After we'd arrived and were thoughtfully supplied with beer and finger food our friend regaled us with the tale of how he'd had to kill one of his chickens the day before. I won't go into detail but apparently the creepy story of how they run around for like, ten minutes, after you chop off their heads is totally true.
'Why did you kill it?' I asked, watching uneasily as his wife wandered by with a plate full of raw chicken.
The answer: 'She had a nasty abscess and was starting to dig into it with her beak. She was basically eating herself.'
So glad I asked.
Friend: 'So we had to kill her.'
Me: 'Oh, totally.'
A short, thoughtful pause.
Me: 'Er. . . that wouldn't be the cancerous, self-mutilating chicken on the grill now, would it?'
I had to know.
Friend: 'Naw - we ate that yesterday.'
I think that was a joke.
Me: 'Um. Where are the children?'
Friend: 'Petting the chickens.'
Well, that's OK, because cancerous chicken tumours and self-cannibalism aren't contagious, right? So I too went off to pet a chicken before dinner, a fine red hen that I coveted for my own. She was very soft and I felt as one with nature as I held her and covertly inspected her for strange growths.
Oh, and we also learned that you can put live chicks under a broody hen while she sleeps and she'll raise them as her own. If she doesn't kill them. Who knew?
OK, Sara probably knew.
So, you now know as much as I know about live chickens.