Fowl tales leave a foul taste in my mouth

by Ken Carpenter

There is a pecking order in the food chain that supposedly has humans at the top because they will either eat or brutalize every other living thing. The fact that human beings can be taken out by the lowest organism in existence, mindless bacteria, does not count. Nor does the fact that almost every life form has at one time or another either damaged a person or found them to be a tasty addition to their diet.
We make the lists so we get to be considered the king of beasts, and if the lions don’t like it they can take us to court. I have it on good authority that even the smartest lion cannot understand a legal brief. I can’t either, but that is unimportant.
The pecking order participant I am currently concerned with is the chicken, who invented the pecking order. While they could be known as the chief peckers of the world, they are so far down on the list that only bugs are below them. Bugs and me, but more on that later.
Chickens are food, period. They live to eat and be eaten. It was their bad luck that evolution made them delicious no matter how you cook them. Any way except rare that is, or smothered in black licorice sauce. Gag!
Somewhere along the line people decided that it wasn’t enough to eat chickens, they had to humiliate them as well. Anyone showing cowardly tendencies became known as a chicken, for reasons unknown. Chickens don’t seem especially cowardly to me, but weasels don’t seem especially sneaky either so maybe I am a poor judge.
When I was a kid my family would raise 100 chickens every year. I was not overly fond of the breed, for they were horrible bullies to the less fortunate of their tribe. Few things in the world are more sinister than the look in the eye of a chicken as he pecks on his retarded little brother.
They got their just desserts on head chopping day, which was primarily an exercise in misery for all of us as well. It was especially bad for my little sister, who seemed to have been born with a built-in headless chicken magnet installed in her ass. I still can’t help chuckling at the memory of her fearsome shrieks as she raced around the yard with a beheaded pullet dodging her every step. How they did it I have no idea, but it happened more than once.
Now is the moment I have been dreading, for it is time to establish my own rating on the pecking order list.
My job entails roaming around the county visiting places where I am rarely welcome or invited. By neither man nor beast, I might add.
A few years ago I was attacked by a psychotic duck, which did little for my self-esteem but a great deal for the amusement of my co-workers. Quack quacks became common around the office, but I refused to lend dignity to their fowl taste by responding to it.
Recently I had another fowl encounter as I roamed around a strange barnyard. The first clue I had that something could be amiss was when the most sickening cock-a-doodle-doo in history erupted from the corner of the barn. It sounded like a goat puking, and if you haven’t heard that I pray you never do.
I eyeballed the melodiously challenged perpetrator of the awful crow, afraid it may be some duck-rooster mutant. It wasn’t, so I tried to ignore it as it followed me at a distance and continued to assault my ears with that awful caterwauling.
I crossed a dirt road to measure the last building and was writing down a note when the feathered fiend with the deformed vocal cords decided he could no longer tolerate my presence. With an uncharacteristic silent rush he launched himself into the back of my legs, pecking and flapping his wings like he was possessed by a demon.
I cut loose a less than manly hoot of dismay, and it took a monumental display of restraint to avoid soiling myself on the spot. Using my clipboard as a defensive barrier I retreated from the barnyard, stalked by the victorious bully all the way to the gate.
So at least for a while you can find me somewhere on the pecking order between chickens and bugs.
One positive thing emerged from the fiasco though. I solved the age-old question of “Why did the chicken cross the road?”.
He crossed it to kick my butt.

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