The Demon in My Backyard


There is a dark presence in my yard, slowly eroding my sanity and longtime commitment to not engage in the eating of animal flesh. Or murder. Why is it there? I’ve asked myself this hundreds of times over the past year since I willingly opened my life and yard to it.

Yes, I invited the evil. I felt sorry for it.

As you may recall, after the untimely death of Yellow Legs Garcia, White Legs was lonely so I decided to get her a companion. And you can’t have just one chick, so I chose a second, a little black fuzzy one of indeterminate breed (against my better judgement, which told me to stick with Buff Orpingtons — friendly, affectionate, docile). Because I felt sorry for it, hanging its head through the bars of the “drawer” where they were kept at the feed store, trying to sleep. No sunlight, no ground to scratch, nowhere to run. Rescue.


Hello little demon, well played.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion tiny, innocent-looking chicken searching for someone to devour possess. Resist him (her), standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings* (Peter 5:8-9).

*True, but most of the world is also willing to kill and eat them or at least let them live miserable lives in tiny cages.

I once read a story where the author described a character as looking around “with the uncomprehending gaze of a chicken.” Clearly, that author knew nothing about chickens. They are smart. They learn. They adapt. They will ruin you.

chick devils

Let’s face it, anything that’s one of the closest living relatives of dinos, evolving for more than 10 million years, doesn’t stick around that long for being stupid. I suspect they commanded much more respect before the advent of modern poultry (torture) farms, where they’re treated like commodities rather than relatives of the wild SE Asian jungle fowl, formidable creatures with complex social structures, intelligence and curiosity. But I digress.

Organic food, treats, a huge run, supervised daily ranging … I take good care of my hens in their chicken utopia. Even the wild doves wish to partake.

dove egg

I found this the other day. The dove would’ve had to walk into the coop and up the ramp to lay her egg there. Obviously because she knew that her offspring would enjoy a better life than she could ever give them. I am losing my mind.

And let’s not forget daily servings of their ultimate favorite treats, grapes (cut in half so they don’t choke. I’ll say that again: I cut grapes in half for these boobs). And what do I get in return? Routine escape. Mess. Huge holes dug in the yard. Poop everywhere. Dirt on my patio. And, yes, eggs (devil ovum) that I don’t even like, so I mostly give away.

yard holes

Try navigating this after dark.

after patio

I used to have a nice patio. That weird fabric on the left is the only thing that keeps them out of the planter, probably for its vague resemblance to the Holy Ghost.

The demon is especially smart.


10 million years of calculating brilliance.


Take a closer look.

She’s smarter and more ambitious than the Orpies, who once-upon-a-time gave me little trouble. They respected things like low fences and shadecloth barriers. They were afraid of the pond and wouldn’t dream of trampling the planters. But that was then. The Orpies have watched the demon, who fears nothing and wants everything, and learned her wicked ways. They are completely ruined.

evil hens

My kitchen.

I’ve had to clip all of their wings (demon still has a 3′ vertical jump thanks to her muscular, cloven legs) but this does little to curb the escapes and destruction. The only one who never gives me any trouble is Rufina. She’s perfect.


Blindness = chicken perfection.

Oh, and then there’s this: I GOTS A RACCOON IN MAH HOOOOOUSE!!!


Imagine the terror I felt one night not so long ago when I discovered that the dog food crunching noise at 3 a.m. wasn’t Velma (who in her old age was passed out next to my bed). ?? Imagine the terror as visions of a lunatic, dog-food eating crackhead flashed before my eyes. !! As I lay there frozen, with nothing but a geriatric dog to protect me. !!

Only after reconsidering the likelihood of a crackhead intruder stopping to fuel up at the dog food bowl did I work up the courage to turn on the light. And this is what I found. Sitting in Velma’s water dish. In my downtown Albuquerque hallway.

I told raccoon to leave and surprisingly, it did. Back through the kitchen and out the dog door, leaving little wet footprints in its wake. I now have to barricade the dog door at night and hope raccoon (or its skunk friend, also attracted to chicken utopia) don’t acquire a taste for hens, as some of my neighbors have unfortunately experienced.

The few times I’ve forgotten to barricade the dog door, raccoon returned and our exchanges went something like this:

[crunch crunch crunch]

me: [flip light on, raccoon continues to eat, undisturbed] You must leave at once!

raccoon: [maintains eye contact, hand in food dish] I’m gon git me sum fud

me: you cannot do that in my house!

raccoon: [maintains eye contact, keeps eating] I’m gon creep in yo kid’s bed

me: You must leave at once!! We’ve been through this before!

raccoon: [turns to leave, reconsiders, turns back] Not leavin without mah fud

me: GET OUT!!! [assumes Charlie’s Angel’s pose]

raccoon: [finally leaves, mumbling] I’m gon steal yo stuff…. devil chicken told me how tuh git in… [smirk]

So, this is my life.

I work. I spend too much time wrangling and cleaning up after chickens (except for Rufina, she’s perfect). I match wits with a raccoon in the middle of the night. Oh! And I almost forgot — as of about 2 years ago, I do Ashtanga yoga! Not because it’s fun or so athletic or cool blah blah blah.

No. I do it because one day, I will have an Instagram devoted exclusively to me posing in exotic locations.

kino yoga

“Lookie mah toes is touchin’ that buildin’!” (image via kinoyoga on Instagram)

But my traffic-stopping poses are years away. So in the meantime, I’ll settle for exotic chicken pictures and hope for a simpler tomorrow: a good night’s sleep, a house without wild or bedeviled animals, doves that keep their anchor babies to themselves, and a few more years in the company of a loyal old dog.

exotic chicken picture

Wanna follow me on Instagram? Do I look insane?



19 thoughts on “The Demon in My Backyard

  1. Don’t eyeball our house for your intelligent and bold chickens. We have Tom, the Three-legged Pit bull who would teach them how to defecate and lay eggs on the couch. Glad you’re finding time to write. Hilarious. And all true.

  2. Laura, your stories always make me chuckle. Thank you for sharing your wonderful sense of humor. Love that bit about the dove ‘anchor baby’.


    The dino devil who haunts me down here is the Maritaka: the living embodiment of malevolence. Wicked beyond measure.

    And Rufina is looking fantastic! You won’t believe it, but just last night I took her photo down to show a visiting friend, and tell her story.

    • Thank you John, great to see you here! And I can’t believe you have your own … embodiment of malevolence…. (good one!) Is it the one on the left? With the slightly slanted pupil? Getting ready to spit at the camera? You must write about it! Would love to be united in pain for what we do for these rotten animals. Ruby-Ru as I call her is doing very well these days, despite a close call of heat stroke this summer when she wandered too far away from her water dishes 😦 Thanks again for stopping by, and I’ll await another story of kangaroo caliber from you 🙂

  4. All this time I thought Demon story was going to be about the raccoon!!! Thanks for the eggs, and yes, you do look crazy!
    hysterical essay/confession/plea for help

  5. Oh, Laura, you are too good to that spawn of satan! The bright spot is how she has become your muse. I have missed the accounts of your always interesting home life. We have also experienced regret for having rescued dog refugees, but nothing quite so amusing. You have amassed a real pile of good karma.

    • Thanks Maggi, I do hope it’s been good for something, if not in this world than the next (assuming it’s not full of chickens). Thank you for reading — I wish I had more time for blogging but ah, the bereaved have called…. 😉

  6. Very entertaining! The raccoons are bold, ruthless and I’m amazed they haven’t taken to your chickens yet. The gang that rules my backyard nightly finished my pet desert box turtle (Dot) off a couple of months ago. They munched his head off and all 3 legs. The first leg they munched off last summer but I nursed him back to health with frequent doses of tea tree oil (in the shoulder hole where the leg was) augmented by a daily diet of sardines, chicken and veggies.

    • Aw Len, I’m really sorry to hear about Dot. That is really sad. Clearly, you are also captivated by and beholden to creatures in need. Must’ve been a pity, after all the work you did with your differently-abled little guy. And yes, I thank my lucky stars that raccoon & skunk seem more interested in hunting for roaches around the chicken coop than the chickens themselves. Hoping it stays that way because I would be devastated if any of them (rotten as they are, except for Rufina) met Dot’s fate. Ugh. Thanks for stopping by! ❤

  7. Oh my goodness, oh my dear! May I call you cuzzin? After all, Jerry…
    I am blown away by this delicious delightful delumpcious piece!
    Your daughter obviously got her writing and cinematic talents at her
    Mama’s knees!
    I’m lying down and trying to get strong after a surgical assault on my left knee.
    Your piece has been a ray of light stabbing me, tickling me, assaulting my
    senses in all the right ways so’s I now feel I can get up and go close
    the window as New York weather has turned to fall in this last nanosecond.

    I plan to head to your blog as soon as I stop giggling from this last one!
    Your Cousin Barbara, who styles herself “Bee.” (For Blanchard)

    • Hi Cuzzie Barbara, I’m so happy that I’ve helped with a post-op diversion! (Wishing you all the best with the new/improved implement.) Thank you for reading and commenting — it’s fun to get the stories out of my head and even more fun when they are appreciated by others. Recover well! xx

    • Why, thank you Ginger! I know that airport waiting was stiff competition, so I’m happy to have come out on the winning side of that one. Hope you had a great trip!!

Talk to me! I spend too much time alone in the studio.

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