Feels Just Like Chicken
From time to time in my blog, I have talked about our grand experiment of raising chickens. We have two roosters, Chuck and Awesome, and fifteen hens. Although I swore I wouldn’t name them, my son and I went ahead and named most of them anyway. It started with two Rhode Island Reds, Edna (named after Mrs Garret from The Facts of Life) and Ermengarde – who my daughter renamed Ermahgerd! because that poor chicken is in a constant state of panic. Then we got Blackie, Goldie, Sweetie, Dumbass, Shithead and the Derps.
Can you tell which ones were named by my son, and which ones were named by me?
I have come to enjoy my “ladies”. I love to watch them run. I get a kick out of the way they race each other to get to me when I step outside and call, “Chick-CHICK!”. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I collect a basket of eggs. I have learned more than I ever thought I would about raising chickens and taking care of them.
Not to mention the fact that I have perfected the art of making omelets. My fussy fourteen year-old son loves a three-egg salami and Velveeta omelet.
Oh, don’t groan. This is not your child.
This is a boy who would gladly go through life eating nothing but Tater-Tot Casserole and oatmeal cookies, so I am thrilled whenever I find a dish that he actually likes. Even if there is not enough toothpaste and mouthwash in the world to handle what takes place in his mouth after eating a three-egg salami and Velveeta omelet.
But the chickens have also turned out to be a lot more work than we expected. The Big Guy has recently begun to make comments about selling them on Craigslist or having them butchered, and I have to admit that I’m not too upset about the possibility. It’s not that we mind feeding them or mucking out the poop in the coop. It’s not even about having to have someone at home at dusk every single night to make sure they are locked up safely.
It’s about the weird stuff, like what we just went through with Rosie, the big black Australorp.
Last week, we noticed that she has been spending a lot of time in the nesting boxes. We wondered if she was coming outside to eat or drink at all, or if she was just going to starve to death right there in the box. I started slipping her apple slices and petting her until the Big Guy decided that it was time to step in.
He put on his heaviest work gloves, asked me to open the lid of the nesting boxes, and gently lifted the bird out. I assumed he was going to set her on the ground in front of the food and water dishes, so I was surprised when he promptly turned her upside-down and held her out toward me with a command to “Feel that”.
“Feel her butt, see if you can feel an egg stuck in there.”
“No, thank you.”
“Come on, just feel around down there.”
I gave a few half-hearted pokes with one finger and pronounced her normal. After all, I didn’t have a huge range of other chicken butts to compare it to. Oddly enough, it’s a matter of pride for me that this was the first time I have ever touched a chicken’s butt.
The Big Guy, however, was not impressed. “You’ve got to really get in there and feel around for an egg. If she’s egg-bound, you should be able to feel it. She could die from this.”
“So could you if you keep telling to me stick my finger up a chicken’s ass.”
He put her down, and I set out a mini-buffet of peach and apple slices, lettuce and other various supper scraps. She wolfed it down, drank some water and started running laps around the yard, cackling like one of MacBeth’s witches.
“Looks pretty healthy to me,” I observed.
He did some research that night and decided that Rosie wasn’t egg-bound; she was “broody”. And apparently, the cure for a broody hen is to make her uncomfortable in her nesting box so that she will want to go outside. He came up with a plan.
Which is how I ended up spending three days shoving an icepack under that stupid chicken’s butt every hour, on the hour.
Let me be perfectly clear on this: I went to college. I was a National Merit Scholarship Finalist. I am a published author.
And I have been reduced to feeling up chickens and shoving icepacks under their butts.
Life is not going as I expected.
On a positive note, Awesome the Rooster may have made a fatal error last week. After weeks of chasing the kids and me all over the yard, Mr. Awesome came up with the bright idea of charging the only person in the world who actually likes him: The Big Guy.
Big Guy was unarmed at the time. I have defended myself against that rooster with everything from a metal basket to a cake pan to a rake, but my loving husband had nothing but his hands to fend off the attack. He was wearing his work gloves, and he smacked Awesome as hard as he could to stop the attack. Full-on, right in the face. KaPow.
That’s right. My husband punched a rooster.
My Knight in Shining Carrharts.
Awesome also attacked my neighbor yesterday when the poor man stopped by to drop off some pears for us. The neighbor shooed him away and commented to me that Awesome would look very good in a roasting pan. If our rooster disappears, I think we all know where he’s gone.
I won’t miss him.
I might even shoo him across the street into the neighbor’s yard to make things a little easier.