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Monday, June 21, 2004
And on this blog there were some chickens...
Can I get an "eee-i-eee-i-oh"?
Last night, I dreamt that I bought a small house in a rural area outside of McMinnville. An empty, blue chicken coup was sitting in the front yard. Intrigued, I decided it was time to get myself a few pets. I headed across the street to consult with a neighbor, who also had a flock in his front yard. He didn't understand what was asking, assumed that I was trying to steal his birds and was quickly chased off the property.
After looking up chickens in the Yellow Pages, I drove out to a sort of Poultry Petco. Inside, an enormous, Costco-size store offered everything from elaborate coups that resembled Victorian homes to 100 different breeds of chickens all waiting to be adopted. I bought a rooster and several hens, each of whom were transported home in cat carriers. Later, the rooster escaped and, as I was chasing him down the street, I woke up.
Overlooking a Freudian analysis of the dream, I got to thinking. How difficult would be to set up a chicken coup in my real front yard? Presuming that the city of Portland allows chickens to be kept as pets, I would have to track down a breeder. A search in a Yellow Pages yielded few options. Alas, there is no Poultry Petco in town. The nearest place to buy a chicken may well be the Burns Feed Store. They run around .80 cents.
Believe it or not, there are websites devoted entirely to this subject. The logistics of chicken care are a nightmare. Chickens are messy, "foul" creatures and cleaning up after them is a pain. They're also a magnet for predators. Raccoons are big fans and even skunks love to much on eggs. If I wanted to breed, I have to get a rooster and put him in a small crate every night to prevent him from crowing every morning at the break-a break-a dawn.
From there, I'd have to worry about pests, breaking up peck fights and incubating eggs.
I now know more about chickens then I ever wanted to (stupid subconscious). Here are few more fun facts:
- If you want to wash a chicken, it's best to use Dawn dish soap. It's gentle and removes the grease that tends to accumulate on feathers. Others recommend baby shampoo.
- A healthy hen can live from 5-10 years on an average, and can produce eggs for the better part of those years.
- It's rare but there are chicken hermaphrodites out there.
- Chickens occasionally eat their own poop. They cannot be housebroken.
- The easiest way to catch a chicken is to wait till it's roosting for the night. Then you pick it up, holding it gently but firmly like a football.
- Chicken mating usually lasts ten seconds from start finish.
- If you want to make a chickenwich, it's best not to choke your future meal. Choke...chicken...heh. A hatchet works best and, yes, their bodies do run around afterwards. For more info, there's a great story in the Mercury archives about this. Beware! You may go vegan after reading it.
- In some areas it is illegal to transport a chicken across state lines.
Chicken hermaphrodites? Yup, it's official. Not only is this the most random post to ever pop up on Welcome to Blog, it may also be the weirdest. Hooray!