I was driving around a few days ago and noticed chickens scurrying around behind a house. Chickens have become a popular item on city council agendas over the past year. Seattle passed an ordinance allowing residents to raise chickens and other cities are working on similar ordinances.
A number of cities around the sound are allowing folks to raise chickens in urban zones. It must be another sign of the economic times.
Eggs may be the perfect food. I’ve heard in French cooking schools the first weeks are spent learning how to properly cook eggs. Omelets are tricky. I’ve watched the Julia Child omelet episode a million times and I still don’t quite have all the cool flips down.
My notion of raising chickens is probably different from some; at least different from those folks raised in what my folks used to call “in town”.
I was raised—until about the sixth grade—on a dairy farm at the top of a hill in Enumclaw. One of my early jobs was taking care of our chickens or—as I came to call them—stupid, life-threatening, feathered killers.
When I was young, I felt my brothers had all the cool jobs around the farm: driving the tractor, milking the cows, throwing hay bales around. Since I was a decade younger I was feeling cheated out of the chic jobs that would advance me in life and get me a girl.
The twists in my personality manifested early.
To make me feel better my dad gave me the chicken coop duty, which meant collecting eggs daily.
At first I thought it was a major breakthrough. I intended to become the best chicken caretaker on our
farm, showing up my dopey brothers.
Initially things worked out just as I planned. I was sure my chickens loved me most. What I didn’t know was a demon lurked in the shadows.
I remember coming home from school, grabbing my bucket and heading out to the coop.
I collected the eggs without letting the hens peck me to shreds. I thought I was well ahead of these birds with my quick hands and substantial brainpower.
I was sauntering across the pen daydreaming, as usual, when something knocked me to the ground.
I looked back and there it was: a gigantic rooster, wings spread and frothing at the beak. I couldn’t believe it; I thought my chickens loved me. Et tu, Brute?
In a fit of bravery I jumped up and ran as fast as I could, slamming the gate closed before the killer rooster could have my head. Thank God he didn’t have hands.
This little charade went on for about a week. I would try to collect eggs and the rooster chased me around the pen as if it made for the best days of his crummy life.
It was my grandma who finally figured out egg production had dropped to zero. I had to tell her I was beaten by a rooster.
My grandma had to go out to the chicken pen with me to guard me from the rooster. You can imagine how well this flew with my brothers.
My experience left me with an image I will never forget: looking back after running full speed from a charging red demon, and my grandma repeatedly whacking the rooster with a house broom.
Grandma saved me from my avian tormentor. And the best part was after helping me she gave me a big piece of wild blackberry pie and vanilla ice cream.