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I’m gonna tell ya, being a chicken farmer isn’t exactly what Thomas thought it would be. It is, however, exactly what I thought it would be. Horrible. Do you know why? Cuz I’m the one farming.

And guess what? Chickens get lonely. Who knew? So not only do we own Jenny, our first hen (worst anniversary gift ever), but we’ve added Jennifer (Lawrence) and Jen (Aniston). Heaven forbid Jenny doesn’t have a friend to help chase me around the coop.

In addition, Thomas thinks the hens should be different breeds. According to him, “Chicken farming is like planting a flower garden. It’s important to have a variety of feathers, textures, plumes, color and height to add interest.”

Not only that, he complains about my “obsession” with Target but thinks three chickens must have a coop larger than my dining room and a chicken run the size of a volleyball court. It’s gonna take decades of egg production to pay off their custom-built home.

My favorite part? On average, three hens are needed to produce a dozen eggs a week. Five people live in our house. We’re still buying eggs from the store.

Why am I going on about the Jennies? Because Jennifer (Lawrence) has flown the coop.

Other than natural predators (let’s count our pets in this category), there are human suspects to consider. Random strangers or my red-headed nemesis neighbor (she’s been complaining about the Js) could have sneaked into the backyard, but we have a motion-sensor camera on our gate, and there wasn’t evidence of a midnight prowler. I can rule out myself and Thomas, which leaves our three girls.

To be fair, it could’ve been any one of them. They each have motives. There’s an animal lover, prankster and newbie vegan.

“Mandatory family meeting in the kitchen,” I yelled up the stairs. “Also, bring down all your dishes!”

“What’s up?” the prankster asked, carefully balancing her armload of dishes on top of her sisters’.

“Jennifer’s missing,” I said.

“How?” the animal lover asked.

“No idea,” I said. “But we need to form a search party and inform the public. Who wants to make fliers?”

“I can,” the vegan raised her hand.

“Great,” I said. “We need to put a description along with Jennifer’s picture on the local lost-and-found websites.”

“I’ll do it,” the prankster volunteered.

“And we to need to interview the neighbors. There could be a chicken thief living next to us.”

“Mom, I can save a lot of time,” the vegan said, pulling a deck of tarot cards from her back pocket. “We can use these.”

“Or your Ouija board,” the prankster suggested. “It’s very accurate.”

“No!” the vegan shuffled the cards. “Last time you were moving it around.”

“Was not.”

“There is no way I’m supposed to marry Godzilla.”

“You’d make a perfect couple.”

“Knock it off,” I said. “We have a lot to do if we’re going to find — wait. Why do you have tarot cards and a Ouija board?”

“She also has a voodoo doll that looks remarkably like you,” the animal lover said.

“What?” I asked. “You’re into voodoo now?”

“Mom, chill,” the vegan said. “It’s no big deal. I’m only a beginner. I don’t know how to do much unless your left leg’s felt stabby. Because then I’m progressing faster than the YouTube video said I would. Has it felt stabby?”

“No, it hasn’t felt stabby,” I looked out the front window and saw my nemesis neighbor. “Can you make a new doll? Preferably one with red hair.”

“That’s not very nice,” the vegan said.

“Are you kidding me? You’re trying to make my leg feel stabby.”

“Settle,” she said.

I looked at Thomas. “Are you going to do something about this?”

“Does your leg feel stabby?” he asked.


“Then you’re fine,” he said. “What’s important is we need to find Jennifer. Put on your shoes. We’re going chicken hunting.”

“But I haven’t used

my tarot cards?” the vegan said.

“Just put on your shoes,” I opened the laundry room door. “Where’s my hat?” I riffled through the junk shoved in the sink. “Found it.” I pulled the hat from beneath a pile of empty Domino’s boxes and found a pile of chicken bones inside it. I screamed and dropped the hat. “I found Jennifer!” I pushed the bones away with my foot. “Or what’s left of her.”

Thomas and the girls ran into the laundry room.

“Did you sacrifice the chicken?” I yelled at the fledgling voodoo witch.

“No way!” she said as she kicked the bones at me. “Vegans don’t slaughter chickens.”

“Shh, listen,” the animal lover said.

There was a muffled buck-buck-buck, and I noticed the prankster giggling in the corner. I opened the dryer door to find Jennifer proudly crowing at the two eggs resting on the bottom of the dryer.

“Two eggs in the dryer are better than one in the coop,” Thomas said, grabbing Jennifer. “I think Jennifer’s found her

‘she shed,’ or ‘hen shed.’”

Krista Vance is a former Champaign resident. While she now calls northern Colorado home, she spent five wonderful years here and misses great friends, corn and big-sky sunsets.

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