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August 2004
Page 5

Crazy Red: Chicken Ghost
by Linda

My husband and I purchased a small farmhouse with a few acres of land in rural Pennsylvania. At the closing, the owners at that time asked us if we would like to keep the two cats that lived in the barn, and if we did, they would give us the six hens that were currently housed in the small hen house along side the barn. They assured us that they layed an egg a day and they did, which we were very grateful for. I being an animal lover enjoyed the chickens very much.

We had a routine, the cats, the chickens and I. The first chore of every morning for several years was stopping at the hen house to collect the eggs. I was met at the door to the hen house by the two cats that we had become owners of. I would break them a raw egg on a big stone slab right outside the hen house door then let the chickens out and feed them. The six hens became quite tame and would follow me around and even come when called by their names. ( I had given them all names of course.) There were two black ones, two red ones and two white ones.

Now two of these chickens had quite quirky personalities. One of the white chickens was much larger than all the others and seemed rather bossy – thus, I called her Queenie. And one of the red chickens was quite noticeably of the skittish type – thus, I named this one Crazy Red. Crazy Red ran everywhere she went, and I do mean everywhere! I felt quite sorry for her a lot of the time as she seemed afraid of her own shadow. My husband and I would always comment on Crazy Red: "There she goes again.... Wonder what she's running from now." It got to be a huge joke and we started making up things that she could be running from.

As the years passed, the hens became old and didn't lay eggs anymore. We didnt care. I still kept the routine going, only the cats didnt get a fresh egg everyday. Eventually, the chickens started dying one by one. I would find them just lying peacefully in the hen house, dead. The last two left were Crazy Red and Queenie.

One summer morning early in the season, I went to feed the chickens and let them out and found Crazy Red really sick. I took her to the vet and they couldn't do anything for her. She died in my arms, and I buried Crazy Red along with the others that had gone before. There was only Queenie left. I really think Queenie died of a broken heart a year later, but that's another story.

That following fall after Crazy Red passed, I was winterizing my barn on one of those warm, sunny fall days that are so typical of Autumns in Pa. I had been working on putting plastic up so the cold wind wouldn't get into the barn and chill my horses. I had been working approximately three hours when I decided I needed to sit for a few minutes and take a break. As I was walking down my aisleway of my barn, I saw Crazy Red go running past the barn door. Much to my amazement, I never gave it a second thought at the time; I just thought, "There goes that Crazy Red," and laughed.

I took my two-minute break, got up and finished the plastic to block the wind, fed the horses and called for Queenie to come on in. Lo and behold, to my amazement I had realized that I had not let Queenie out of the enclosed grassy area that morning and realized at that moment that I had actually seen a ghost chicken! Crazy Red!

I was quite sad at first that she was gone and that was immediately followed by a sense of gladness in knowing that she was still running around in her usual manner. I havent seen Crazy Red since that warm Autumn day, but I will never forget what I saw – or Crazy Red – as long as I live.

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