We had our first brush with traumatic chicken injury yesterday. It wasn’t so much actual injury, per se, but what we saw made us examine our hearts, search our souls, and choose between two awful options. A cloud passed between us and the sun, and a bitter wind blew through the backyard as Angie approached me.
Easy, now. I’m just kidding about all that portent of doom stuff. Here’s the story:
I’d been decluttering the backyard from the harsh prairie winter, and she had in her hand, the promised scraps of bandanna – cut to place around the chick’s necks. We excitedly crowded into the coop, Angie set up her ‘observation chair’ (a small white stool that we keep outside the coop so it remains poop-free), and I squatted on an edge frame board. Ang had assigned bandanna colors to each a while ago, and had cut the bandannas to size. Once these were placed around each of their necks, they’d be ready to rob banks – just like in Point Break (except for they were humans, and they wore ex-president masks). Ok, just like in Butch and Sundance – without the bicycle scene and the girl on the handlebars.
So, we began the move to chick identification; all the good parts of labeling and categorizing without any of the trauma of making a group of residents wear identifying clothing. We were determined not to repeat any awful parts of history. Little did we know….
We decided to put Cholla’s on first. I held her and Ang tied the bandanna around her neck, loosely so she could eat a ton (we already promised our ‘backyard-range chickens’ food on demand) and not get a blockage. As I held her, she seemed a little agitated, but not crazy. Once placed on the ground, though, she snapped. She hopped backward in arcing bounces, snapping her neck the opposite way of the bounce – clearly trying to dislodge the bandanna. This was primitive, atavistic behavior, dictated by that little tiny part of the chicken brain that runs survival. No amount of calm, rational discussion or encouraging words from us helped. We had no choice but to remove the bandanna. No longer would our chicks have “chickerchiefs”.
We moved to our back-up phase: “Hanklets”. We thought we might have to place a bandanna around the ankle (in the event of hysterical fowl play). Steve is the most mellow of all five of our chicks, so we chose him to start round two of identifying scraps of clothing. As such, I gently lifted him up and secured his legs so he couldn’t thrash around. (Note to you, the prospective chicken wrangler – hold the legs gently below the buffalo wing part of the leg, and wrap your other hand over the top of the wings and body. This keeps them safe from harm.) Angie then tied the scrap of bandanna to his (yes, she’s a she, but ya just can’t say ‘her’ about a Steve – counseling later, remember?) ankle. We completed this whole operation without further ado and then Ang stapled pieces of bandanna to the frame of the coop with each name right by the color of bandanna “hanklet”.
Although the girls sulked most of the rest of the afternoon, they stayed well away from the hysteria range. My offer of handheld thistle seed (Nyger seed, really. Can’t we just call it what it is? Why does Nigeria care anyway?) went ignored. And when I pleaded with them to “eat, eat, you’re skin and bones” they just sneered at me and turned their backs. Clearly, the ‘trust account’ is empty right now. But that’s ok; it hurt us more than it hurt them. They’ll thank us later. We know what’s best for them.
My bribes to Cassidy worked – and we have PICTURES!!!!!