Sunday, September 21, 2014

September is a fowl month

Sometimes special occurrences have a way of sneaking up without us being cognizant of their arrival, especially those that are for the birds. This is not meant as a derogatory remark since September being National Chicken Month is once more upon us. Couldn't find a scratch of background information in spite of pecking around as to the reason for devoting an entire month to chickens. Perhaps chicken farmers and people in the agricultural community felt that chickens needed a higher profile. Go know.

For people reading this wondering, "what type of background data have you gleaned about chickens , Eleanor?" - your wait is over. According to the, here are a few highlights:

the chicken, Gallus gallus domesticus, is a domestic subspecies of the red jungle fowl, a member of the pheasant family that is native to Asia.
- the  bird was probably first domesticated for the purpose of cockfights, not as food.
- chickens aren’t completely flightless—they can get airborne enough to make it over a fence or into a tree.
Now the latter fact comes as a surprise, at least to me. I've always been under the impression that chickens and their ilk were earthbound, fated to scratch and peck the earth. Can't speak for others but I've never actually seen a chicken in flight or stuck up in a tree. Mind you, I've seen photos of roosters sitting on a fence or on top of chicken coops waiting for the sun to put in an appearance on the horizon, in preparation to declare that the day has officially started. Flying chickens, though, are one would imagine, somewhat of a rare sighting in most circles.
- these birds are omnivores. They’ll eat seeds and insects but also larger prey like small mice and lizards.
Yet another I-didn't-know-that fact. Remember this the next time you sit down to a chicken dinner

-  with 25 billion chickens in the world, there are more of them than any other bird species.
-  female chickens are pullets until they’re old enough to lay eggs and become hens. Male chickens are called roosters, cocks or cockerels, depending on the country one lives in.
Another interesting puzzler in the chicken world. Chickens start out being pullets until they're a year old after which they lay eggs and are suddenly known as chickens. Why? I mean, wouldn't it be easier for everyone concerned for them to be known as pullets all their lives? Is there something wrong with being a pullet? To confuse the issue (for me at least) a hen is also known as a female chicken. But I digress.

- in the romance area, a rooster announces that he's found food by emitting a "took-took-took" sound but hens ignore them if they're aware that food is available. Why would a hen want to wait and get it second-hand if it's available free, right? Food first, obviously, before romance. In order to get their attention and in an attempt to impress the hens, roosters perform a dance called, 'tid-bitt-ing' where they make sounds moving their heads up-and-down, picking up and dropping food.

 - researchers have discovered that the female of the species prefer roosters that frequently 'tid-bit' along with larger, brighter combs on their heads. One could deduce from this information that hens are somewhat shallow and will opt for looks rather than personality. But again I digress.

Amazing how chickens have had an influence on our lives and are mentioned in many everyday expressions. Came across  a listing of fowl terms on the site:

- flew the coop - gone
- up with the chickens - waking early with the sunrise.
- going to bed with the chickens
- like a chicken with it's head cut off (there have been instances where a/chickens have been reputed to live without a head like Mike the Headless Chicken, who was reputed to have survived 18 mos. minus a head
- shake a tail feather - get moving
 - being chicken - being afraid 
-  sunny side up - cheerful attitude
-  chicken out - not follow through
-  ruffle one's feathers - something annoys you
-  chicken hearted - not brave
-  chickens have come home to roost - the past is catching up (this infers that chickens leave home for a while and if so, one wonders where they go and what they do while gone. Anybody?)
-  rule the roost - to be the boss
-  pecking order - finding your place
-  cock of the walk - to be the boss
-  do chickens have lips? - dumb questions gets dumb answer (love this expression)
-  play chicken - a stand off
-  something to crow about - exciting news to tell
-  chicken scratch - poor handwriting (frequently attributed to those in the medical profession)

All of this is leading up to that age old question or issue that has stumped human-kind for time immemorial: just why did the chicken cross the road?

Thinking further (too much time on my hands, obviously), there is really no reason for any chicken not to cross the road if said chicken wanted to.  The big question is what would induce a chicken to cross the road in the first place
Maybe a chicken would want to cross a road simply because the road is there to cross - or not
Perhaps chickens - some but not necessarily all - can't recognize the existence of a road that's set out in front of them
There could be a possibility that to a chicken, a road is a means of seeking an escape from the tedium and ennui of  being relegated to living out its life in a coop (hence the expression: cooped up)
Then again, perhaps the chicken had already crossed the road, had a taste of what was on the other side and wanted to return to see if what she experienced was real
In conclusion, maybe the chicken crossed the road because she had an urge to cross it, which overcame her better judgement, and she was wiser having arrived at the other side knowing that her life would be the same no matter which side of the road she was on.
Oh the angst of chicken indecision!

Since it's impossible to communicate with chickens in a language that would be compatible to both humans and fowl, it's all pure speculation at best. Merely a peck in the dark.


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