Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Chicken Rescue

Here's a moving letter from Katha Sheehan to someone who visited the Chicken Store:

Today I awoke very early, in tears for a rooster I never knew.

Two days ago I met the legendary Nancy Forrester. She has owned since 1969 a plot of land in the heart of Key West that is totally wild, full of big tall tropical trees and ferns and orchids. They call it Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden. In it she has many parrots that have been abused or abandoned, and wound up with her.

She asks people for a $6 donation to visit her garden, but has fallen into arrears on all kinds of payments, and is currently about $400,000 in debt. She despairs of ever getting in the clear. She is a 67-year-old artist, and simply hopes she can keep it together long enough to finish her life on the property, sustaining life and creating beauty.

She also had a partner, but she says he is in the nursing home and is not coming back. "He is dying," she said matter-of-factly, as if she had already exhausted her emotions about it, as if he was already gone and she had made her peace with it.

But when she spoke about her rooster, she had a break. "I hope I won't cry," she said. But she did, and now I am too.

She called him Gulliver, because he travelled a good deal. She said that his morning call was special, melodic, a clarion call that gave her a shiver of joy when he sang from the highest branches of the trees. He would often come and sit near her, not allowing himself to be touched, but nonetheless seeking her company.

And one day some visiting kids from a nearby guest house stoned him with rocks, catching him on the side of the head, and bashing his face in.

She picked him up then and took him into her home. He was still able to perch at first. But soon he died in her arms. She hasn't had a rooster since.

At the time she told me this, I suggested that if such a thing were to happen again, that maybe a quarter of an aspirin in a cup of water might help with inflamation, and possibly prevent a fatal clot. That is how I am conditioned to respond now, because of what I do: try to figure out the best course of action to save the bird as a biological entity. But in my gut the knife was twisting.

Today in the early morning hours I awoke and remembered Nancy's rooster. And I sobbed.

Why is life so hard and unfair at times, for good people? Why do the beautiful and the noble have to die? Why do I feel like killing the smallest members of my own species sometimes?

Yes, we caught the rooster with the yellow plastic tangled around his leg. And yes, I believe it was the "Boyz" who did it.

The people who helped me catch him fell in love with him. They wanted to keep him, and will let him continue to roam free the neighborhood. Did I mention-- this rooster is only a few blocks from Nancy's Secret Garden?

I am glad you are spreading Chicken Evangelism in Tennessee! Congratulations on your success with Doc. The story you sent about the battery hen rescue was tough to read.

My husband Roy says I am "possessed by the Chicken God" and I guess you are too. I would not give chickens up for anything, and yet... it is a dolorous addiction at times!


It helps to explain Katha's passion for rescuing chickens and nursing them back to help.

Good on you, Katha!

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