Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Trouble With Chickens


I've got to buy eggs today and it will be the first time in months.  That's because up til now my friend Lois and her husband Brian have been providing us with eggs from their own chickens.   We've enjoyed them, especially our three-egg vegetable and cheese omelettes.  Actually some of them could be called five or six-egg omelettes because of the size of those suckers. I strongly suspect we may have had some duck or possibly turkey eggs in the mix.  At least I hope so.  I can't imagine some poor little hen laying those gargantuan things. She'd be walking around like a bow-legged cowboy.  Oh, and we've not been the only one to benefit from the egg surplus.  Lois has brought dozens of cartons full of the preferred brown variety to share with the church folk and has provided enough for several church events, all involving food of course.

Therefore you can imagine my disappointment when I saw the message Lois left on facebook about a week or so ago:  It went something like this:  "Dear friends.  Between the bobcat, the fox and the raccoons, our poor chickens are almost gone.  And did I mention the bear, the BIG bear?  At this point we aren't even sure if we'll start over again with baby chickens.  Will keep you all posted."  I happen to know that Lois is at camp this week bemoaning the fact that Brian can't be with her this year.  That's because he's staying up through the night watching for varmints who might be coming after the last of his chickens or one of his ducks or turkeys.  Last I heard he'd gotten two foxes and two coyotes.  Yep, coyotes too.  And no, this is far from over.  A man suffering from sleep deprivation and a woman missing her husband at camp all for the sake of a few chickens.
 

We had chickens only once that I can remember.  We got some baby chicks from the Whitneys, a family  who rode our bus.  My mom loved animals, and it seemed like she was a real pushover when we asked for a new pet.  When our neighbors had a nice litter of kittens, she said we could get one.  Well, I liked the little long-haired multicolored one and my brother Rex liked the short-haired yellow one. She let us get both.  So I obviously told her that  the Whitneys had baby chickens and asked if we could get a few.  I liked them until I got pooped on right before the school bus arrived one morning.  I lost interest in them after that.  They grew up and roamed the old canal that ran behind our house, and I'm assuming my dad probably chopped off their heads so we could eat them since they suddenly weren't there anymore.

We weren't meant to be chicken people anyways.  We were rabbit people.  My dad always had a bunch of them out in his pen and just as many in the freezer.  We never had coyotes or bear to contend with, but one night after he'd gone to bed there was a horrible squealing coming from out back.  He quickly rose out of bed and found a mink chewing off the feet of the rabbits through the pen floor.  He grabbed a wooden stilt that he'd made for us and hit it over the side of the head.  That's about the most exciting thing that ever happened to us being rabbit people and all. 

 
Larry used to spend his summers at his cousins' farm in Castile, New York.  One day he was asked to chase down a few chickens and prepare them for supper.  Well,  everyone knows what happens when a chicken gets its head chopped off, it runs around like a chicken with its head cut off.  So rather than put up with that nonsense, he decided he was going to pelt them with corn cobs to do them in.  He felt pretty smug at figuring out how to slaughter the poultry in a brand-new way until  Marion went to fry them up and discovered they were covered with massive bruises.  I don't think he was allowed to kill any more chickens after that.
 
 
I've never quite understood why someone would have a pet chicken, but I know a lady in Prattville, Alabama who absolutely loves them.  As long as I've known her she's had a pet chicken that sleeps on her back porch.  I can't imagine cozying up to a little red hen or a banty rooster sitting on my lap, but I guess to each his own.  And I read that if a chicken is treated really well, it can live up to twenty years or so. Come to think of it, that's longer than the more common pets usually live.  Plus you wouldn't have to have that little backyard funeral that we always had with our cats and dogs and goldfish and such.  You could just eat your pet for dinner.


 
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