On a roadtrip with chickens

My contribution to this Fiesta Friday: two Araucana hens.

Don’t get too excited – these are still very much alive and are not eligible for a star appearance on anyone’s dinner table.  I’ll probably be booted from the party for not bringing actual food.  But I’ve had a rough week, and I’m just here to eat so…

You’re probably wondering why I have chickens in strange buckets in my backseat.

I hadn’t planned on going through the whole explanation about the buckets, but since the theme of this post revolves around the chickens in my backseat, I suppose I have to now.

They are research chickens from work.  The buckets were designed with specifications for deployment in the field (fancy disease surveillance jargon).  As it turns out, they also make for the best chicken transport if you don’t have a dog/cat crate.

To be clear, we don’t conduct experiments on them: they are what is known as sentinel chickens.  They help us monitor Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a disease that is deadly to horses and potentially life-threatening in humans but does not cause illness in chickens.

We keep the birds for one year, starting as day-old chicks, under very controlled, humane conditions.  In fact, a PETA rep paid us a visit and (thankfully) left pacified.  At the end of their service, the hens are healthy and fat, and we give them away to nice homes where they are kept as pets.  Let me emphasize that – pets. Not dinner.

When I was growing up, we kept loads of chickens and ducks in the Shire.  Then times got hard; we have a large family to feed and, well, you can guess what happened to the fowl…

Mom has been fostering retired chickens since last year, and she really enjoys their company.  She will only keep a manageable number.  I gave them names, and she sort of remembers each one.

(Celeste morphed into “Shellass;” Henrietta is now “Harrianna”; Casanova turned into “Cash”; Phoenix is “Finnick”; and Thelma somehow got Lao-ified into “Ee Thaew.”  Snow lucked out because she can say “Snow” just fine.  Penny Lane and Cinderella will join the gang this weekend – I wonder what she will rename them.)

Driving 220 miles through Walking Dead country with chickens in your backseat is no joke.  I had to crack the back windows to create some crosswind action so I wouldn’t get gassed out by the smell of chicken excrement.  As payback, they were probably deafened by my screeching singing along to an eclectic Roadtrip! playlist, which includes hits such as:

“Bernadette” – The Four Tops
“Billy Jean” – MJ
“Island in the Sun” – Weezer
“True Blue” – Madonna
“More Human Than Human” – White Zombie
“Poker Face” – Lady Gaga
“Shadows of the Night” – Pat Benetar
“Three Little Birds” – Bob Marley

(I think they prefer the Beach Boys.)

You may think transporting chickens is an odd way to celebrate Fiesta Friday.  But at the end of the road, a huge, warm bowl of seafood pho – made with love – was waiting for me.


12 thoughts on “On a roadtrip with chickens”

  1. Your mom definitely knows how to name chickens better! I’ve been hearing about pet fowls lately. And last week I went to Sam’s Club and they were selling “Chicken Chalet”. I might get one and start raising chickens. Not for dinner, but they’d better give something in return, like eggs. Btw, I had a pet rooster. But he wasn’t very pleasant. Even the dog was scared of him. You don’t want to know what happened to him.

    1. You’ve probably guessed that Casanova is a rooster – and he is MEAN. My mom built a trap door that she uses to keep him out of the hen house when she’s in there collecting eggs or cleaning. The eggs are her favorite part about keeping chickens. It’s all part of zombie apocalypse sustainability.

  2. Lovely and fun post! We grew up with chickens for their eggs. We didn’t name them (my parents were not at all sentimental about them), but your mom’s names for them rocks. It’s like how my mom pronounces her grandchildren’s names, LOL, with a heavy Vietnamese twist. The pho look good too!

    1. Oh, don’t get me started on what my mom calls my American-born cousins. It’s terrible. I keep asking their parents, Why did you name them something our elderly folk can’t pronounce? haha

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