While the journey towards goat ownership draws to a temporary halt, I would like to take the time to discuss another topic that is near and dear to my heart, the topic of chickens. As many of you already know, Tommy and I are the proud owners of 12 baby chickens. And while I won’t bore you non chicken enthusiasts with a long list of breed names (email me if curious!) I will say that we are now in possession of several rare and fancy chickens. We are not entirely new to chicken ownership, we currently have an assortment of chickens living in our backyard coop, including Peter our rehabilitated sociopath rooster (he had a thing for eyeballs), and Egg Drop, our best layer- purchased from a toothless women on the side of the road who had a dilapidated wooden sign advertising “GoOD LayInG Chix”. This is, however, our first time raising chicks from such a tender age. I will tell you it is a much different experience. Perhaps it’s an entirely misplaced biological urge, but I cannot help but feel intensely maternal towards them; I am like a giant, featherless, mother hen carefully nurturing her brood. Honestly, If Tommy wasn’t around to monitor my comings and goings I am sure I would have attempted to insert a few under my bottom by now. I am told by many parents of multiple children that you do not pick favorites among them, that parental love is an extraordinary devotion bestowed upon each child equally, regardless of the surprising anomalies which occur between siblings who share 99.95% identical DNA . Despite the odd case of a profound lisp,strangely set eyeballs, kleptomania or an obvious and extreme personality disorder, parents still insist upon a deep and abiding neutrality in their fondness for their offspring. I could only have assumed that I should fall into this same category: I love my cats and dogs equally, and although I find Shelly the turtle’s rollicking antics more entertaining than Yurtle’s timid and some what morose disposition, in the event of a food shortage I really couldn’t tell you with any certainty who I would eat first. This was my belief system until I met Flossie the chicken. Flossie was the smallest of the clutch: a fluffy, gray chick with a charmingly peculiar poof of feathers atop her head-a flawless specimen of the already exceptional Silver Laced Polish chicken breed. And although Flossie was undoubtedly the cutest chicken to ever have existed since the first descendants of the red jungle fowl began to hang around ancient peoples eating mammoth scraps, it wasn’t just her good looks that attracted me, it was her indomitable spirit.
Flossie is blessed with pure, unadulterated, chicken magnetism. From day one Flossie would jump around and peck inquisitively at my fingers; while her sisters ate their first bite of chick crumbles with a uniform lethargy, Flossie leaped and scratched around the food trough, joyfully throwing crumbles into the air and ( I swear) catching them gracefully in her tiny beak. Now a days, in the evening when, after a day of lively pecking, preening and silvery cheeping, she grows weary, Flossie sleeps nestled under my chin, her now teen aged, spiky head lolling about on it’s comically tiny neck.
Recently while researching chicken shows and previewing entry forms for next year’s fair circuit, the time when Flossie will finally be a hen; fully feathered and crowned, I read the standards for a “quality” show chicken. I studied the clinical diagram, with it’s arrows pointing to the ideal chickens body part’s. The ideal chicken with: ” a soft pliable abdomen” , “pubic bones that are at least three finger widths apart from one another” (how this will be determined brings me some discomfort) and finally a “fully feathered body with supremely glossy plumage”. I read this and I felt a profound confidence. I am confident my Flossie”s abdomen will be the softest and most pliable, her vent the most perfectly sized and shaped egg delivery apparatus, her plumage the envy of even the most ornate jungle parrot.
More importantly however, I know it’s her spirit that will shine, I know Flossie’s essential nature is so wonderfully infectious that no one can simply pass her by. I can see the judges now: entranced by those captivating eyes of her’s, hidden deep within her marvelous crown of feathers. The judges are still, almost hypnotized by her, then startled they quickly snap back to reality, each thinking: “this is crazy but I swear I just saw that chicken wink at me!”. You see, Flossie was born for this. It is true that I love all my chickens, from the neurotic Campy to the almost pathologically laid back Guloush. But Flossie- my exquisite, dynamic, beloved Flossie- stands on a perch high above the rest. And despite all the uncertainties surrounding us, I have no doubt about it. Together, Flossie and I are going all the way.