It was dusk before Alex noticed; she had to hurry now. She packed her satchel - with a single Sickle feather from her largest Plymouth Rock - a rooster named Prince. She packed a bucket of spent grain from the local brewery to share with the others, and some diatomaceous earth for mites, an ongoing problem of chicken owners everywhere. Alex had only been a hobby chicken farmer for a couple years, but she felt like an expert.
She had encountered numerous chicken problems and behaviors, and come up with many creative solutions. She truly loved her four girls and one accidentally wrongly sexed rooster.The only problem was she'd misread the city bylaw and was harboring illegal clucking fugitives entirely - not just her rogue roo.
She did some investigating on solutions to keep her chickens safe from the law, and discovered a gang of outlaw inner-city chicken farmers in the process. She'd first emailed a message of injury to a boldly tattooed man she'd met at the farmer's market (naturally he was selling fresh eggs). He replied - but very cryptically. "At barn time next rainy day we'll catch worms. Don't lose sight of the banana peel."
Alex decoded this riddle: it must mean the time she has to put the chickens in the coop for the night (before the awful owls awaken), the weather Tuesday was calling for rain, the field by the fruit-stand was a prime spot for due worms lazily slugging along in the grass, but what on earth was the banana peel? She thought about banana peels - you can allegedly slip on them. They are yellow. They are what you throw out - Ah - that's it! There is a smoothie stall beside the fruit-stand - they must throw away a ton of banana peels (in fact, the most adored snack of her chickens is "banana worms," a simple creation - a banana peel thinly peeled into strands palatable for tiny beaks).
Since she knew the location she loaded up her Jetta and headed for the fruit-stand. It was 8:30 and it had, in fact, been raining all day long. It had slowed to a drizzle barely worthy of wiper-blade action. She rolled into the field behind the fruit-stand and looked around for any sign of other vehicles, she heard the engine of a motorbike slowly revving down. A man dressed in full leather and a helmet that covered his entire head approached her car. She nervously rolled down the window; he leaned towards the vehicle. "Who told you to come here?" The man said in a gruff and husky voice. She noticed a small detailed feather on either side of his helmet. She must be in the right place after all. "A man from the farmer's market told me I could come catch worms here."
The man took off his helmet, and smiled to reveal a missing tooth. " Nice to meet you, I'm Fred by the way, the others should be here shortly." He said as his voice changed from weathered biker to a friendly Southern Ontario drawl, "what do you have in your knapsack?"
I pulled out the Sickle feather and his eyes bulged. "That there! Is the biggest, most perfect Sickle feather I've ever seen!" He hollered with enthusiasm, "we must put that on our chicken shrine!" I knew Prince was a special cock, but I doubted his feather size would be anything remarkable to a seasoned inner-city chicken specialist.
A moment later, a minivan pulled into the parking lot and from it came six plaid-clad, dirty work-booted, stern-faced men, and one woman with a small feather face tattoo. Wow. This is really happening - I thought. The woman was the first to greet me. Her stare was so intense it took me a moment to notice the Hackle feathers braided into her hair. "Buck-buck-buck-caaaaaa-caaaaaaa," she muttered as barely more than a mid-day chicken acknowledgement. I replied as my hens would. "Buc-caw!" I said quietly but distinctly. Her face changed from that fierce stare to a warm smile. "How many do you have?" She asked. "4 girls and one Roo(ster)," I said as I let my guard down.
The man from the farmers market stood behind her, and came up to me, "glad you could make it, my name's Beau by the way. This is Waylon, John, Big John, Ray, and Zeke, Jen our president and founder, and you met Fred our treasurer already." "Hey everybody, I'm Alex, I come bearing spent grain and diatomaceous earth," I announced as I hoisted the buckets out of the trunk. Everybody erupted in cheer and they brought containers and filled them.
Once they had all taken all that they could Fred stood before everyone. "I think there's something we should address before we go worm hunting," he continued, "Alex has shown me something so remarkable I think we should cast a vote to have it attached to our shrine of the late Roo Sparky."
Beau peered up from where he sat and Jen's eyes were glued on me with focus and curiosity. I took the Sickle feather delicately out of my satchel, and as I did the group turned completely silent, and then slowly came out with a collective, "OOoooooOOh."
"Biggest I've ever seen!" Waylon and the John's echoed. Ray and Zeke were more reserved, but they quietly whispered to each other words of cock-envy. "What's your champion roo's name?" Zeke said as he re-buttoned his top overall strap since it had come undone with all that excitement. "Prince - he is my Prince," I said glowing with pride.
Fred cleared his throat, "Let's attach it to the shrine." He then lowered his head and shuffled the gravel under his feat. Jen looked intense again; she had forged the iron shrine herself after her late roo after all. Consideration passed across her face. Her left eyed glistened with a single tear. "Sparky would be honored to wear the feather of Prince." She took a single piece of metal adhesive tape and draped the feather along the shrine's back and said "Welcome to the club."