I’ve never given much thought to chickens before. I once wrote about a man who had a pet chicken. She was a Rhode Island Red. His family had a picture of him as a young boy carrying that feathered creature around under his arm like a bloated football.
Several years ago now, I was working on a fiction story and called a friend who raises chickens. Mr. Wright is a biologist. I figured he’d be familiar with the habits of chickens.
“Would a chicken pluck somebody’s eyes out?” I asked.
“Depends upon the chicken,” he said. “Most wouldn’t, but I suppose if they were hungry enough and if the person were drunk enough or dead enough to lay still for it, some chickens might.”
The character in my story was already dead when the chickens plucked out her eyeballs. Blame it on the Hitchcock stories of my youth. That or my vivid imagination. There’s a fiction writer cowering behind these dry journalistic bones.
Mr. Wright’s wife, Peggy, told me about a time when some critter got into the hen house and ate all the eggs and killed most of their flock. One of the hens survived the attack, though she had been knocked unconscious and they mistook her for dead. From then on out, they called her Gloria because they said she’d had her Resurrection Day.
Bill and Lois Thurman of Crossville, Tenn., tried to give me a chicken once. Their hens looked so fluffy and friendly. I might have accepted their gift if I could have figured out a way to get it home. I know they let you carry cats and dogs on planes but I don’t know what the guidelines are for chickens.
Besides, as I told the Thurmans, the city code didn’t allow for farm animals inside city limits. If I wanted to raise chickens, I’d have to move out of town. It never made any sense to me because the suburb I lived in then was called Pheasant Run. We had plenty of pheasants in the field behind the house.
The difference may have been in the eggs. I was never tempted to loot the pheasant’s nest the way I might have done my own hen.
It’s that looting that’s got me all stirred up.
Ladies, did you know that you could sell your eggs for as much as $15,000 these days?
Egg sales have shot up 30 percent since Wall Street took a pelican dive.
Wouldn’t you know it? Just when the market for them started soaring, I ran fresh out of eggs.
But I have three really lovely daughters who, far as I know, are all very fertile. They could use the money, too. One of them has been unemployed ever since she decided that getting more education would make her more employable. She got a master’s degree from one of those big D.C. schools and hasn’t been able to secure a job in this stinking economy.
Her identical twin sister has a good job, but that year she spent in law school really racked up the debt. If she sold a few eggs, she could pay those school loans off in no time.
The youngest is getting married this summer. For the price of a couple of eggs, she could have the wedding of her dreams. Otherwise, she’s going to have to settle for the pared-down version her school teacher papa can afford.
The only part of my body I’ve ever sold for service is my bum. For a certain price, I’ll plant it in a chair for a designated amount of time. But I’ve done a lot of sitting throughout my lifetime that nobody has paid me one copper penny for, so it’s likely I’d be doing this whether anybody paid me to do it or not.
Don’t get me wrong. I like money. Money likes me. We have a mutual understanding. As long as I don’t abuse it, it treats me fairly well. I have a tin roof over my head and a reliable car to run me up and down the road. I’ve seen lean times when there was nothing in the house to eat but top ramen, but those lean times were a long time ago.
I have a friend who is a millionaire. He remembers when luxury meant splitting a Coke with his little sister once a week. I’m not a millionaire but I can afford all the Coca-Cola I desire. That makes me rich by some people’s standards.
I know this Army Ranger who grew up in the Sudan. He thought when he first came to America he would be given a home and a car along with his citizenship. He didn’t realize he’d have to work for it.
But nowadays folks don’t have to work for all that.
Not if they can hatch a golden egg.
Or snatch up somebody else’s.
But this is just a glimpse of the exploitation that’s going on.
Just take a look at the national neighborhood at the way our nests, and those of our children, are being looted for selfish gain and the sake of a bloody dollar.