Chickens get a lot of unfairly bad-press. You know, expressions like “dumb cluck” , “chicken-hearted”, “chickenshit”, “madder ‘n a wet hen”, and so forth, and also for the widely believed myth that they have no idea why they have crossed a road. They know, they just ain’t saying.
People have developed misapprehensions about their tiny narrow heads and have concluded that there isn’t much room for cerebral capacity therein, evidenced by the myths that you can separate head from body and the chicken will carry on as though nothing has happened.
I’m about to set the record straight on those and other matters poultrywise.
I don’t know whether you’ve noticed that there’s been a considerable push lately by some people who refuse to accept the fact they live in cities and towns and who want to gain a hint of bucolia by, say, keeping chickens in the back yard.
I also understand the impulse at a personal level, for I too used to keep chickens in my back yard. Twice, in fact. Albeit those were more rural plots than can be boasted by most urban bungalows.
I liked keeping chickens for two reasons. One: the farm-fresh eggs were heavenly, and Two: I find chickens charming. They get to know you and they’re friendly once they do make a connection. They make cute little clucking noises when they’re happy or something wonderful has happened in their lives, like if a hapless earthworm unwittingly (do earthworms have any sort of thing as a wit?) slithers into the chicken run. The hens will grab said worm and they’ll compete for it and run after the hen that has it hanging from its beak. More fun than kids have a birthday party, even one with a pony.
They also make a very proud clucking when they’ve laid an egg since that is a blessed occasion. “Look what I did! Did you ever see such a wondrous egg? You can bet it was a bit of a strain pushing that sucker out, but it was worth it. I hope you enjoy it over-easy tomorrow morning.” I just added the last bit via conjecture. I don’t think hens abstract to the degree that they understand what happens to the egg after you unceremoniously apprehend it.
I did have a rooster for a time. He was a big, strapping handsome dude. He was a marvel of libido and had it away with assorted birds on many occasions during the course of any day. Damn but I was envious of his virility.
He also crowed with impunity and I agreed the sound could be a bit irritating. But, I learned to live with the noise mainly because that same noise irritated the shit out of my arrogant and cantankerous neighbor whom I thought (for good reason) was a prick. “You go, rooster boy!”
Of course, those enlightened communities that actually do permit backyard chickens do not permit roosters for the obvious noise reason. I understand that. And, roosters aren’t needed for good egg production. Actually, like human males, most females find they’re not really that good for anything other than eating and screwing. Hmm.
Anyway, I’m not planning to get any chickens even if my community decides to stop being so uppity-fuck and actually permits them. I just don’t want to worry about raccoons around the place, and I no longer want to clean chicken houses and runs. Although, I’ll confess our long ago chicken droppings gave us raspberries and rhubarb that were legend in the neighborhood.
So now if I want to interact with chickens all I need to do is go to Kauai. Ever since Hurricane Iniki back trashed a lot of poultry farms and allowed the liberated hens to intermix with the wild jungle fowl in the early 1990s Kauai has abounded in feral chickens and everybody seems fully accepting of them. So, you find them on the beaches and on the highways (where they are a very popular road-kill) in shopping malls, in the parks and I once went to a Rotary meeting in which a vociferous cockerel attempted (to my gratitude) to drown out a rather tiresome speaker.
Hens and geckos in abundance. You cannot get better than that in terms of fauna.