kids saw it, but it was horrible. Feathers were everywhere, carcasses were strewn all over the place. One poor chicken had survived, but he is scared to death of everything. I've found some more chickens I'll be picking up tomorrow, and I'll be spending a good deal of time fortifying my run AGAIN, but it was an awful day and not something I ever want to repeat.

It's not very often that research happens in reverse--write it and then it happens, and quite frankly I hope it never happens again. I've written about some really lousy circumstances in my book--far worse than mutilated chickens. I really don't want to find out the hard way if those are possible too.


Michele Holmes said...

I'm so sorry about your chickens, but I have to say that the scene you spoke of from Star Struck, remains in my mind as one of the most hilarious I've ever read. I laughed until I cried---and I still remember how funny it was several years later. Unfortunately, I imagine it wasn't so funny when you were on clean up---esp. with no handsome movie star to help :( Good luck with the new ones.

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Wow...that is beyond bizarre!

ali cross said...

Oh Josi, I'm so sorry. You put so much work and love into those little guys. A case of life imitating art, right?

Tristi Pinkston said...

You are freaking me out, Josi -- please tell me that not all of your plots are going to start coming to life. That would just be so very awful. They're great fun to read about, but wouldn't be so great to experience for one's self.

Anna Maria Junus said...

Okay, one more reason for me not to get chickens.

Anonymous said...

wow, it's like you were the "pre-cogs" in the movie "minority report" -- those who were able to see the murder before it happened. freaky. so sorry your little guys (gals i mean) were killed. you sounded so happy talking about them. k