How my daughter came up with the name Poopy for one of our baby chicks was beyond me. Perhaps it was foreshadowing for its shitty life.
But have no fear! There’s a happy ending here!
“I think it’s a cute name,” Nell said, holding the tiny yellow chick for his first selfie. “It suits him.”
She’d grown up with backyard chickens. And now that she was going off to college, I thought the new fluffy additions to our family life would make her want to visit home more.
Turns out, I was dead wrong… as in three chicken carcasses later wrong.
“Mom!” she called out to me one Saturday morning. I could hear it in her voice. Something terrible had happened. “There are only two chickens left!” she cried.
“What?” my head spun. In all my years, I’d never lost a single bird to a predator. How could this have happened? I’d spent the entire weekend Fort Knoxing the coop in reams of chicken wire.
Poopy and Chickpea now stood huddled together in the corner of the coop, looking a bit traumatized. Nell quickly scooped them up, clutching them against her chest before tucking them back into the spare bathtub where they’d been hand-raised. And I went to Home Depot for yet another ream of chicken wire.
This time, I was prepared to do battle with any chicken killers via flashlight, garden hose and baseball bat, just in case. I’m not sure what I would have done with a baseball bat, but at least I was armed. That next night, I slept on the couch with the window open… waiting… listening… until I heard the unmistakable sound of chickens clucking. It was around 12:15 a.m.
The motion detector lights went on cue as I flew across the deck and down the stairs, ready to brave whatever beast was drooling over its midnight snack. Only I tripped and fell down the rest of the stairs, badly scraping my knee and bashing my head on a cement flower pot on the way down. By the time I gathered myself up and got to the coop, it was too late. Poopy was dead. Where was Bob Villa when I needed him?
I called Nell at her babysitting job. She said to go ahead and bury her– that she couldn’t bear to watch or help. She was sobbing. And while it’s not right to love one chicken over another, she had a special spot for Poopy. Maybe it’s because she came when she was called. “Here chickie, chickie, chick, chick,” we’d say and she’d come racing across the yard. Maybe it was because of her big blue eyes or her super fluffy white feathers or that she would snuggle with you like a puppy dog. Silkies do that, you know. Burying her ranks up there as one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
“Mom!” Nell almost yelled as she walked into the bathroom to cuddle and comfort the remaining chicken. “That’s not Poopy! That’s Chickpea! You got the wrong chicken!”
“What are you talking about?”
“Look closely. That’s Poopy! See her markings?”
She was right. In all the excitement and confusion, I misidentified which chicken got killed.
“You made me grieve the wrong chicken,” she scolded as she hugged her beloved Poopy.
OK, so I made a mistake. Sorry! I promise never to apply for a job at a Coroner’s office or be the toe tagger at a hospital, ok?
With Poopy now safe in the house, I had a few days to regroup.
First things first. Call a fellow chicken loving friend to come help fix the coop.
Then limp my way to a poultry supply store in Cortlandt, near Peekskill, NY to order a few new ones.
There, I was greeted by one of the gentlest, kindest people in all the chicken world. Rob told me not to worry, it happens to the best of us.
“You’re not a bad chicken Mom,” he said, hugging me. “Everyone’s chickens get eaten at one point or another. We will fix all of this. Let your friend fix the coop. I will take care of getting you new chicks next week. But promise you’ll get that knee looked at.”
“OK,” I sobbed.
A few days later, it was clear that I had no choice as a hot red line shot down the back of my leg. A few bags of IV antibiotics to kill the infection later, I was good to leave the ER. On bedrest.
How could I deal with acclimating chicks into the new and improved coop now? I simply couldn’t.
Rob said not to worry. He wasn’t going anywhere. Meanwhile, Nell tricked out the coop with all kinds of toys to keep Poopy happy and amused: a mirror, hanging corn, ladders and logs, a dirt bath, and fresh potted herbs for snacking.
All was well in chicken land until one day when she turned to me in the driveway.
“Did you just hear what I heard?” she asked as we pulled in.
“Oh God,” I said. “Is that what I think it is?”
Then came the unmistakable sound again.
It sounded like a rooster crowing. Could it be?
(Click on the link above.)
Turns out, Poopy was no chick! She was a rooster!
“Now what?” Nell and I giggled nervously.
Very few municipalities allow for roosters due to noise variances.
Nell hit the Internet. Poopy’s last chance in life depended on one thing and one thing only. A rooster collar to muffle the sounds of his cock-a-doodle-dooing. We ordered one, only it didn’t work. Not one bit. Poopy had lungs of steel!
I called Rob. He said to bring him in. He’d find Poopy a nice home.
My friend David didn’t believe it.
“The minute we leave, he’s going to put Poopy in a pot or sell him to someone who will,” he insisted.
“No way! Rob is the sweetest, nicest man. He loves Poopy as much as we do.”
David was not convinced as he stood in the doorway of the shop, arms crossed.
“Tell you what,” Rob said. “I’m going to give you the number for the caretaker of the farm. You can go visit Poopy anytime.”
Poopy hit paydirt! Not only does he live at a former Lt. Governor’s 777-acre spread in Westchester County surrounded by alpaca and other feathered friends, the chicken formerly known as Poopy is now referred to as Monsieur Poupee.
How’s that for a shitty life?