What are ya, Chicken?

After tucking Lydia in and finishing the nighttime routine of praying and singing, I began the usual series of evening duties – laundry, in particular – and settled in for some good mind-numbing television. That’s when I witnessed the “Natural History of the Chicken”. Yes, chickens. In HD, even.

Because one of our children (Elvis) discovered the glowing blue button on the cable box, and because one of our children (Elvis) also likes to gnaw on the remote, it takes a few minutes or longer for our remote to function properly. It will turn on the TV and turn down the volume, but to change the channel or pull up the TV guide, you have to crawl across the living room floor and physically press the up and down buttons on the cable box. You have to crawl, because this is the most physical representation of how frustrating it is to not have a functioning remote. Or you could try to make the remote work like my husband, who hovers five feet from the TV repeatedly pushing buttons on the remote and nearly launching it at the set. Maybe, just maybe, if you gradually migrate closer to the television pressing buttons, it will work.

Left with these two options, I am more likely to sit and watch whatever was last on the television than to battle. PBS happened to be on earlier (big surprise), and much to my fascination and wonder, someone made a documentary about a chicken named Liza. At first, I thought perhaps I should be recording this. Lydia would LOVE it. I smiled to myself and continued hunting for matching socks.

But as the old farmer narrator shared the tale of Liza, the chicken who was intimidated by the rest of the coop’s egg-laying capacities until a separate coop was built, I was captivated. This funny looking chicken laid six eggs in her Westin-coop and waited for them to hatch. It was really lovely, actually, and impressive videography.

I resumed folding shirts and mini-panties. Thinking the story over, I considered the remote, waiting patiently for instructions. But the narrator continued his story, and the next thing I knew, the chickens were scattering. They all retreated to some really great hiding spot, and the video flashed to a hawk high in the sky. And then something funny happened. Liza came out. In the middle of the yard were six chicks… her six chicks. She trotted out, in the presence of the enemy, and spread her wings for the chicks. She landed on the grenade, kind of. The video reenacted the hawk diving down to grab the chicken. And the narrator said, “Greater love hath no one…”

The chicken actually lived, and so did all of the chicks. But how about that? How about a chicken – a chicken – risking its own neck for its young. That might have to happen someday.

The best part of the show, though, was when the narrator closed with, “From now on, I am proud to be called, ‘chicken.'” Classic.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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