The Tragic Tale of Miracle Mike

If I’m honest, I’ve always been interested in Weird Shit. In 1994, we went on a family holiday to Cornwall and near the end of a fortnight crammed in a chalet that looked (and smelled) suspiciously as a garden shed from the 70s, my dad took us to The Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor. We shuffle inside and stop for lunch before my dad takes us next door to the pub and into the neighboring museum.

Stepping out of the wind and through a thick wooden door into a dark museum, we find ourselves confronted with hundreds of relics and jars - the majority of which were full of pickled ‘curiosities’. Like I say, this was back in 1994, so perhaps the museum has changed since then, but on that afternoon, I marveled at the deformed animals preserved delicately in glass jars. Although we had internet access back home then, the web was still short of even, and this museum was full of the bizarrest, weirdest shit that 15 year old me had ever seen.

Two faced lamb? Seen it. Two headed chicken? Seen it. Cyclops cow? Seen it and loved it. I was obsessed. Even now, when Joseph the Carpet Bagger on YouTube goes to a museum of curiosities on his travels, I’m tuned in. Curiosity Museums are like libraries of Weird Shit before we had the internet and I could look the stuff up in my pyjamas on the reg.

Obviously, years passed and I grew taller and the internet developed into a lot more than online encyclopaedias, and this is when I discovered the story of Miracle Mike. Born in 1945, Mike was a cockerel that lived a relatively happy life on a farm in Colorado. One evening, the mother-in-law was due over for supper, and the farmer's wife sent husband Lloyd Olsen into the yard to kill a bird for dinner.

Lloyd chose Mike, and took him and an axe into the barn to do the deed. However, as Mike is indeed a miracle, Lloyd's clumsy hack with the axe missed his jugular completely, leaving most of the brain stem and one ear intact. What was left was pretty much a very alive, albeit stunned, headless chicken. Lloyd couldn't bring himself to take a second shot and so he spent the following weeks feeding Mike with an eyedropper and watching the chicken's progress with a peculiar curiosity.

Once Mike had got used to his new centre of balance, he behaved like any other chicken would- he could fly up to perches, peck for food with his stumpy neck and crow- although to be fair it was little more than a gurgle. He would spend his time preening himself and seemed oblivious to the fact that he had no head. Soon, a word about Miracle Mike had spread and soon Lloyd was touring with sideshows, often exhibited with a two-headed calf. It cost 25 cents per person to see Mike, and at the height of his fame, he was earning $4,500 each month for Lloyd.

Mike's success was bad news for other chickens though as there was a spate of chicken beheadings by local farmers eager to pull in the same money for what would've been a mutilated cockerel. Sadly, most of the copycat cockerels died a couple of days afterward.

In the end, after 18 months and a non-stop tour of the country, Miracle Mike had started choking in the middle of the night. When Lloyd rushed to his side, he realised that the eyedropper he used to feed Mike and the only instrument which could unblock his airway had been left in their last hotel room, and Miracle Mike died that night.

On the upside though, Miracle Mike the Headless Chicken is now an institution in Colorado, and he is celebrated during the third weekend in May every year by residents with a big party featuring games and events like the '5k Run Like A Headless Chicken' race, 'Pin The Head On The Chicken' and Chicken Muck Bingo, where bystanders bet on a numbered grid laid out in a field and a chicken is released to poo on the squares.

Written by EJ, who was home-educated by parents who clearly encouraged her to look at Weird Shit from a very early age.

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