Chicken Crisis

Photography by Klaus Mayer

Fast forward to three month after the arrival of four chickens, the working and personal relationship between the guy who feeds them has spiraled downward to a crisis: a stand-off.

The chickens arrived to a pristine roach infested yard to which they are free to range. Two of them produced much desired eggs for the guy, in exchange for the use of his land. The beginning was a happy and festive time, communications and mutual respects were bestowed on all parties. The chickens taught the guy the way of the chickens which improved his life and opened his mind to better a understanding of the inner workings of nature. The guy was also delighted to have company and some purpose in his life. He merrily related the amazing problem solving abilities of his new chicken friends to a few of his people friends. They nodded in appreciation at the stories of smart chickens and realized that they may have also thought chickens “stupid”.

A new home

For weeks after the chickens’ arrival, the guy was busily working in the hot tropical sun enduring heat and insects to build the chickens a modern minimalist roost made out of aluminum and wood. Situated under a tree high above the ground to allow the chickens a view of the sunsets and clear vista of the back yard, it is a new lovely cozy home that even makes the neighbor’s cat envious. He fortified the existing fences and built gates to keep them safe from roaming dogs.

Soon after their arrival and about two dozen eggs later, the chickens simply stopped. They went on holidays to molt. Shedding their feathers everywhere and in their ever expanding spare time took up decorating every walkable surface with poop. They call it art. White phosphate splatters remain after the other part of the poop dried and blew away. The results are abstract “white flowers” on wood and concrete. A meeting was held where the chickens demanded more feed during this “stressful time of their transition” and offered no timeline to return from holidays. With a four to one attendance, the guy was pressured into the chickens’ demand of more feed no eggs. The chickens went on strike. The guy’s hands were tied. The chickens remained on vacation and produced a massive amount of “abstract art”. The guy found wet “art projects” at all entrances into his home. At this point their relationship began to sour, the guy felt besieged by the chickens. In an earnest attempt to minimize conflicts, the guy put up more gates and fences to establish chicken art free zones and expressed his displeasure of the chickens’ lack of consideration for property rights. No matter how he tried to keep them out, the chickens broke through. “Why do they have to poop on my back porch?” cried the guy.

The Chicken Summit

As the conflict at this once peaceful garden home escalated, enter the experts: a Swiss sex therapist, her German architect associate, and a retired United Kingdom police officer from South Africa, took time from their own holidays to intervene. The four of them barricaded themselves inside the house for two days for the chicken summit. During the first day, the sex therapist, turned chicken whisperer, volunteered to meet with the chickens. The meeting went extremely well, the chickens were cordial, cute and attentive. While being fed – again – they softly complained about the mistreatment they received from the guy when they offered up their “art” freely. They also stated that there has been misunderstanding because the guy is not the sharpest tool in the shed. Charmed by their intelligence and cuteness with new feathers and fat from being on indefinite holidays and double rations, the chicken whisperer scolded the guy by stating “if you do not like their art, you need to put up more fences”. She stated the chickens needed comfort and security and absolutely no stress if they are to produce eggs. “Think of them as pregnant women. You do not chase pregnant women around the yard with a stick” she concluded.

All three men of the chicken summit shared the blame for being ignorant of hens, most affected was the guy. He was ashamed for his pursuit of the chickens around the yard for “exercise”. He agreed to continue the feed and will let nature take its course and wait out the chickens’ holidays. The guy’s request for the chickens to recognize the chicken art free zone was delivered by the chicken whisperer as his main condition of the treaty for peace.

All was quiet that afternoon.

That evening, before roosting time, a chicken was found inside the chicken art free zone. A pile of wet poop glistened in the fading light on the guy’s porch.