Courtney T. Ball

Chasing Chickens

Photo courtesy of Hannah White: friend, photographer, and owner of chickens

When I was a boy, I loved to visit my grandparents’ house. At my mom’s parents’, I would play outside, pick fruit off the trees, or work on projects in Grandpa’s shop. At my dad’s parents’ house, I would explore the barn, play in nearby fields, and visit with Amish children.

I also loved to chase my grandma’s chickens.

I don’t know why, really. Why does any kid like chase animals? It’s fun to watch them run, I guess. Though, upon further reflection, I would also add that chickens were particularly fun to watch run: the way their heads bobbed forward and backward with every quick step of their little bird legs, their agitated clucking, the frantic flapping of nearly useless wings. They just got so comically bothered by it. Plus, they were always in a group, so it caused quite a ruckus once I got them going. I thought it was extremely entertaining!

My Great Grandma Knouse did not agree. She used to yell out the window at me every time I got the flock going. “Stop chasing those chickens! How many times do I have to tell you? Leave those chickens alone!”

I would apologize and wander off. But before long, I would forget again. I wanted to be a good kid, but I just couldn’t resist chasing those chickens!

Then one day, I was at my grandma’s house with my mom. They started visiting and I got bored, but before long, I spotted a few chickens milling around. So, I decided to avail myself of the only means of entertainment I could find.

As usual, it was great fun, and the grownups were so busy talking that they didn’t even yell for me to stop. I was left to my own devices.

Then it happened.

I don’t know what caused that switch to flick inside their brains, but somehow, as a group, they all decided that they had had enough. The chickens turned on me.

I could see it in their eyes. It’s funny how with animals a human being can feel superior, powerful even, and then in the blink of an eye, those feelings can be replaced with pure terror. When those chickens came after me, I turned tail and screamed like a little girl.

I ran for my mom, but the chickens ran right after me. Mom was no help, so I ran up the steps onto the porch. The chickens kept coming right up the steps. Desperate, I jumped over the outside railing, hoping it would protect me from the angry mob. I clung to the top rail with my fingertips, scooted my feet out until only my toes were touching, and leaned the rest of my body out away from the porch railing while the lead chicken strutted back and forth on the other side of the bars. In a matter of seconds, those chickens were going to squeeze through the spindles and peck my legs off. I whimpered in self-pity, tears streaming down my cheeks as I waited for the inevitable.

Then it was over. I don’t know if they couldn’t figure out how to get to me or if they decided they had made their point. Either way, before long the chickens lost interest, hopped down off the porch, and went back to pecking in the grass. As for me, I never, ever chased chickens again.

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Courtney Ball

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