Thinking About Chickens

For some reason I was just thinking about chickens. Chickens are not usually at the top of my list of concerns but the fact that I recently thought about them says something about my confused life here lately. But even in less weird times, I think chickens are interesting.

The chicken has historically caused humans to consider the basic philosophy of life. A frequently asked question by those who seek to find the real meaning of life is, “Which came first the chicken or the egg?” This has become such a trite question that we sometimes don’t take all the implications of the inquiry seriously.

Once we approach the question, some considerations come to mind. Does fried chicken taste the same to everybody? How would we ever make that determination? Given the difference in every element of our human makeup, we have to assume that our taste buds have their own personality. But since the taste of chicken seems to be universal ( and attributed to any otherwise un-identifiable taste), we have to assume that there is some similarity in the way our taste buds communicate to our brain the actual, real, essential, and elemental taste of fried chicken. To tell you the truth, I don’t really think about it that much when I’m eating fried chicken.

I have always had occasion to note the newsworthiness of chickens. Many years ago I read about some chicken growers—in Georgia, I believe—who had been disgruntled at the low price they were getting for their chickens. As protest, they planned to parachute a large number of live chickens onto the headquarters of the company that was proposing such low prices: a symbolic “flooding of the market” by air. The article noted that, fortunately, the plan was abandoned as being inhumane.

I was reading an account of the development and continuing importance of community journalism in this country. An illustration of the type of articles that were featured in local papers in the early part of the twentieth century included an article and photograph of a woman displaying an egg and a sweet potato—both the egg and the potato extremely elongated. The caption read, “Last week Mrs. —– visited the newspaper office with an extra large hen egg, which later proved to have a double yolk and an unusually long sweet potato”. Not only was the newspaper dutifully covering local phenomena but the sentence structure added to the uniqueness of the egg.

As much as I like chickens and admire their individuality, I would find it hard to get personally attached to a chicken. I would particularly find it hard to give a chicken a name. However, a long-time friend of mine (I didn’t say an “old friend” for fear of chastisement.), Suzi Wallace Fire in Denton, NC, does occasionally name a chicken so that they (the chicken) will respond when called. I understand that someone else in the area named their rooster “Festus” because one leg was stiff. The rooster’s leg, that is. “Here, chick-chick,” is about as good as I can do.

As I write all this about chickens, I am reminded of a statement my son made several years ago about some of my newspaper columns: “Dad, you got way too much time on your hands”.

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