Saturday, June 30, 2018

Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather
Actually, the only thing I remember about chickens on the farm is that they were a form of entertainment for our dog. Mother would go out daily, putting out chicken feed for the birds in a long line and they would come greedily to peck away at their breakfast or dinner. That of course was the signal for our dog Max to go into action. His job as he saw it was to march along the line of feed picking at feathers here and there, causing mayhem among the chickens, sending them flying in all directions. Each must have derived some degree of pleasure from it because it was a twice daily ritual, always the same, with mother yelling at the fool dog to get outa there.
Well a kid on the farm wouldn’t think of the birds as anything but a roast on the Sunday dinner table when you watched them hanging in the barn getting their throats cut and being plucked and cleaned for the table or given away to city folks who might come out for a visit.
Who’da thought chickens might have personalities but my Tante Liese who was known as the egg lady in around her area all the way to Winnipeg Beach. Old Ab Marley, the paint salesman in my office and a real character would stop by her place weekly to pick up eggs asked her one day if he could go see the chickens. No, she said, they’d get all upset and stop laying their eggs. I remember him coming into the office with this tale that we were all laughing about.  
Well it turns out Tante Liese knew her birds better than most. One of her daughters confirmed that in a later conversation. It still didn’t register until one day recently I was watching something on TV. There was a lady there who, among other animals, kept a number of exotic chickens. Well, she would pick them up, rub their necks and ruffle their feathers, all to the birds’ enjoyment. Well, I never . . . even the visitors got to do it.
Chickens have never been good fliers, maybe good enough to get up into a tree, but little else. These days they are bred to be wider and heavier to provide huge breasts for the market. So for the birds it’s a lost cause. The millions of birds that are abused and force fed to provide more savory food for drooly mouthed buyers. No matter what they do, they’re still nothing more than a commodity.
A sad situation.

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