You’ve likely heard the phrase “running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off”. How long does a chicken actually run around like that, though?
Most of the time the answer is “minutes”. Then there was Mike, who lasted for two years.
Lloyd Olson, a farmer, was having a fairly normal day on September 10, 1945. One task he was performing was slaughtering chickens. This normally entailed cutting off their heads, plucking them, reducing them to parts for food. Mike, however, was special. This chicken (not yet named) was to be dinner for the family, and because Lloyd’s mother-in-law was visiting, Lloyd took care to leave a little extra of what she found a particular delicacy, the neck. Lloyd took his axe and whacked off the chicken’s head…
And the chicken didn’t really do much. It didn’t keel over, notably. There was a little strand of flesh hanging between the head and the neck, and Lloyd felt odd not having the chicken die. Not knowing what else to do, he waited. And waited some more. The chicken, with its head removed, continued to walk around.
Lloyd had killed a bunch of other chickens that day, harvesting them for sale at market, so the family ate one of the other ones and left the standing chicken to die overnight.
It didn’t. When Lloyd found it the next day, the chicken was trying to peck for grain. Feeling sorry for the blind, beakless bird, Lloyd started giving it food and water down the exposed throat. He cut free the remaining strand of flesh, fully separating the head. Then the family named it “Mike” and adopted it as a pet.
The decision to leave as much as possible of the neck intact, combined with a convenient blood clot, allowed just enough brain stem and blood to keep the chicken alive.
Word quickly got around the local community, and Lloyd was encouraged to take his chicken to a university. Scientists verified that it wasn’t a fake and provided the explanation for the bird’s survival. Word spread, and Lloyd went on tour with Mike, showing off his headless chicken and posing for photographs with themselves, Lloyd, Mike, and Mike’s detached (and now dessicated) head.
In truth, though, there was a hoax involved. The head that so many people had in their photographs? Not Mike’s. That relic had quickly been snatched away by the family cat.
Question of the night: What’s your favorite chicken recipe?