To be clear, the warrior chick is not the author, but literally a pullet named Daisy. Pairing here poultry-inspired philosophy with Hunter Hill’s article on unforeseen blessings (River …
To be clear, the warrior chick is not the author, but literally a pullet named Daisy. Pairing here poultry-inspired philosophy with Hunter Hill’s article on unforeseen blessings (River Reporter, December 10, 2020). When life gave him lemons, he made chicken soup. Daisy, however, is a survivor. I am merely her student-observer, a Padawan to her Jedi, and dutiful disciple as I unravel her tale here.
A couple months ago, I took the opportunity to reunite my six-month-old Labrador, McLovin, with his sister, Ruby, for a puppy playdate. In lonely times, getting the doggies together for fun and frolic outdoors in fair weather was a much-welcomed reprieve. I needed socialization at least as much as my pooch.
While the dogs were having an ideal time wrestling and racing across the lawn, we humans thought it cute to introduce Ruby to my small flock of young hens. They were only three days old when they arrived the same week as McLovin last summer. Having been raised these months along with my rambunctious pup, I assumed his nearly identical sister would be familiar to the flock. A sane introduction was thwarted when we realized the hens were not safely contained behind their fence. Those crazy chicks were out and about, fully accessible to any wild threat—in this case, Ruby. Once she discovered these dynamic new playthings, the game was on! The recalcitrant canines defied every human command, despite all our best “alpha” efforts. McLovin was no leading example, rather of Ruby’s seek-and-destroy strategy, he enthusiastically followed her lead in the game. Meanwhile, we three humans had become separated in the madness: an unsuccessful roundup, herding hens this way and that way. Chasing disobedient dogs chasing frantic chickens through blackberry briars. Amidst critter chaos, I thought I heard the Benny Hill theme tragically silenced by a shrieking hen. I feared carnage. Had Ruby gone too far? Were we dead wrong to assume she would be as harmless as her brother?
I tore through the brambles like Rambo through the jungle, heeding the cries of a chick in distress. When I got to ground zero, Ruby was literally plucking Daisy! “He loves me, he loves me not,” as white feathers were yanked out by the mouthful. I thought I saw blood. Worse yet, my poor Daisy was functioning as a candy dispenser for McLovin who was delighted by the “treats” she was dropping in her terror. Fortunately, Ruby was wearing her harness, making it possible for me to hoist her off the victim, enabling Daisy’s escape. We managed to constrain the wild dogs and reign in animal mayhem.
The chickens ultimately found their way home, as chickens do. No longer snowy white, Daisy was dirty and tattered, but miraculously uninjured! We humans, however, suffered scores of scrapes and scratches. Ruby’s harried hominid mom left with a conspicuous slash to her face, mumbling something about post-trauma therapy. Multiple puncture wounds welted across my arm. I could be scarred.
Harrowing as it seemed, Daisy’s transcendence was astounding. For us humans, the ordeal had been as stressful as could be, yet I figured nothing close to the horror Daisy must have suffered inside the mouth of a bird dog. Astonishingly, from that day forth, Daisy was at once both calmer and bolder. In her resilience, she matured overnight. Within days, the very first egg came from the flock. Rosanne, the alpha hen, notably twice the size as the others, was the sure bet to lay first. Fatefully, it was our brave little Daisy to bestow the initial gift.
Still petite and underdeveloped though she was, the size of Daisy’s first egg was remarkable. Pullets, as rooky hens, generally start small. Mini-size pullet eggs are typical for first-time layers; nonetheless, Daisy’s eggs were full size from the onset. Professional farmers agree this is unusual. Perhaps trauma caused a surge in hormones, as if Nature, intent to persevere amidst certain risk, accelerated her reproductive abilities. I pondered how her near-death experience promoted her in multiple ways—physically, emotionally and practically, her sophistication suddenly soaring above the flock. Where the others still follow in a frenzy, Daisy remains grounded and clearly able to think independently, making wise choices instead of reacting irrationally as the rest. Fearless, friendly and forgiving, she now seems to enjoy McLovin’s mock mauling, having gained a higher degree of trust. This wise bird exemplifies the kind of Zen I wish I knew.
Contemplating Daisy’s transformation recalled for me a passage from “The Book of Runes” by Ralph Blum on the ancient Viking oracle. “Consider the uses of adversity,” is one of the signals of Ansuz, the Messenger Rune. Ansuz is associated with the Norse god Loki (Heyoka, in Native American tradition) who, like a cheeky jester, brings satirical gifts of wisdom and laughter through distress and chaos. Ruby, in the role of the “sacred clown,” played the gift-giving scoundrel in our drama. Without her unruly roughhousing, Daisy’s refinement would have gone unrealized. Daisy is impressive not merely for surviving but for significantly evolving. Assuming Daisy has little capacity for self-evaluation allows us to fully appreciate the simple nature of her ascension. Neither a choice nor decision, her progress came without a thought. Simply having survived was enough to make her more.