Top

dining

Stories

 

Beware of Pussies and Cocks

Tips for the prospective chicken owner

Alice was a magnificent Rhode Island Red. She never did me wrong, listened patiently to my hopes and dreams, and enjoyed it whenever I tickled her gullet. And she laid an egg every day that I enjoyed as part of a well-rounded breakfast.

That I didn't immediately kill Alice for her sweet meat was ironic considering chicken à la anything is my favorite dish. But owning Alice for three years taught me to appreciate the much-maligned gallus domesticus as one of nature's greatest animals—and it will do the same for you.

If having a chicken as a pet or heralding its non-rotisserie ways seems weird, well, screw you, dog-lover. Our manufactured-food world has shaped your mind so that you can only think of poultry in terms of drumsticks and garlic sauce. Orange County pet-ownership regulations, meanwhile, ensure that few suburbanites will ever own a chicken. Anaheim's bylaws, for example, allow only one chicken per 1,800 square feet of property while having no limits on the possession of small monkeys.

All a shame, since chickens are among the coolest pets you can own. Not only are they low-maintenance and friendly, but the plump females are also a never-ending food source that allow their offspring to be eaten without hitting you with a paternity suit.

The humble birds get a bad rap for their empty-headed ways. "Stupidity is the devil," German film director Werner Herzog once said. "Look in the eye of a chicken and you'll know. It's the most horrifying, cannibalistic and nightmarish creature in this world." Herzog must have owned a dog.

In reality, chickens are docile gals that will never maul your young or leave hairs around the house. All they ask for is a place to roost and some water. Put it out on a lawn, and it will eat happy for the rest of its life (stay away from chicken scratch; the corn is probably so genetically modified your Alice might turn into Al overnight). Give it a dirt pile, and you've given it a Jacuzzi (chickens take dirt baths). More important, chickens don't require constant adoration like mutts or a scratching post like a feline to reciprocate your love.

Beware of those two house beasts, as they will be your chicken's biggest enemy. They'll try to snatch your chick at every opportunity to eviscerate it. (I've seen the horrific aftermath.)

Raising a chicken will teach you to love the contented noises they make as they scratch the ground looking for food. And you'll love your own Alice even more when she lays an egg for your consumption.

Most chickens produce an egg every day, and once in a great while, they'll give you two. The egg will vary in color, size and taste, according to breed. The bounty of a Rhode Island Red, for instance, are a pantyhose brown color and a little bigger than store-bought eggs. They taste a bit yolkier than white-shell eggs and are supposed to be more nutritious than their albino sisters.

The onslaught of eggs the chicken will lay and her constant cooing when she matures might tempt you to buy a rooster. Don't. Yes, no electronic gadget can beat a rooster for an alarm clock. And having a girl and a boy means more egg-layers will be born. Roosters are men, though, and they guard their women with the jealousy of O.J. I still have the scar from a cock stabbing my hand with his spurs after I tried to give Alice food. That particular rooster was so evil I gave him to a man who had a ranch in Riverside; last I heard, the devil bird was dominating the Southland cockfighting scene.

Chickens are different. They are patient and kind. Chickens are not jealous. They bear many eggs and believe you to be God. You should get one. Feel free to contact me here at the paper for all of your chicken questions.

Just don't ask me about how Alice tasted, barbarians.

 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Loading...