Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Life With Chickens Part Three

If you missed part one it is HERE. If you missed part two it is HERE.

In part two, I revealed how the chickens were part of my Dad’s plan for his boys.  Those chickens transported us into a hidden, cult like subculture.  Chicken cults are dangerous.  If there is a Mecca for the Chicken Cult…the State Fair is it.


The Chicken Cult is a club…yes they have Chicken Clubs….not the sandwich. My Dad took me to one of the meetings once, and that is where I met the Grand Pooba of chickens…the wizard of the cluck…the all knowing Chicken Whisperer…his name was Doug.

Doug was old, but then again so was my Dad.  However, Doug was bald old…and fat.  Doug was a tobacco chewer, you could tell by the permanent tobacco stain on his chin. Doug spoke in that typical slow quiet Southern style.  He was not a loud or pushy sort of person, but when he spoke about the chicken...people listened. My Dad had known Doug before we had chickens.  Of course where I lived everyone knew everyone.

My Dad took us over to see Doug.  It is important that I mention a few more things about Doug…he lived at home with his mom and dad….in their basement. Doug sold chicken supplies for a living; he was the go to man for chicken supplies.  Doug also raised exotic chickens…such as the Game Hen.

On our visit Doug showed my Dad how he had put wire on the bottom of the cages and a pull out drawer under each cage.  This allowed the chicken poop to collect on the drawer.  Then Doug put worms in the chicken poop…this generated a whole new income source. Doug was pretty smart for a guy who lived in his mom’s basement.

Doug also warned us to be quiet around the Game Hens…he said that if you make a loud noise that scares them…they could have a heart attack and die.  This was News!!  My brother was playing with a bee and not paying attention…I had to warn him about loud noises…so…you guessed…I yelled “HEY..KEEP QUIET”.

The vision of that poor chicken still twitching its last twitch, and the tear in Doug’s eye haunted me for hours. My Dad was not happy, and I was never allowed to go to Doug’s house again.  Just as well…he had wimpy chickens.

Ever notice how some people look like their dog?  That holds true for some chicken owners.  One guy I remember…just not his name…owned what I consider the most deadly chicken on the planet.  The Black Sumatra.

The Black Sumatra is pretty, it is large, and it is mean. It stands nearly three feet high, has a large meaty body, and long strong legs armed with sharp spurs nearly four inches long. The Black Sumatra is the Arnold Schwarzenegger of the Chicken Kingdom.  I saw first hand the damage the Black Sumatra Rooster can do to a human.  The guy that owned him reached in the cage so he could pack him up…in a quick and loud snap the Rooster popped his spurs in the guy’s arm…it left a three inch gash.

Chicken Spur
The guy that owned the Black Sumatra was a short white guy…he didn’t look anything like his chicken, but he did have some major issues with anger. He once threatened to beat up Doug over some chicken deal gone wrong.

As I said earlier the State Fair was the Mecca for the Chicken Cult.  It was where everyone brought in their best Chicken...cleaned and dried.  My Dad allowed my brother and me to pick the chicken we wanted to enter as our very own. We had to fill out a form that said what type of chicken it was…and what sex it was.  At the Fair we would be given a number for our chicken and place it in a cage.  Then we would wait for the Judges.

The judges would not speak to us…they were armed with a clipboard and a chicken poker.  They would poke each chicken and scribble notes on their clipboard.  One year I had entered a Rhode Island Red Hen.  The judges spent a lot of time looking at her.  In fact, they returned to look at her several times.

There is no money involved in winning at the State Fair…you get a ribbon..or if you are lucky a trophy.  However, some of these guys were commercial chicken breeders…a blue ribbon or trophy bird could increase the price at market.  For me, at first it was a big deal…but it quickly just became another thing. That Rhode Island Red Hen was about to cause me a slight quandary.

There was little fanfare with the awards…the judges would just hang the ribbons on the cage or put the trophy on top.  The judge walked up to that Rhode Island Red Hen and placed a big trophy on top of her cage.  I was proud of her.  For the rest of the day I was one of the Kings of the Chicken Cult…until I actually read the words on the trophy.  My Hen…a girl…had just won…Best Rooster in Show!

This was News!!

I ran up to my Dad and told him what had just happened.  My Dad went over and read the trophy.  This was a problem.  In a normal world we would have just pointed out that someone had made a mistake…the rooster was not a rooster.  However these judges were not normal people…they had egos bigger than Obama. You are not supposed to question their calls, and if you embarrassed them they would hold it against you. For the next two days I had to check her cage and remove the egg she would lay.

The State Fair was the highlight of each year with the Chickens…and as much fun as that was the true learning came from the Chickens themselves.  In the fourth and final part you will be exposed to sex, violence, and love…and some really funny stuff...I will talk about THE CHICKENS.


olredtrk said...

We had chickens on the farm. Some of my fondest memories are of waking up on a warm summer morning and listening to the clucking of the chickens as they warmed themselves in the sun. Some of my least favorite memories also involved chickens. Anyone that has ever shoveled out a coop will attest to the smelliness of chicken tailings.

I've often threatened my family with the prospect of getting some chickens. This may just spur me on.(pun intended)

Capt Black Eagle said...

I am actually contemplating the same thing..given the cost of may not be a bad idea.

Elizabeth said...

Loved the beatiful picures of the chickens. My grandmother used to have Rhode Island Reds.

Capt Black Eagle said...