Thursday, May 5, 2011

Do chickens deserve diapers? and other deep thoughts

I've had feathered friends on the brain lately. Last week, the raven; this week, the chicken. (Perhaps a peacock post next week to round out the series?)

Three things have occurred to me about chickens, specifically:
  1. Their bum rap, or how I had pegged them wrong all these years;
  2. Chicken nuggets—of wisdom and serene philanthropy, that is;
  3. Chicken couture, encompassing accessories and—praise be rapscallion ingenuity!—chicken diapers. A bum wrap of a different sort.
I am gratified you know me well enough to know I have not been thinking of chickens as an app most common to humankind: drumsticks. I've said it before, I'll say it again. I do not blog about food.
    Back when my dwelling was in a 7,000-island republic in the Far East, animal rights was an alien concept. If humans lived in cardboard boxes along the freeway and galvanized tin ramshackle huts by a stagnant river, how could anyone expect animal shelters? Dogs were underfed gadabouts, expertly dodging traffic. Cockfights were an afternoon pastime. (I speak in the past tense, although these conditions still exist.)

    My childhood impression of chickens, consequently, is heavily shaded by scenes of violence and survival strategy. My childhood friend John B sent me this picture of a rooster bred to fight to the death. (It was not Born to be Alive.) It illustrates a series of verses—let's not insult poets by calling it poetry—scribbled on a vexing afternoon when I was 16.

    Chicken's Lament 
    by Scrollwork

    Something set me off, careening
    And I didn't know when to stop
    Screeching, scratching and insisting
    My opinion was on top.
    Oh! good grief, Mother Hen
    It's my neck upon the block
    For I've done it once again—
    dared defy the dreaded flock.
    I'll be cubed into a bouillon
    Chopped and locked into a freezer
    Challenging the crowd's opinion
    Only made me lose my temper.

    Poultry squabbles make me weary
    Wish I had my eggshell back
    Now my feeling's kinda eerie
    Am I sure I'm not a duck?

    (John B also sent this picture.)

    I lived a somewhat tormented life between 16 and 46. Being opinionated and outspoken earns big honking demerits when you're a) young  b) the youngest, and c) a woman in male-dominated domestic and corporate cockpits.

    At 47 I crossed the road (with a swift kick to my booty), began building my own roost, and finally made peace with my quirkiness. I went from "Am I sure I'm not a duck?" to "I am my own chicken. Peck on that."

    Not surprisingly, my view of chickens is now comfy-cozy-warm-and-fuzzy. I apologize to the chicken collective for my earlier wrongheaded stereotyping (which all stereotyping is). Mine is now a mindset that leans toward goodwill toward global cohabitants.

    In perfect serendipity, artist Kristin Love's Namaste Yoga Birdie Dish positioned itself in my line of sight.
    "This "Namaste" dish is one of the pieces I have established for Charity Donations in conjunction with The Etsy Mud Team. We are working together to raise support and donations for our fellow potters in Japan, specifically in the historic pottery village of Mashiko, which was hard hit by the recent earthquake..."
    In addition to my expanded vision, I have developed a capacity for appreciating details beneath the surface made apparent only from the scratch and peck that chickens engage in. And sometimes I find solutions right under my nose.

    I'd been frustrated in my search for the right-sized S-hooks to rig a thread spool holder from an expandable garden trellis. I'd bought and returned S-hooks that were too thick for spools to perch on. A few minutes ago, I clicked on a post titled Chicken Socks on Scratch and Peck, illustrator Lauren Scheuer's blog. The title caught my eye because I was researching chicken couture, the third bullet for this post.

    Lauren wrote about fashioning S-hooks from the tops of wire hangers to hang up treats for her girls. How many times had I stood in my laundry room and looked right through those wire hangers? My spools are gonna love their new roost.

    BTW, I love how in chicken sub-culture they call them "the girls." They also have creative individual names. Blogger Josh Elliot of The Occasional Chicken calls his girls Noodle Soup, Salad Sandwich, and Pot Pie. What would you call yours if you had one?

    One can never take oneself too seriously around chickens. A misstep? The key is to recover gracefully. An excellent example of mishap makeover is this  Sunny Side (or Which Came First) brooch from etsy seller An Embellished Life. She made it from a damaged vintage egg cover. I am charmed beyond measure. People from the Vintage Ages liked to have covers for everything, and they were quaint as well as elegant. A far cry from the broomstick handle and toilet paper roll covers of my childhood.

    On the subject of mishaps, I must quit pussyfooting around the chicken diaper issue. It is of course only an issue if you keep indoor chickens.

    The best exposition on the concept is the following excerpt from "We Aint' Chicken with our Chicken Any More" on The Chicken Whisperer:
    A nappie that a chicken wears when outside of its coop.
    A proper little catch-all to collect the chicken's poop
    We got this rooster that we've raised from an egg.
    It's hard fer us to shut him out when that rooster starts to beg.

    He likes to be inside with us, but we've found it' ain't no joke
    We ain't got him trained yet.  He ain't reliably housebroke.
    So we bought this chicken diaper with instructions how to use
    The little garment on our bird to cover its caboose. 

    I really just wanted an excuse to post my verses, Chicken's Lament. But look what lovely finds emerged! From the sublime to the absurd, as they say. In bloggy world, they also say that content curation is the new black. How I resisted! My blog looks good in black.

    Now I'm hoping my favorite author, Samantha Sotto, pops in and posts in the comment section that soon-to-be-famous chicken-related quote from the hero in her upcoming novel, Before Ever After.

    Happy clucks to you.


    1. "His passion for eggs almost rivaled his devotion to chickens, though generally he preferred the latter off a plate than on it. Max staunchly believed you could get through anything if you had a chicken, and the clucking kind, in his expert opinion, had far more uses than the ones nesting on warm mashed potatoes and gravy." Before Ever After, p.3

      You're in good company, Scrollwork ;-)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Loved the post. Egg-celent, I must say. "Chicken's Lament" was truly nothing short of verbal Poultry in Motion. I'll never think of chicken the same way. My next trip to KFC will now have deeper (fried) levels of meaning.

    4. Scrollwork! Thanks for your link to Chicken Socks -- Funny how we get found... Love all your words. I'm a new fan.

    5. X, way to punt the puns! Although you and I must talk at our next eyeball about why I boycott KFC. Seriously, dude.

      Hi, Lauren! Welcome to the community. I''m following scratchandpeck, too. You've already expanded my vocabulary. I now know the chicken chant: "Budup." I had to look up whether cats and chickens get along, as my giant rescue cat rules the household. Alas, I can haz no chickens. : (

    6. Once you've cracked the eggshell, there's no turning back. (Think tube of toothpaste.) But there's no avoiding that. (When eggs pass eggspiry dates, they start to stink.) So, glad you took that first crack, discovered you can't quack, and thus moved on to better things.

    7. LOL. "discovered you can't quack" — never thought of it like that, true dat.

    8. ♥.•*´♥.•BIG LOVE for this Post on the Venerable Chicken!!!♥.•*´♥.•
      Thank You so much for inviting the little Namaste "peep" to this FUNtastically Insight-full Celebration of those lovable Barnyard Birdies, it's an Honor! Your Poem is right on, love the word play, and as a writer of poetry on occasion, I think it's Poultry Perfection, and reads like Fluid Fowl! I would personally love to have a hen or 3 hanging in my backyard but overcoming the obstacles of my Husband, my rescued German Shepherd and land use in Seattle city proper has me stopping short of that Chicky goal at the moment. But, if I had them, they would probably be called Flo, Gerty and Bertha, only because, well, I could, and I love the Olde Timey sound of those names!
      Thanks again Scrollwork, I love your Blog and I'll be back regularly to read what you're up to!
      :) Kristin

    9. Well that was just lip-smackin' good and filling for my ol' heart! And no wonder your comments are soulful—you're a poetic potter!

      Let's have imaginary hens, then. Mine will be called Betty White.

      Come out and play often!

    10. Thanks for your post. In France too, chicken's rights are an alien concept. Must be quite a change for u. I think your idea has a lot of potential!

    11. Hiya, Muriel! Truth be known, before I ever begin work on chickens' rights, I'll ask for parity for artists first. Oh for Shakespeare's age when artists had benefactors and didn't have to choose between starving or selling one's body. But wait! we do have benefactors. They're called husbands ; )

    12. We're so glad you continue to "defy the dreaded flock," Scrollwork! Your sense of humor and writing are egg-straordinary! Loved the comic, too. :)

    13. Thanks so much, Kenya. All the defying in the world would be futile and irrelevant without the support of people like you.

    14. Fantastic photos and hillarious cartoon! :)

      Great to meet you through the Etsy Blog Team! :)
      I am a new follower/subscriber to your blog.

      Mary C. Nasser

    15. Welcome, Mary! You have some thought-provoking posts about accumulation (of inspiration) and failure (along with fear of success) that I enjoyed reading on your blog. Glad we're on the etsy blog team together. I'm your new follower, too.

    16. This post is so deliciously weird - and I love me some quirky relief, especially when I get to see an actual chicken waiting to cross the road. Will he make it, or will a big rig mow him down before he hits the other side? I also dig the cartoon and wish I could put the advice to better use. I always say what I'm thinking when I'm at work... but I work at home, so I'm not having much luck getting fired, though God knows I keep trying.

    17. Hiya Cara! "Deliciously weird" is a high compliment coming from the author of "They Only Eat Their Husbands." I enjoyed watching the clip on your website ( explaining your memoir's title.

      Let me know if you need me to send you a Trump clone to tell you "You're fired."