Last winter as I drove to the local auto shop for an oil
change next to a chicken slaughter plant in Maryland, I saw
something white in the road. Something pushed me to check
further. I walked closer and saw a chicken in a mud puddle. I
went back to the car, grabbed a terry cloth robe, gently picked
up the chicken, and placed him in the car beside me. I told the
mechanic to cancel the job: "I found a chicken." He said, "I'll
call the plant and tell them to come get it." I said, "No thanks.
No one from the slaughter plant is getting this chicken." I
brought him home.
photo by Karen Davis
Morning Glory nuzzles up against Clarence.
I did not know what I would do with this poor battered bird,
but I knew I would protect him.
The smell of feces and ammonia was very strong. The
chicken's underbelly and wings were brown with the filth he had
lived in. He could not walk normally. He was large and his feet
were swollen and deformed. He had a sound in his chest. I named
him Morning Glory.
When I first fed Morning Glory, he struggled to get
underneath me. He was a baby bird. I was the mother he needed to
cuddle under. (He was only 6 weeks old, I later learned. That's
when they kill them.) Morning Glory would climb on my lap and
nuzzle under my arm. When I set him in my bedroom in the morning
sun, he sang--a "chicken song"--sweet and soft. He was singing he
was happy to feel the sun on his soft feathers. Then he crawled
under my sweatshirt and fell asleep.
Morning Glory only lived a couple of months. His legs
collapsed under his heavy body and he developed a suffocating
respiratory disease--the disease I heard gurgling in his chest
the day I picked him off the road next to the slaughter plant. A
week after I found him, I took him to United Poultry Concerns so
he could live with other rescued chickens. There, he immediately
chose an aging rooster named Clarence to snuggle under. Trilling
and trilling, Morning Glory sat under Clarence's comforting old
wings. He died in the arms of Karen Davis, the president of
United Poultry Concerns, at the veterinary clinic. She helped him
find the rest he could not find in life. She held him until he
died. And I am here, in tears, telling his story. Morning Glory.