Saturday, May 18, 2013

Chicken Adolescence

The chickens I had carefully raised from innocent, Easter-greeting-card fluff balls have left their adorable phase. There is nothing attractive about them at this stage. They have feathers, and height, but look like tiny dinosaurs in feather boas. They now boast long, scaly legs, too-large beady eyes, and stalk bugs and get into boxing matches with each other along the hedgerows. There is A few weeks out on grass in the moveable hutches (if they are meat birds) or ranging free around the barnyard (laying hens) has turned them into awkward, miscreant youths. They lack all the happy, matronly, roundness of mature hens as well as their calmness and industry. Instead of sauntering through the fields, cooing between pecks at bugs, these little hooligans are teenagers on the move. They do not walk, but instead they run everywhere. If there’s a chance to make a noise, they make it, and loudly. First-time crowers lift their heads to the sky like wolves and let out moans only a mother could love. They sunbath, but only in short bursts in piles of dry earth where they stretch their fast-growing wings only long enough to catch the shortest acceptable amount of solar love before erupting into a epileptic dust baths. They boldly jump into the pigs’ pen to steal from porcine dinner plates. They jump on the backs of sheep and goats. It is madness and with their new plumage in bright colors combined with their antics it looks like a punk band from the eighties or some anarchists collective took over my otherwise bucolic setting with a mission towards their own idealism. In this case, that idealism is nothing but spent energy and attempts (poor, poor attempts) at sexual congress. The immature males climb on top of the females after displays of bad dancing and horrible crows and make a few stabbing attempts towards the end game but are usually sideways, or too slow, or just embarrassingly inexperienced and the young pullets lose interest and walk away towards the stream or to scratch some design into the gravel driveway.

You know, the more I write about chickens the more it sounds like college...