Once in awhile, I decide to have a chuckle or two. More times than not I find them in The Everson Farm Manual that came from the farm. My lesson for today: One hundred heavy laying hens will drink 10 tons of water in a year. A laying pullet has been observed dipping her beak in a pan of water 57 consecutive times after breakfast. Question: Who in the world wants to watch a chicken for 57 beak dippings, and, in truth, who cares!
I am sure there must be some reasoning for this bit of wasted time, but for the life of me, I cannot come up with it. I found that there are 18 pages dedicated to poultry while beef got only 10 and swine five. Horses came in last with only a page and a half of information. Now from this information, it can only be assumed that chickens are fascinating or possibly carry numerous illnesses. I found no hint of anyone counting how many times a cow chewed her cud or that a pig snorted. For some reason the chickens have the corner on this literary market.
I did discover that if a chicken droops its head to one side and turns over on its back kicking for a minute or two, the same will be repeated in a few days at which time the chicken will die. It is most aptly named Crazy Chicken Disease. Again, who in the world sat watching the chickens?
When baby chicks are hatched it is suggested: In the first 24 hours, give them grit and water. Hard boil eggs, one for morning and one for evening mixed with two pieces of hard toast, scraped fine and mixed with eggs should be fed to chicks in AM and PM. This sounds vaguely familiar as to what was on our table for breakfast in the house. Hm.
Amazing that the old hen house sat across the yard all of my years on the farm without me giving it much notice or, for that matter, the chickens paid little attention to me as well. I gathered eggs. Played with baby chicks. Watched Mom whack off their heads, then fry them up for Sunday dinner. I never saw Dad give them any special attention. In fact, I always believed as did Dad that the silly things were very dumb. We chased them many times when they managed to escape out the gate. They pecked when I gathered eggs. They were the most skittish creatures on the farm. Yet they provided food and money for those of us who lived in the house across the way.
I find the only thing sillier than counting the number of times a chicken dipped her beak in a pan of water is a person who take time to write about it and then sends it off to you. Must be a slow day for news.
Pamela Loxley Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.