834. Turtle Dove


Bernardine’s late husband had kept chickens. Nine in all. His favourite one was white with three little black feathers in its tail. He called it Turtle Dove.

Bernardine’s late husband’s flock of nine produced eight eggs daily. Which one wasn’t laying was anyone’s guess. He dreaded to think it might be Turtle Dove.

The thing was, now that her husband had passed on, Bernardine simply did not need eight eggs a day. She decided one egg a day was enough. There are some things in life that have to be done. Bernardine took the bull by the horns. She bit the bullet. One chicken killed a day was the answer. She would chop its head off, pluck it, and throw it into the freezer.

How Bernardine hated the fall of her tomahawk. The chicken’s neck was laid on the block and down came the sharp tomahawk, severing the neck. What if she missed?

The first day passed. One chicken was safely in the freezer. The next day, from the eight remaining hens, she gathered seven eggs.

After the second day she gathered six eggs. After the third day she gathered five. Down went the number of chickens until there were two remaining hens. Bernardine was getting one egg a day. One of the remaining chickens was Turtle Dove.

Bernardine chopped the head off the second to last chicken. The next day she got one egg! From Turtle Dove! What a dear chicken! Oh, but it must be lonely. So lonely.

These days, Bernadine has a flock of eleven, including Turtle Dove. A chicken needs company. Bernardine gathers ten eggs a day.

53 thoughts on “834. Turtle Dove

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Yes – but it’s only the “death throes” – sort of a muscular/nerve flapping of wings that can last about 5 minutes cavorting/fluttering around spreading blood everywhere! A lot of people wring their necks rather than chop them off! (Twist the neck and yank it). Sorry about the gruesomeness of this – but it’s what has to be done if you’re not vegan…

      1. Cynthia Jobin

        I understand how people might find this so repulsive as to become vegans. And I understand farmers who must kill chickens. What’s kind of hypocritical is to enjoy meat and deny the gruesome reality of how it comes to be on your plate. I knew of an old Sicilian woman who lived in the city and enjoyed eating “squab.” She would capture pigeons (I forget how) and drown them in the toilet. One can only wonder and imagine…

          1. Bruce Goodman Post author

            Some parents forbid their kids to name the animals because it “anthropomorphizes” them. We named all of ours – in fact, on a dairy farm it was illegal not for every cow to have a name and a number. It was something to do with tracing tuberculosis.

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Two years for a chicken is old enough and then you boil it for about three hours, and then it’s tender enough to cook. Their egg laying becomes erratic usually after 2 years. I grew up having to cull the chickens – even as a little kid. I’ve always kept chickens (until now) and used to supply the school’s staff of about 30 with all their eggs – free of charge – but I’d get jams and sauces and marmalades and pickles and fruit and…

  1. MPHIX

    I half expected it to be a Roald Dhal special adapted for Tales of the Unexpected! Did you ever get that show in NZ?
    In all however, it was a gentle tale of karmic revenge. So many possibilities though, especially with regards to the dead husband…

              1. MPHIX

                As cliché as it sounds, Romeo and Juliet does a good job of haunting me at every turn, even under the disguise of West Side Story which is my husband’s favourite musical, particularly the 1961 film adaptation. I am his Maria that he had dreamt of meeting from the age of 4 when he first went to see the film in the theatre!

                A Midsummer Night’s Dream is probably my favourite of all. Richard III is a powerful one. I saw both Macbeth and Hamlet from the control box, years ago while doing work experience at the National Theatre in London. Not seen Will at the Globe yet, I’m told it’s a great experience. Maybe next time I’m back in the UK. Mind you, I’ve only just left so it might be a while!

  2. inesephoto

    I knew she wouldn’t chop off Turtle Dove’s head. But getting another ten chicken was a unexpected twist. Well done!
    A friend has got two pigs, Bacon and Cabbage.


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