Of all her new chores, Maisie likes taking care of the chickens the least. On the other hand, sometimes chickens have reason to be chicken.

Slight spoilers for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Warning, implied cruelty (or at least the circle of life is very much involved) with regards to chickens.

A sudden, loud chattering was enough to distract Maisie from her book, and she looked at the open window with a frown. The chickens were pitching a fit again, and it sounded like a right royal one this time.

Maisie shook her head as she grabbed her bookmark off the bedside table and rolled to her feet. She'd never seen a live real live chicken before coming to live with Owen and Claire, but after a few minutes of watching them when Owen had first brought them home—the first livestock for their ranch, he'd insisted, despite Claire's eye roll—she'd found herself decidedly unimpressed. A feeling that had only grown when she'd found out that taking care of them was going to be her responsibility.

As she'd learned, chickens were afraid of everything, and they were noisy about it. Hunger and thirst, even though she fed them first thing every single morning: terrifying conditions that must be chattered about. Her coming into their enclosure do said feeding and water: a terrifying condition that must be chattered about also every single day. Laying an egg—basically their purpose in life—was terrifying and must be chattered about. Her removing the eggs, yet another everyday occurrence, was even more terrifying and chatter inducing. Too hot, the same; too cold, the same; her adjusting the shade screen or the small box heater to fix either of those conditions, most definitely the same.

More terrified chatter when anything even vaguely predator-like approached which was about the only one she could understand since it wasn't something that happened every day, and yet when the chickens themselves couldn't get past the walls and wire that protected them from those threats that was completely terrifying and chatter-worthy too. Generally speaking, chickens were terrified and noisy, and while most of the time living on a sort-of-ranch was fun, she really wished that they could get their eggs from the supermarket like normal people. Owen talked sometimes about bigger animals, cattle, mostly, maybe even a horse or two, but so far it hadn't happened. Then again, they only had half a barn at the moment. That was his current project.

Maisie set the book aside and leaned out her window to see if she could see what was bothering the stupid birds this time. Maybe one of the neighbors had come by? Chickens didn't like strangers, either, and not that they had many neighbors out here, but she'd seen plenty of people in town when she'd accompanied Claire or Owen to pick something up. And Claire had said that the school bus would pick her up right at the end of the driveway starting in a month or so so there must be other kids living around here somewhere.

Maisie's lips twitched up into a quick grin at the thought of going to a real school. Not that she hadn't loved living with Grandfather and Iris, but sometimes it would have been nice to have another kid her own age to play with. Or another kid of any age, really. A whole class—a whole school—of them was going to be fun.

No neighbors, kids or otherwise, were in sight, though, and when she twisted her head to see up past the window awning there weren't any hawks either. But she'd already done the feeding, watering, and egg collection for the day, and it wasn't like it was that hot out, so what was their—oh. "Owen, the chickens are not happy!"

"The chickens are never happy," Claire called from her office, sounding more than a little irate. "Owen, so help me, if you don't move that coop to the other side of the barn we are eating nothing but chicken stew for the rest of the month. One phone call where I have to explain cackling to a US Senator is one too many!"

Eating all of them actually sounded really good to Maisie, but if she was right they were going to cease to be a problem pretty quickly anyway. "Owen, really!"

Heavy footsteps came up the stairs quickly—two or three at a time; Claire complained more about him running in the house than Maisie—and then he was just behind her looking over her head with Claire right on his heels.


Blue looked up from her examination of the contents of the chicken coop at them, and Maisie would almost swear that she smiled. She definitely clicked in their direction. And then, to the even greater agitation of the chickens, she hooked a claw around the wire mesh surrounding their enclosure and pulled.

"That's my girl," Owen said, smiling wider than he had almost since they'd arrived. "I'll call the butcher and put in an order to tide us over for the next couple days," He shook his head. "I wonder how much a herd of goats costs."

Probably staying a one-shot since the logistics of keeping a known man-eating raptor on a ranch escape me, but thanks in advance to everyone who read. As always, reviews are appreciated.