United Poultry Concerns Stories
With Love for Fryer Tuck
By Jan Whalen

© This story about a beloved rooster appeared in PoultryPress, Winter 1994

Photo by Jan Whalen

The sun beats down on my back so warm and soft, just like the gentle rooster I am holding in my arms. We swing slowly back and forth in the big yard swing. Fryer Tuck's eyes are closed, he rests his head gently on my shoulder, as he has done before, only this time is special in a different way. It is a time for dreaming and recalling the good life he has had here with the Biddy Bums, my affectionate name for my pet chickens. You see, I run an orphanage for stray and abused poultry and have built for them a small Victorian house in my back yard called the Cob Web Cottage, which is part of my Feather Bed and Breakfast for tourists.

Sixteen months ago, I got a call from some people who had visited a chicken slaughterhouse to survey the carnage, when to their surprise seven young birds were discovered hiding under the machinery. The rest is history. I took in the whole dung-covered, crippled, and sick lot, whom we called The Fryers Club including Fryer Tuck, Rob Hen Hood, Maid Mary Hen, and Little John!

Fryer Tuck and I have seen a lot since then. Together we watched his little band die, one by one, of diseases caused by the demand for meat. To most people who come here, that's all chickens are, until they get to know Fryer Tuck, and hear his story, and see how much I love him.

I hug him tighter. His eyes are closed, and I remember the time that he went to my friend Lois's home as an honored birthday guest and impressed everyone with his nice house manners. I think of the many times that he made his way into the hearts of children just by being himself, and letting them pet him, while I told the story of his great escape. He's been quite an ambassador for animal rights.

I stroke him once more, and my tears fall, not so much for him as for me. For you see, the lovable big rooster who lies in my arms with his head on my shoulder died in his sleep during the night. He was the last member of the Fryer's Club. When I tucked him in, I remember hugging him and telling him how much I loved him. I told him, "You know honey, Mom wouldn't be here at midnight checking on you and caring for you if she didn't love you so much."

Little children will ask about him, and I'll tell them the truth, that he is in heaven. They may cry too, but it will be for his good fortune, and we will work together so that one day all the other chickens and factory farm animals will have as good a life as Fryer Tuck had, because all the people who say they love animals will have quit eating them.

Sitting here dreaming of that day, I love you, Fryer Tuck, and promise that The Fryers Club will never be forgotten.

United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
FAX: 757-678-5070

(Stories & Poems - With Love for Fryer Tuck )

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