19 July 2008

A Tale of Two Mischievous Chickens

Drawing done by Meher Baba, July 30, 1953, of Himself as a Chicken. (Source: The Nothing and the Everything by Bhau Kalchuri, p. xi)

Last Sunday afternoon, July 13th, while on retreat at Meher Center, I was heading for the Sheriar Gate in order to walk to Jerry Edwards’ house for a gathering. Suddenly, out of nowhere, my eyes beheld something that my mind could not quite absorb: two fluffy white chickens were ambling toward me, pecking at the earth, in the general vicinity opposite Phyllis Ott’s house.

What on earth ...? Feral chickens? Where did they come from? Were they fugitive Easter chicks? Someone’s pets? It seemed unlikely that a residential area like Briarcliffe would permit livestock.

These were two beauties, a rooster and a hen—puffs of spotless white feathers, especially full around the feet, and the male had long, shiny feathers on his back. They looked like prize winners at a state fair. As I bent over for a closer look, my sunglasses fell out of my pocket, and the rooster came right over to inspect them at my feet, so they seemed to be used to humans. I whipped out my camera for a few shots.

After admiring them for a minute more, I continued on my way, wondering if I should notify anyone about their presence on the Center. Luckily, two young Baba-lovers were coming on foot toward the Sheriar Gate, so I pointed them toward the chickens and went on to Jerry’s. There I had great fun watching people’s jaws drop open when I said, “Guess what I saw on the Center?” and showed them the photos.

Later I heard the rest of the story. Dean N., one of the staff, recruited Joel M. (who happened to be sitting in the Refectory) to capture the fugitives, as Joel possessed chicken experience. When he arrived on the scene, he found a small crowd surrounding the pair with towels to corral or capture them, but no one knew how. Not a problem for Joel: he grabbed them by the legs. The hen at first ran away, but he chased her into the woods and snatched her up. Then he announced that he needed a pillowcase to stuff them into. It just so happened that Jeff W. was wearing a pillowcase on his head!

Now the question was where to put them. Joel said it was urgent to get them settled or else they might drop dead from the shock of being captured. Someone suggested the guest cabin known as the Coop, but it already had a featherless inhabitant. An even better idea was to use the cage-like device that had been built with fence wire as a raccoon-proof receptacle for the temporary storage of garbage. Joel attached a couple of broom handles with wire to serve as roosts. It was in this makeshift coop behind Lee’s garage workshop that I saw the two chickens the next morning after following the sound of the rooster’s crow. Dean was there to tell me that during the night raccoons had tried to dig their way to “Fannie and Freddie” (as Dean dubbed them)—without success, fortunately.

And now for the happy ending. The next day, the chickens were spirited away in a cat carrier, adopted by a pair of Baba-lovers who have a small chicken farm out in the country. They identified the birds as a Japanese breed and said they had long wanted exactly this type of chicken.

The chickens are adapting nicely to the existing flock, which includes three Rhode Island red hens. It was described to me how, when the large bowl of organic chicken feed from Pennsylvania is put down, the three red hens always rush right to it. But this time, they were pecked away by the white rooster. He sampled a little of the feed and then uttered some sounds to his girlfriend that evidently meant “It’s OK, you can come over now.” He selected a large morsel of corn and placed it on the ground for her to eat. (Awww...) Then she continued eating from the bowl.

The Baba-lover chicken farmer concluded this joyful tale of the two mischievous chickens by saying: “If this story isn’t Baba’s divine humor at its best, it’s not out there!”


Ravi said...

I enjoyed reading your cute story about two chickens.
It was great that you were carrying a camera. They look so cute. It is an ordinary story but the fact that it came from you makes me connect to Mischievous chicken. Jai Baba
Ravi Errabolu,
Peoria IL

Mardi Mccabe said...

Kendra, I love this story! Dennis had told me, but the pictures and your first-hand details are wonderful! Perhaps it is the Beloved's reminder to all, just at this time of the Youth Sahavas, that he is indeed the Mischevious Chicken!

Marc said...

The part of the story that strikes me is:

"They identified the birds as a Japanese breed and said they had long wanted exactly this type of chicken."

It reminds me of the time that my wife and I made a list of some of things we needed for our house. The list included things like wine glasses, framed posters for one of the rooms, and a CD rack, among other things.

The next day, we noticed our neighbors sitting inside their garage with a household items, as if they were having a garage sale. They said they were moving and had invited friends to come and take some of the stuff they no longer needed. They told us that we could come by the following day and take whatever we wanted.

When we stopped by the following day, they had just about everything on our list: the glasses, the framed posters, the CD rack, and some other things. We even got heart-shaped champagne flutes that we used at our wedding (we weren't yet married at the time).

My point here is that maybe the Baba-lovers wanted the chickens so much that Baba provided them- but they had to stop off at the Center first.

All quotes of Meher Baba © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust unless otherwise indicated. Writings by Kendra are © Kendra Crossen Burroughs unless otherwise noted.