Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Let there be chickens

The Biblical version: “The Lord God looked over his domain and saw that it was good in the rain country of Haiku. He spake, ‘Thou livest in Haiku but where are thy chickens? It is not enough to listeneth to the early morning wild roosters that soundeth thee out of bed.  And it is not enough to be thy brother’s chicken keeper. Thou needeth thine own chickens to be fruitful and multiply and to receiveth eggs, and to turn the other cheek when they pecketh at thou.’ ”

Maui is full of wild chickens and loud roosters. 

The Buddhist version: “And the Buddha sat under the bodhi tree and realized
that all life involves suffering. And he saw the chickens digging holes in the nearby pasture and smiled. By watching the chickens peck, and not being attached to the fate of the chickens and not being attached to whether those chickens ever lay eggs, one can become released from suffering and false attachment, and perhaps experience nirvana.” 

The Jewish version: “Ah, the rest of the world is trying to kill us, oy vey!, but we survived and so let’s celebrate and eat… eggs and bitter herbs and unleavened bread. And let’s get some chickens so we can have eggs. L’chaim!”

The Muslim version: “If the Jews can have chickens, we can have better chickens. Ours will be righteous and holy and pure as they were in the days of the prophet Mohammed. Praise to Allah!”

The Catholic version: “Let’s get some chickens and feel guilty about them.”

The truth: Our neighbors had a colony of chickens. They decided they needed to take back the space enclosing the hens, and asked my husband if we wanted three birds. Without missing a beat, he said yes. I could have put my foot down before they showed up the next day, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. (Evil snicker.)


The road to hell is paved with chicken poop. It has been one chicken-filled day after the other. My time, no our time, has been sucked into the black hole of newbie chicken keeping. We weren’t prepared for the undertaking, although it has been interesting in the Chinese sense of the word, like in the phrase, “May you live in interesting times.” (Evil snicker #2.)

We have three hens: 2 Rhode Island Reds and 1 American Beauty. Our neighbor graciously helped move them over to our property, which is on the other side of his fence. It wasn’t a gracious move for the chickens but they survived.

The chickens arrived in these feed bags,
one per chicken
DH reports that our neighbor grabbed each chicken by the foot, threw the bird into a big chicken feed sack, wired the end closed, and poked holes in the bag with an ice pick with the hen squawking inside. !!! Probably better that I wasn’t there. Then the two men brought down the chicken cage which was too tall for the area DH wanted to put it in, so he had to cut down the legs, and then had to do it once again to fit it better.

Maybe some readers will have judgment towards our neighbor moving chickens in such an unceremonious way, but that’s how chickens are grabbed by workers in the big chicken factories on the mainland, so they can be taken to the processing plant. Industrial chicken farming is not pretty and I like to think that these chickens are getting a chance at a better life. And it was very nice of him to give us chickens, so I have to think of something to give him back, but what do you give a feisty Portagee man who knows how to make his own Portuguese sausage, has a big garden, makes things himself, has horses, land, and plenty dakine (pidgin for "whatever," or used as a filler word for added emphasis) stuff, and has a wife who is a baker, seamstress, and good cook? 

What we have are the outsider chickens, the ones who didn’t get along with the rest of the flock. But they are alive, unlike the other 10 chickens who are getting freezer burned, or have already been eaten by our neighbor. I’m not thrilled about housing them in a cage, but it’s what they are used to and what we have for now. And so begins the chicken chronicles. 

(Updated 86/13 - Finally got around to writing another post about learning from the chickens.)


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