Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Don't call me Chicken!

When I was 8, or something, Big Rachel, the neighbor girl, had chickens and her dad, Greg, was fixing to butcher them. In the past, after it was over, I'd gleaned my favorite parts, to save in a super secret garage corner: chicken feet with their natural puppeteering tendons.

This time, Big Rachel wanted to watch the bloody show. I didn't. But she eventually cajoled my reluctant little self into it. As we recently recapped every obscenely vivid detail, she noted, "You really didn't want to watch. But we pressured you into it. We were like, 'Common! It'll be fun!' But you didn't want to. And then the worst possible thing happened." I've never phrased it quite like that. But I'm certainly not going to argue with the assessment. And I've hated chickens ever since. If you've known me for 10 minutes, you know THAT! But I'm happy to eat their "young", their eggs, that is. I consider it an ounce of prevention.

To be clear: I do not hold Greg or Rachel responsible in any way for the trauma. How could anyone have possibly foreseen this? Except me, of course.

Greg popped each chicken into a PVC pipe, head sticking out, one solid whack with the ax, hold, and done. All went well... for a butchering. And then there was this one. I think it was white. The head came clean off, but the body popped out of the tube. Blood pulsed, 3 feet straight up from the open neck.

And it was off and running. After me!!! I dodged right, it dodged right. I dodged left. It dodged left! I double back around. It doubled back!! I glanced behind me. Yes: there was not a single head on the neck. The head was indeed laying at the chopping block. It's angelic white wings flapping as it ran. I was screaming and faint. My audience gawked helplessly. I climbed the tree fort with my last bit of strength. And that chicken plopped over, finally dead, at the bottom.

I'm not sure what I thought it would do once it caught me. Peck me? Squirt me with blood? Lay an egg on my face? Trample me with wire feet? Scare me more?

My kids love this story. They've introduced to their peers a new type of tag. One person is the chicken-with-it's-head-cut-off and everyone else is little Sarajoy's screaming and running from them. It's actually really cute.

Our friends' chicken houses became my home style Fear Factors. I'd dare myself to enter the coops. 20 to 100 chickens pecking at my jeans. The rush! The adrenaline! Yikes! Get me out of here!!! Her 10 year old daughter escorts my crumpled resolve out.

I tell you this today because a life time of poultry-phobia and abject chicken hatred just flew out the window in all of .006 seconds.

I was at the feed store...I don't know why...the chicks were so cute... and within an hour I'd ordered five layers and a coop kit.

And I can't convince myself to cancel the order!!!

I don't think I had repressed chicken-love under all that hate. I just suddenly changed, without expecting to. Lately, my true desires keep jumping out at me: gorgeous couches, cutting off a guest from the alcohol, anger and frustrations, the dorkiest joy dances, or a sudden change of chicken heart. Here I am, popping out all over the place!

The chicks in the mail. The world is full of mysteries, and so am I.


  1. What kind of chickens did you get? We are wanting to do the same but have to research the fox and badger issues in the area first.

  2. While inspired at the feed store, they only had meat chicks. So we went to MyPetChicken.com and took their helpful little chicken finder quiz which led us to: Buff Orpintons, and Plymouth Rocks. And then we read Chickens in the Backyard, or something like that. All those books make things sound SOOOO complicated! I'm glad I read it AFTER getting the chicks. Otherwise, I would have been really turned off. It appears that your supposed to clean their ears with rose-water dipped Q-tips and cleanse their vents with real sea sponges every night before you turn down their sheets and place the mints on their pillows.
    I'm sure if I ever read a book about cat care, I'd take King Louis right back to the pound. People that write those books are FANATICS, not casual chicken husbands.
    A warning, I have spent more on the chicks, the shipping, the coop, the feed, etc than my egg budget for 75 weeks. And we won't be getting eggs until spring! They say that homegrown eggs are NOT cheaper than store bought, just more interesting to acquire.
    There is a lot of good info in the books, however, including how to deal with predators. I think it involves coops with wire on the bottom as well as the sides and top. Also, cocks and dogs are good for keeping the marauders at bay, I've heard.
    I'm banking on loosing some chickens to unforeseen disasters. I just hope it won't be too disturbing and gross and that Huck's around to bury the remains for me.

  3. Hey Sarajoy, Your story is true. It is also funny, charming and show-cases your story sharing abilities! Love it!!
    Yes, Folks - I saw the whole thing!
    Candy (Greg's Wife and Big Rachel's Mom)



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