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.