The sun beats down on my back so warm and soft, just like the gentle
rooster I am holding in my arms. We swing slowly back and forth in the
big yard swing. Fryer Tuck's eyes are closed, he rests his head gently
on my shoulder, as he has done before, only this time is special in a
different way. It is a time for dreaming and recalling the good life he
has had here with the Biddy Bums, my affectionate name for my pet
chickens. You see, I run an orphanage for stray and abused poultry and
have built for them a small Victorian house in my back yard called the
Cob Web Cottage, which is part of my Feather Bed and Breakfast for
Sixteen months ago, I got a call from some people who had visited a
chicken slaughterhouse to survey the carnage, when to their surprise
seven young birds were discovered hiding under the machinery. The rest
is history. I took in the whole dung-covered, crippled, and sick lot,
whom we called The Fryers Club including Fryer Tuck, Rob Hen Hood, Maid
Mary Hen, and Little John!
Fryer Tuck and I have seen a lot since then. Together we watched his
little band die, one by one, of diseases caused by the demand for meat.
To most people who come here, that's all chickens are, until they get to
know Fryer Tuck, and hear his story, and see how much I love him.
I hug him tighter. His eyes are closed, and I remember the time that he
went to my friend Lois's home as an honored birthday guest and impressed
everyone with his nice house manners. I think of the many times that he
made his way into the hearts of children just by being himself, and
letting them pet him, while I told the story of his great escape. He's
been quite an ambassador for animal rights.
I stroke him once more, and my tears fall, not so much for him as for
me. For you see, the lovable big rooster who lies in my arms with his
head on my shoulder died in his sleep during the night. He was the last
member of the Fryer's Club. When I tucked him in, I remember hugging him
and telling him how much I loved him. I told him, "You know honey, Mom
wouldn't be here at midnight checking on you and caring for you if she
didn't love you so much."
Little children will ask about him, and I'll tell them the truth, that
he is in heaven. They may cry too, but it will be for his good fortune,
and we will work together so that one day all the other chickens and
factory farm animals will have as good a life as Fryer Tuck had, because
all the people who say they love animals will have quit eating them.
Sitting here dreaming of that day, I love you, Fryer Tuck, and promise
that The Fryers Club will never be forgotten.