Some people have all the luck.
Like the Chicken Lady, for example.
You already realize, I’m sure, at the very mention of the Chicken Lady, that what follows will not be the usual lighthearted “Outsidah” column, wavering as always between the merely obnoxious and the patently offensive. No. This is going to be hard news.
I am not accustomed to reporting the news in this column; the Chronicle has hard-working reporters reporting the news every day, and I salute them. But this story, a story of great potential public interest, seems to have slipped through the cracks this past spring, and as a public service I now bring it to these pages for your consideration.
The Chicken Lady, you’ll recall, is a longsuffering citizen, resident of a half-acre lot on Lakemans Lane, whose six chickens came under fire from the Town of Ipswich last year. Trying to get her poultry legalized, she dutifully put in her time with the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Health, and the non-profit group Legroom for Poultry. (In fact, at our upcoming Town Meeting, you may have an opportunity to vote “yes” to ease the regulatory stranglehold on her chickens, and all Ipswich chickens, a stranglehold which, of course, the Creator never designed chickens to endure.)
After all the meetings, hearings, interrogations, and other indignities the Chicken Lady has been obliged to undergo, one might expect the universe to give her a break. But no.
It was Mother’s Day. The Chicken Lady was looking forward to sleeping in. Her husband was committed to doing the family’s standard “morning chicken duty” — you let the chickens out of their coop and into the yard, to stretch their drumsticks, then you scatter some fowl-friendly breakfast seed for the pets to peck — so his dear wife could stay in bed.
But it was not to be.
The Chicken Lady was roused from her slumber by early morning noises. Not chickens pleasantly clucking. Not little daughters giggling while making breakfast for Mommy. No.
It was mooing.
Imagining she was hearing mooing, the Chicken Lady flopped over grumpily in bed. She couldn’t have just heard mooing. They own chickens, not — you know — mammals. In a moment, she was relaxing, ready to slip back into dreamland. But then: Moo. The Chicken Lady blinked and stared at the ceiling. She lay still and listened. Silence.
Then — there it was again: Moo.
She pulled the pillow over her head. Moo. Moo. Mooooo. The pillow was ineffective. Mooooooooo.
Then came the police sirens, far-off in the distance at first, but blaring more and more loudly by the second. Then came the crashes, metal and wood and — perhaps that lovely earthenware vase? Then came the barking.
The Chicken Lady erupted from her bed at 6:18 a.m., spewing cuss words. She sprang to the window. She looked out.
She saw it all.
Thirty cows. In her yard. Meandering. Eating her pansies. And mooing. Plus, three police cars, complete with officers. Plus, one animal control officer. The humans, scratching their heads. The cows, blithely knocking over watering cans and clay pots and yard furniture. And neighborhood dogs urgently offering commentary, a kind of “Canine Bovine Report.”
It was later learned that the cows had escaped from Appleton Farms. And of all the fine folks in Ipswich whose yards they might have chosen for their meandering and munching and mooing, they chose the Chicken Lady. It seems these fugitive Flossies, pondering their options, apparently came to a consensus based on celebrity status.
“Where you wanna go?”
“I don’t know, where do you wanna go?”
“We could go to the Chicken Lady’s house.”
“Oh, yeah! I read about her in the Chronicle. She’s an animal-lover. She’ll take us in.”
And so it was.
Of course, Appleton Farms is a Trustees of Reservations property. As an enthusiastic member of the Trustees, I will not be surprised to receive a fundraising appeal in the near future, a “Padlocks for the Pasture” Campaign or some such.
Maybe they can get the Chicken Lady to offer a celebrity endorsement?
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Cow correspondent Doug Brendel can be reached via Outsidah.com.