Featherless Chickens – A Story To Make You Think

Once there was a housed piece of land far from any city or other farms. On that land were raised many chickens for eggs and for the people’s enjoyment. Every day, the plump chickens scratched and pecked the insects and grain from the yard they lived in. They happily chatted amongst themselves, living in full harmony together. In summer, they roamed freely, hiding under the shady trees to keep the warm sun from making them too hot. In winter, they fluffed up their warm feathers and huddled together for warmth in the henhouse. They always welcomed the spring for they grew tired of the winter mash and missed the variety of foods in the yard. The young boy, who lived in the faraway house, spent much of his time feeding and playing with the chickens. He made sure they had lots of food. He gamely searched for eggs to bring in to his mother. He scratched itchy chicken heads, petted ruffled feathers, giggled at the way the hens tilted their funny head while drinking from the pond, gently held newborn chicks and praised the new mothers.

Then one day, the man brought home a strange creature. She looked like the other hens except she had no feathers. The boy was delighted with this bizarre being and spent the rest of the day carrying her around and taking care of her. When all the chickens were shut in the henhouse that night, they gathered around the newcomer to ask questions.
“What are you?” asked the dark brown hen. The others plumped their head feathers up so as to hear the stranger’s answer.
“What? You haven’t heard of me?” answered the naked chicken haughtily, raising her beak in the air. “I’m a newest breed, a giant leap in chicken technology!” The other hens laughed but she only turned her beak up higher. Shaking their fluffy heads, the other hens flapped up to their perches, leaving the newcomer squatting on the floor under the heat lamp.

But starting the next day, things began to change around the yard. The boy still made sure all the chickens had food, however, no longer did he spend time playing and caring for the hens as he had. The newcomer, whom he named Korah, took all his time and attention. He gave her special food. He made sure she had plenty of water. He rubbed sunblock over her red skin and sheltered her from the hot sun. This went on for many weeks and when the only rooster in the yard began ignoring them also, the green eyed monster overtook them.

Then the unthinkable happened. The lovely house caught fire and burned to the ground. The boy and his family had to leave until the new house could be built. As it was summer, the chickens were left to fend for themselves, except for a full feeder for Korah. There came a division in the yard. Many of the younger hens began flocking to Korah, trying to imitate her.
“He doesn’t like you because you are so ugly with all your fat feathers,” said Korah. The next morning when they emerged from the dark henhouse, the dark brown hen wasn’t dark brown anymore. She had spent the night plucking out her feathers. She stood proudly shivering beside Korah as the rooster strutted over and gave her an appreciative eye. It didn’t matter to him that her skin was mottled here and there with spots of blood where she’d painfully torn out her downy feathers. All day long, she basked in the glow of both Korah and the rooster’s attention. It didn’t matter that she was cold in the dewy morning; she was warm from the rooster’s regard. It didn’t matter that the hot sun burned her skin red; she was too cool to care. It didn’t matter that she couldn’t fly up to the roost to perch with the heat of the others; she got to cuddle up under the lamp with Korah. It didn’t matter that the sunburn hurt or her skin ached from the sores. Being with Korah was more important. The boy (and the rooster) would surely love her too now and give her a name.

Over the next week, almost all the other hens pulled out their feathers. Every morning, another naked chicken stood shivering among the growing huddle around Korah and the rooster. They would only eat Korah’s special food, stating that it was the only type they could eat now that they were featherless chickens too. Even some of the old hens were convinced to de-feather.

Soon Korah’s special food ran out. She began to starve, unable to eat regular grain and insects that were plentiful in the yard. Of course, the naked hens thought they too must go hungry, for if Korah was thin, they, too, must be thin. The group became hungry and angry. If a hen snuck a bug, the others would gang up on her and tell her how awful she was for eating at all. Only the old hens and a very few of the younger ones didn’t get caught up in the naked chicken fad. They stayed away from Korah’s hungry, angry group and pecked away at the grain and insects that were overrunning the yard.

featherless chickens
Featherless Chickens

     Just before winter, the boy came back. He ran to the yard to see his favourite chickens. But he gazed at his flock in horror. Korah had died of starvation the night before and her body lay surrounded by fifty, frightfully skinny, randomly tufted, mangy hens. The man heard his child wail and came to take his sobbing son back to the new house. When the man came back, he sadly shooed the confused rooster and the few feathered hens that were left into the henhouse. Then he picked up Korah’s body and the naked hens watched in stunned silence as he threw it into the incinerator. Frightened, they looked at each other and saw how diseased and awful they looked. As the man came towards them, a few of them tried to run from their fate but most were too sick and weak. As the once dark brown feathered hen’s world abruptly went to darkness, she wondered how she could have been so foolish as to try to become something she was not.


3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    purrrkitten said,

    I’ve had this story in my head for a couple of years now. Today, it finally wanted to come out for good. Tell me what you think of it, good or bad. I’m open to suggestions! 🙂

    If you like it and want to repost it, please credit it to being written by me.

  2. 2

    Ken Durocher said,

    Good story about being “comfortable in our own skin” and being yourself.

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