Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Hannah sees an...alien?

{My latest for Tails & Tales column}


 “Mrs. Dunnnnnn! Come now, come now!” Pickles screamed through the window.

I dropped everything and ran out the door, and Pickles was rushing back to the barn.

“Hurry, Mrs. Dunn! It’s Marta!” she screamed.

Marta is one of the hens. She is a very special hen and we refer to her as the Pirate Hen, because even though she is a tiny Bantie breed, she doesn’t let anybody, even the rooster, push her around. She stays to herself, foraging far from the flock.

As I got to the barn, all the goats were huddled in one of the side rooms where the hens lay their eggs. From the look of some of their faces, it appears they had just seen a ghost.

“Are they aliens?” asked Ollie.

“Aliens?!” said little Hannah, and she went running to stand near Earnest the pig for comfort.

“Oh, little Hannah, those aren’t aliens, they are baby chicks,” said Earnest the pig.

“They must have been slimed!” Ollie said.

“They just came out of the egg,” I said. “Marta will get them all dry and fluffy, don’t worry.”

About 3 weeks ago, Marta got broody–she started sitting on any eggs that were laid and she clearly wanted to hatch some babies. I knew Marta would be a fierce mother and protector, so I allowed her to keep 4 eggs, and marked them. Every day, I picked up the fresh, unmarked eggs, and Marta sat and incubated the nest.

“How did they get in the egg?” asked Hannah, still a novice about life and death.

“We’ve been through this, Hannah,” I said. “The rooster fertilizes the eggs while the eggs are still in the hen’s body, and then they turn into chickens.”

Hannah looked confused.

“In other words, Hannah, the rooster–without asking permission–has mad, passionate love with the hen in order to show them he is in charge and wants to continue creating children he won’t care for,” said Henneth the blind hen.

Paulo Steadman, the rooster, strutted by, cackling. “That’s rather harsh,” he said, “but it’s true, I have no interest in rearing them.”

“So the baby is in the egg, inside the hen, and then what happens?” Hannah asked.

“Then the egg comes out her bottom!” said Pickles.

“Well, it’s not her real bottom, it’s just...down there,” said Earnest the pig.

Marta stood up to stretch, and sure enough, the little slimy chicks were now dry and fluffy.
“I would appreciate some quiet, I have three more eggs to keep warm and safe, so please
give us some privacy,” said Marta.

“Why don’t I have eggs?” Hannah asked.

“You do,” said Earnest the pig.

Hannah started crying. “I don’t want any chickens coming out down below!”

“You can’t have chickens, Hannah, you’re a goat,” I said. “And you need a boy goat to make baby goats inside you,” I said.

“Ollie’s a boy!” said Hannah.

“He’s a special boy, he can’t make babies,” I said.

“Can you make baby people, Mrs. Dunn?” Pickles asked.

“Not any more,” I said.

“You’re special too!” said Hannah.