Monday, March 4, 2013

If You Give a Chicken a Muffler: A Lesson in Cause and Effect

Here is Ostrich Ventress, the subject of my tale


If you choose to acquire a naked-necked chicken, when it's winter, you will wonder if her neck is cold.

If you wonder if her neck is cold, you will begin to find yourself neurotically checking her neck every day to see if it looks cold.

If you check her neck every day, one day there will appear black markings on the neck and you will decide that the chicken has frostbite and is probably going to die.

If you decide that your chicken has frostbite, you will Google "chickens" and "frostbite."

If you Google "chickens" and "frostbite," you will find pictures of roosters wearing hats, accompanied by comment threads explaining how certain women put hats on their dear little chickens to protect the combs from cold. "Good idea," you will think.

If you find pictures of roosters wearing hats, you will post a request on Facebook that your friends knit your naked-neck chicken a muffler. "Sure," one friend will say.

If you ask for a chicken-muffler on Facebook, you will become impatient and, while you are waiting, you will cut up an old, black sock that belongs that your youngest child. Then you will snatch up the frostbitten chicken and wrestle her to the ground where you will place the sock over her head and scrunch that sucker down.

If you put a black sock onto your chicken, the dominant hen will go berserk. She will think that you have replaced her nice, docile little friend-chicken with a vicious, dangerous, black-necked cobra-chicken and she will chase it madly around the chicken run, trying to peck out its eyes. Feathers will fly everywhere.

If your top hen goes berserk, you will be forced to put a diaper on her and bring her in the house while you are trying to teach math. "Forget about the muffler," you'll tell her. She will walk into the kitchen, where she will helpfully peck out all the crumbs she can find hidden in various cracks.

If your hen is in the kitchen pecking at the tile, you will start thinking that you should take that sock-muffler off the other hen. This is going to get ugly, you will think, and so you will head out to the chicken run and pull that black sock off.

If you pull the black sock off, the next morning you will find that the frostbite is really a hematoma the size of a large grape, swollen and disgusting on your naked chicken's neck.

If you find a hematoma on your innocent chicken, you will panic and return to the internet.

If you return to the internet, you will find that hematomas are self-limiting but must be covered and so—you will go and get another sock. This time you will choose a white sock, in case that makes a difference to the murderous hen.

If you put a white sock-muffler on your chicken, the next morning you will find that she has partially unraveled it and that there is a loose string encircling her tongue, which is magically connected to the moist surface and inextricably joined together with her flesh. The bird and the sock, essentially, are one.

If you find a string wrapped around your chicken's tongue, you will spend the next twenty minutes extracting it, all the while apologizing profusely to your bewildered if docile bird. Finally, and with scissors, the string—and a small part of the tongue—will come loose.

If you free your bird from a tongue trap, you will abandon the idea of mufflers altogether and you will place your bruised and baffled chicken in the yard, where she will thoughtfully eat lettuce and forget everything you've done.

If you return the chicken with the hematoma unprotected to the yard, the next morning you will go out early, very nervous—and look carefully at her neck.




18 comments:

  1. Hilarious! I've been saying I want a place where I can have a few chickens, a couple of goats, and a black & white cow. Maybe I haven't thought this whole thing through.

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    1. Yeah, or maybe just stay away from the naked-necked variety.

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  2. As this got more and more complicated, I started thinking about Wile E. Coyote for some reason.

    Damn. It might be easier to move somewhere with a warmer climate.

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    1. It does somehow seem reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote, as if this would be his situation while keeping hens for eggs. If this had continued, there would almost certainly have been a bomb.

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  3. Aw, Tara, that is so funny! Publish a collection of chicken stories - you could be the Erma Bombeck of chicken lovers (the live kind, not the fried kind)! On the same subject, you would enjoy this article in today's Gazette, the local newspaper: http://www.gazette.com/articles/chicks-151753-calendar-don.html

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    1. That article is hilarious and that woman is my soulmate! I wonder who would read the Erma Bombeck of chickens? I will have to think about that.

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  4. Chicken stories! YES! and get rich! TOO funny!

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    1. Wow! These chickens could finally pay their own way if writing about them was going to earn some cash! Right now, they are laying the world's most expensive eggs.

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  5. Oh my goodness. This is AWESOME!!

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    1. And the sad part is that it's all true.

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  6. I am trying so hard not to laugh and wake my husband who is sleeping beside me! I cannot begin to imagine the patience it would take to unwind a string from a chicken tongue. (Did I know chickens had tongues? I guess. Probably.) So funny. You should totally get some artwork and make a book!

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    1. At various points, I thought I might just cut off the string, leaving a small piece and put her back in the yard, but I kept imagining the medical horror that would develop next. I have a slew of bizarre animal stories in my head from my years spent collecting them. Perhaps I could set myself up as a batty amateur James Herriot?

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  7. Oh my gosh!!!!!! Hahahahahaaa

    When I started this entry, I saw the picture and wondered where in the world you found such a picture. Then I began to read and, I'm so sorry I wondered! So sorry to be entertained by your misery, but your presentation is, as usual, superb!

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    1. I often wish I would just remember to take photos of all the weird things that happen around here—and that I was a better photographer. I'd have blog images forever. :) And it's OK to be entertained. I was completely entertained by the whole thing.

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  8. Poor little Ostrich Ventress does not seem as formidable as her kind-of namesake. Perhaps she needs two lightsabers to wield at the other hens, as well as her muffler.

    On the subject of chicken tongues, I am somewhat sketchy. Although I have probably eaten one in China at some point. You are a patient and loving chicken-Mama and I do so enjoy your chicken stories. You know how I feel about chickens in general. But strange and maligned chickens? This is bliss for me.

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  9. Love all the chicken stories, though they do make me really miss having chickens around--kind of.

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Faith in Ambiguity by Tara Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License