Judging a bawk by its cover
A far cry from her first few weeks of life — hatched in a loud factory and then crammed inside a dirty cage to await death by ritual sacrifice — a one-eyed Cornish hen cross named Winky will debut as an unlikely cover girl.
Coming next week from Ashland Creek Press, a local independent publisher of eco-literature, the third installment in the short-fiction series “Among Animals” highlights tales of struggle, survival and “the ins and outs of the complex relationships among humans and animals.”
Rescued at six weeks of age in 2019, by Tikkun Olam Farm Sanctuary in Phoenix, Winky was one of 70,000 birds purchased that year by New York City synagogues for kapparot, a ritual performed by a small group of Orthodox Jews.
Hadassah Dejack-Reynolds, executive director of Tikkun Olam, said Winky is one of 39 rescued birds at her sanctuary, most of whom were spared from the annual sacrifice.
“She would have otherwise gone to be slaughtered for somebody’s meal if she hadn’t been marked for the ritual. I don’t know if you can compare one death as worse than another, but these birds are purchased and kept in crates for a week with no food or water before they’re killed in a horrific way.” Dejack-Reynolds said.
“Every year, our sanctuary works with activists in New York City who are rescuing these birds from ritual, and we work as part of an alliance to end the practice to using chickens for kapparot.”
Winky now spends her days — having lost one eye in transport after her rescue — soaking up the sunshine and waiting for mealtime visits with friendly volunteers.
Tikkun Olam, which means “repair the world,” began as a Talent-based nonprofit in 2018. Recently moved to Phoenix, the sanctuary hopes to continue its mission to save abused, neglected and unwanted animals.
While Winky isn’t the kind of girl to fuss about her celebrity, “keeping her emotions close to her vest,” according to Dejack-Reynolds, sanctuary staff and volunteers are excited for one of their rescue birds to be featured on the cover of the upcoming book.
Midge Raymond, co-founder and publisher for Ashland Creek Press, said the stories, which have an international reach, are intended to give pause. Highlighting a local rescue animal, especially a chicken, was a fun twist, she noted.
“Our anthologies feature writers from all over the world, but we were especially thrilled to be able to include Winky on the cover. It’s always amazing and fun to celebrate people doing great things locally,” Raymond said.
Raymond’s partner, Ashland Creek Press co-founder John Yunker, photographed Winky for her big debut.
“As soon as we began working on this book, we knew that we wanted to feature a chicken on the cover. We had previously done a fox and a deer. People see those animals a lot and they think of them as being more … furry and cute,” Yunker said.
“Chickens are not an animal people see featured very often. They tend to get overlooked. We have a lot of bird stories in this anthology, from crows to hawks to chickens. While fox and deer might be thought to have more charisma, we think that’s only because people just don’t really know chickens.”
Dejack-Reynolds said it was heartwarming to think of Winky’s story perhaps making a small impact on the hearts of readers.
“My heart was so full to see this bird that was destined to be killed in a ritual slaughter, and now she’s on the cover of a beautiful book,” she added.
“Chickens are one of the most mistreated animals on the planet, so I absolutely love that they chose a chicken to represent the incredible work that they do. It’s very touching.”
To pre-order a copy of “Among Animals 3,” set for release April 12, check with local bookstores or visit online, Ashlandcreekpress.com/books/amonganimals3.html
For more info on Tikkun Olam Farm Sanctuary, and Winky, see www.facebook.com/tofsanctuary
Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at email@example.com.