backyardchickenfail


Yes, I Still have Chickens, and They Still Suck

Oh my god it’s been so long. I know you must have such burning
questions, like is silver a safe investment in an uncertain economy? Will Chaz
Bono continue to reinforce my desire to never watch Dancing with the Stars? And
why in God’s name would I pay $60 for a crappy seat to sit in the Tampa sun for
3 hours paying $10 a beer to watch the Bucs lose to Detroit? Why???

And chickens. Won’t somebody think about the chickens? Sorry I
haven’t been writing. I’ve been doing other things, like visiting 9 MLB
ballparks, driving cross country, scuba diving, transporting lobsters across
state lines, mountain climbing, pretending to be a through hiker on the Appalachian
Trail, and vehemently arguing that John Rich is still a douche even if his
celebrity apprentice charity was St Jude’s Children hospital. Hopefully by this
time you’ve adjusted and found other ways to fill the time that used to be
spent reading this blog. Perhaps you’ve taken up knitting, interpretive
dancing, or knife throwing. In any case whatever you’ve been doing was most
likely far more interesting than the intricacies of chickenry.

But you should keep reading, if only to find out how they all die.
Yeah, sorry to give away the ending to the Titanic, but these chickens are all
going down!

After the death of Barbie #1 the chi in the chicken universe was
off. Herding three chickens back into their pen was easy as two will always
group together and the third will eventually run to catch up to them. Corral
the buddy birds into the cube and the dipshit bird still running around the
yard would quickly come squawking in to join them. With only two remaining, the
buddy system was abandoned and I now had two dipshit birds running around every
hen for herself style. In an effort to keep me from punting the poultry I
decided I needed a third chicken.

At the feed store I asked about mingling chickens of different
ages. They said it was a 50/50 chance that the other birds would accept the
smaller ones. To me this meant one thing: Chicken Fight Club!

“I want you to peck me as hard as you can.”

“Ba gawk?”

“I want you to peck me as hard as you can!”

Better actors than Keanu

I bought three Rhode Island Red chicks even though I only wanted
one. The theory was that they’d have safety in numbers vs. the older chicks and
that some of them were likely to bite it, leaving me with my desired total of
3. I set up the replacements in their brooder and set to work building outdoor
housing that I could actually get outdoors this time.

Store bought coops cost hundreds of dollars, and home made ones
seemed difficulty considering my carpentry dyslexia. Since most coops ended up
looking like a house, I instead bought a $30 plastic doghouse off of
craigslist. I abandoned the cube look and opted for a triangle design that I
was smart enough to build outside this time. The resulting ghetto coop was
something any chicken would be proud to crap on.

I want to poop on you

I was weary to let the chickens run free with rogue felines
around. Research into cat deterrents lead me to a coyote/fox urine crystals
thing that I bought at the hardware store. If you had no idea urine crystals
were available, you’re not the only one. Judging by online reviews the
effectiveness of piss pellets is questionable at best. I sprinkled my yard
creating a urinary force field and kept a watchful eye on the outdoor birds.

After an uneventful few weeks I added the replacements into the
coop and was disappointed that a feathered Tyler Durden didn’t emerge. The new
chicks mixed with the old and created one big stinky feathered family. All was
going well and the thoughts of lurking danger faded away like the memory of the
BP Oil spill (eat gulf seafood).

And then, all hell broke loose…

The next entry: The Chickpocalypse



That chicken is deader than Willy Loman

A big part part of the backyard chicken experiment was to see if  I could ever kill  a chicken. I read up on the various methods other backyard farmers used and got squeamish at the thought of having to install a “kill cone” and Plexiglas “splatter guard.” Photos of well rounded youngsters holding up dead chickens in a creepy Children of the Corn kind of way taunted my lackluster killing skills.

Nerd

The only things I’ve ever killed, minus a duck I accidentally smoked while driving 70 miles per hour (awesome poof of feathers in the rear view), are lobsters. On a family reunion in New England we picked up 4 lobsters for dinner.  Word of advice: never cook lobsters with a veterinarian. Before I could even get the water boiling my sister the vet was already Googling “humane ways to kill a lobster.” The three tidbits of advice were 1. Put them in the freezer to slow down their vitals 2. Duck it head first in the water for a quicker kill 3. A quick cut down the length of the head for an immediate kill.

I argued against any compassion and said we should just boil them and get it over with.

Nope.

Instead the lobsters were thrown in the freezer for 30 minute. Did nothing except make them sassier.

Then we tried the “head first” method. I felt like I was torturing it for information. Didn’t work either. Just a half face boiled lobster now suited for a role in “Phantom of the Opera”

Next experiment was the knife slice. This would have worked if we had a chef grade tool like the guy in the video had. The dull knife lead to a few half ass stabbing attempts with a hacksaw completion.

So instead of simply boiling the lobsters for a quick death, they were frozen, water boarded, and stabbed in the head.

Remind me not to take my cat to my sister.

As an avid scuba diver, I also have a  jihad against Florida spiny lobsters. Unlike

Kind of like an episode of "Oz"

their Maine cousins, spiny lobsters have no claws so you  don’t take the whole thing home. You “tail” it. This equates to ripping off the tail, breaking off an antenna, shoving the antenna up the pooper, de-veining it,  and throwing the twitching and clicking front half  into the water. Sometimes you can even see the beating heart.

It’s  gruesome and there was no way I could do it.

Gradually it dawned on me that I wouldn’t be able to play the “girl card” forever and have someone do it for me. So I put on my gloves, grabbed the lobster, took a deep sadistic breath, and did it. The creepiest part was when the tail  twitched when I ran it under the water prior to cooking…two hours later. Just eww.

A lobster is basically a giant underwater insect making the guilt of killing a lobster on par with  squishing a bug. But a chicken, with it’s slightly soul full eyes, fluffy feathers, and various vocalizations. Could I kill one?

One month into chickening I learned that I did not possess chicken-killer instinct.

I was sitting in my office when I heard a commotion. The was rustling in the leaves, chickens frantically squawking, and squirrels barking out an alarm. I rushed out to the yard and saw two scattered and flustered hens, but where was the third? A quick survey of the yard and I found it, pinned under a black cat that I had seen in my yard before but never thought of until now. It scrambled over the fence as I ran toward it,  leaving it’s victim writhing in pain.

The chick was flopping on it’s back, a trickle of blood from its beak, obviously mortally wounded. It occurred to me what I was going to have to do and my stomach fell.  A trip to the vet passed briefly through my mind and I knew it was pointless. Not to mention the absurdity of saving an animal I had bought with the intention of killing.

“Shit, shit, shit.” I muttered as I headed to the garage to look for something to get the job done.

Shovel in hand I walked back out to the yard only to find that same fucking cat right back on the chicken! I chased it away a second time, wondering what kind of cat was so stealth and had such balls. He was clearly CIA. The only good thing was the bird was no longer moving. It was dead. Thank god!

I absolutely did not want to kill that chicken. Even to end it’s suffering, I couldn’t have done it. My philosophical question had been answered. If the cat hadn’t come back Plan B was to give it a few minutes and hope it would just die. Some farmer I am. Maybe I should just sign up  FarmVille.

Looking at the motionless bird brought a pang of guilt. It was my job to protect the girls and I had failed. After much debate, I decided to release this picture, even if it causes an uprising in the fundamentalist poultry community.

FAIL

In memory of Barbie #1, Urge to kill: -2.

The next post ” Meet Frankenchicken”