Rising From the Ashes: Chicken Survives!

Rising from the ashes, a chicken abandoned in a burning pile of garbage became a beloved—and productive—member of the author's home.

| September/October 1980

065 from the ashes - chicken story

Chicken was like a phoenix, rising from the ashes of a burning garbage pile to claim a place of respect in the Shaw family home.


Chicken and I first met on a cold, bleak morning in November. My wife Joan had left for work, and I decided to take a break from my house-building chores and haul a load of rubbish to the dump.

Someone had set fire to the garbage fill, and it was still giving off thick acrid smoke when I arrived. After greeting a few of the townspeople, I began to unload my van. Just as I finished, I heard a low moan—which seemed to come from the center of the dump—and saw what appeared to be a cluster of black ashes rise from the reeking cinders. I stared in amazement ... then stepped closer to inspect the apparition.

It was a hen ... featherless except for a black, burned stubble that covered her sooty body. With both eyes caked completely shut, she staggered a few steps and then sank down again, moaning and clucking.

"Hey, someone threw away a chicken," I shouted to no one in particular.

"Just an old hen," someone yelled back. "Probably stopped laying."

"They could've at least killed her first ... not let her get roasted alive," I protested. "Shouldn't we put her out of her misery?"

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