|Floyd, Floyd, and Floyd|
(This image is ©Nancy Banks,
and can't be used without her written consent.)
I've been reading much these days about how hip and green and all things good and right it is to have backyard chickens. Well, as the song says, I was poultry when poultry wasn't cool. Back in the day, K and I kept chickens, not because they were hip and green and good and right, but because they were tasty.
And truly, chickens = hipness and goodness is an equation that I don’t have the subtlety to understand. Because I always think of hipness and goodness as pretty much the opposite of stench, poop, and cannibalism—all of which I associate very strongly with chickens.
Don’t misunderstand me; I loved our birds, but as K says, they’re just lizards with feathers. He also claims that you’re doing them a favor when you butcher them. I've seen bored hens facing a long winter commit atrocities upon their fellows that I won't describe, just in case tender-hearted souls are reading this, so I have never had qualms about the butchering part. Plus, yard-raised chickens? Yum!
I say all this, and I sound quite tough and old-country and next thing you know I'll be castrating calves with my teeth, but I harbor a guilty secret—Floyd, the naked chicken who lived in our basement one winter while I nursed her back to health.
It gets worse.
I wrote an epic poem about her. In four parts. With illustrations.
And because I have no shame (at least, not so's you'd notice), I’m going to share it right here live and in person. Ahem.
The Floydyssey (an epic poem in four parts)
Floyd was just an ordinary Cornish/Rock cross hen.
(And she was not as
cross as some of our hens,
although you couldn't call her affectionate, either.)
She had survived the chopping block by luck--
butchering, as you know, is a tiring process.
We had done ours over several weekends,
and finally it got too cold,
and K was tired of killing chickens,
and so several of the hens
received a reprieve.
I named them all Floyd.
This was the winter that we were in a Friday night
Since we both worked in town,
we went straight from work to bowling,
which meant that we didn't close up the chicken coop
till we got home.
One Friday night in February, when
I went up the hill to close the coop,
I found the
the landscape--ambulatory, fortunately.
The coyote that got into the coop was too slow
to catch any,
although he did wound one--Floyd.
She had a puncture wound
about the size of a nickel
on her thigh.
I put everybody back in the coop
and closed it up tight
and went to bed
worrying about Floyd.
Our egg birds, the Barred Rocks, were
easily bored during the winter.
They beguiled the long cold days
their sister Floyds.
I'd already had one cannibalized Floyd,
and I knew Floyd's wound was an invitation
for bad behavior.
I wondered here to put her until her wound healed.
I couldn't put her in with the geese, because
they liked to chase the chickens,
and, with her bum leg, Floyd couldn't run away from them.
We were having a very cold spell,
so I couldn't put Floyd in the dog run
and let her
roost in the doghouse--
the dogs needed to get in their house to keep warm,
and I knew they wouldn't if there was a chicken living there.
Surprize, our Giant Schnauzer, was scared to death of chickens,
and Loki, our Standard Schnauzer, I think disapproved of their personal habits.
We had a new dog, Shorty
(a stray perhaps Bichon Frise that, with more compassion than good sense,
I'd picked up on the highway),
whose views on chickens had not yet been aired,
but who was irascible about
except Milk Bones.