Today is memorial day in the coop. It was roughly eight weeks ago that Kitten was killed in cold blood leaving behind four young children. Her death was violent and unexpected. She sat with her hatchlings under her warm breast protecting them in the noon day sun while her human friend ran into the house for water. No one thought anything bad would happen, but then it did. A hawk came swooping down quickly and with a ferocious and terrifying clutch knocked Kitten off her four babies and tried to grab them in his powerful claws. Kitten fought back pecking, scratching and yelling to get the kids to safety. The human came out and the hawk seeing he was not going to take the whole flock grabbed mother Kitten in his clutches and flew off with her where she no doubt met a sad and painful end doing what moms do, protecting her children.
Her four little ones are now part of our collective brood, they are the little silkie chicks we’ve been talking about. Today, as in most days, they miss their mom. They are more reluctant to sit in our laps and accept the affection of our three original chickens because they knew the love of a real chicken mom and we know we can never make up for that.
The hawk tragedy is something chickens are born knowing is among the possibilities. They are birds of prey and predators rarely take a day off. The dangers we know, while uneasy, can be lived with. It’s the things we don’t know and cannot calculate which seem so unfair. For instance, I attended a No GMO rally today and knew only vaguely that genetically modified seed which is actually created with pesticides in it exists in nearly everything I eat unless it comes directly out of soil I can account for, it exists in most corn and the chickens eat a lot of corn. So am I to assume if the hawk does not get the chickens, then the corn will?
My chickens and I know that there are numerous predators. We know we are not in the mainstream in that our intention is not about egg laying or production of any kind but just a nice commonly shared love for one another. In our house we’re totally living that value quite comfortably. But now we have another enemy who hides behind feeding the world’s poor by monkeying with the essence of life–the seed–and claiming though it kills bees, dries up fields, cannot produce for more than one year and is littered with dirty pesticide that the chickens and I are the ones who don’t care because we’re feeling like we’d rather just have natural corn. A hawk we can see coming, these GMo’s look like anyone else and their owners act like anyone else but they are secret predators who pull us from our runs without warning. Rosey chokes on the idea of it, especially as she helps her friends mourn the loss of their mom. The only thing worse than losing a natural born mom is losing the mother of us all–Earth.
Chickens don’t dream of having more corn than everyone else and hoarding it. Chickens don’t dream of modifying worms to be twenty feet long so they can gorge themselves. If you take something out of balance and place it before a chicken, they will step back and avoid it. Don’t get me wrong, these guys don’t miss a meal but they won’t eat something that seems more like a science experiment than food. The problem, for them, with GMO corn is that unless you read the label it sneaks in like food and soon becomes a predator.
Now the coop members did not attend the rally. They had pressing memorial business and they aren’t fond of a show of any kind. They trust me to feed them real corn and feed made of the kinds of seeds that come from plants, not a factory. They have enough on their minds without having to worry about secret predators who care about something as fictional as a piece of paper humans call money.
I only hope I can live up to their trust. I read the labels and avoid Genetically Modified Organisms like the poison they are so the chicken kids get the right food to make them healthy and strong. This isn’t about me but personally it’d be great to have a chicken friend who makes it to twenty and that’s not likely if they eat GMO’s known to grow tumors, cancer and render animals infertile.
But, while we don’t talk about this in the coop much I do think about the high price of organic food and I think about the kids on the bus who have to eat the GMO processed food their hard working and loving parents can afford and I imagine that it’s not so different from the hawk who murdered Kitten…the difference is the parents don’t have a fighting chance because the predator is unseen.
Rosey, Henny, Happy and the silkie chicks honor Kitten on this day and we also honor every chicken and creature trying to make their way with predators circling over head. Some of us will no doubt lose our lives to predators. As painful as that is we can live with it if it fits within the balance of the Earth. What’s hard to swallow is that the predator is neither hawk nor storm but one who creates a game to win made up of paper money. The hawk was hungry and needed to live. The GMO predator just wants to have all the food to starve out his prey. It’s a longer and more brutal game which requires a lot of cluck, pluck and scratch to fight.
While the hawk circles and the chickens sleep I wait for the moonlight to assure me there is still time to fight the hidden predator. There must be time because my heart still beats and I still breathe.
So I will take my fight to the Grange and the supermarket, to the halls of the legislature and to the pillow at night where I will dream of the fight. What more can I do? I have babies to protect who’s mothers are already gone. I catch them under my breast and I promise them as they gently sleep to keep them safe from predators seen and unseen.
I stand for Kitten and I mean business. Next to me is Rosey and the flock. Together we will bless the soil and the seeds and never let a predator pretend to be anything but what he is.
We are chickens, hear us cluck!