“Miracle” & “Chicken” are not words that, in ordinary circumstances, you would expect to see in the same sentence outside a KFC. However, this photo of Mike may make the point:
(and yes, that is Mike's head at his feet; Mike survived for 18 months without a head, and could probably have survived for longer if the farmer had not made a mistake)
On 10 September 1945 Lloyd Olsen was killing chickens on his & his wife Clara's farm in Fruita, Colorado. There was nothing unusual in that; it is the sort of thing that almost every farmer did on every farm in Colorado in 1945. However, after decapitating one of those 50 chickens with his axe, it got back up onto it's feet and walked away. That was a little unusual.
It was still walking around at bedtime, so they put it in an old apple box on the porch (which was screened). The next morning, it was still alive!
Lloyd now did what every impoverished American farmer does as second nature:- he began to make money from Mike (as the chicken was now dubbed).
Mike was paraded around town. The local Fruita paper wrote a story on it. A side-show promoter came 300 miles from Salt Lake City, Utah & suggested that they hit the road with Mike - which is exactly what they did. Life Magazine came to Utah to marvel over ‘Miracle Mike the Headless Chicken’ & wrote it's own story.
Clara documented all the travels & their stories. They kept the farm & returned to collect the harvest, but Mike supplied the extra money for new farm equipment, animals & even a Chevrolet Pickup truck. Then, in the Spring of 1947, it all came crashing to a halt.
Mike was fed with liquid food and water dropped directly into his oesophagus. Another vital bodily function the Olsens helped with was clearing mucus from his throat. They fed him with a dropper, and cleared his throat with a syringe.
The night Mike died, they were woken in their motel room by the sound of the bird choking. When they looked for the syringe they realised they had left it at the sideshow, and before they could find an alternative, Mike suffocated. The gravy train stopped.
Mike is still celebrated in Fruita, which holds the Headless Chicken festival every year in May & has a statue commemorating him in the centre of town (clearly, not a lot normally happens in Fruita).
--------- Alex Kemp