Friday, February 3, 2006

How To Annoy A Chicken...

...or a whole BUNCH of chickens.

Time to dust everyone for mites! Oh, joy.

Since our chickens free-range (fancy talk meaning they walk around the back yard), they hang out with the wild birds, who in their comings and goings, leave behind not-so-pleasant calling cards in the form of parasites, both internal and external. Our chickens are very healthy and having great immune systems, rarely get ill. However we do take the precaution of worming them and dusting them with Sevin (an insecticide powder). Usually we only have to undergo this routine twice a year, but occasionally there is an outbreak of mites that demands an unscheduled round of 'Piss Off Your Pets'. Like yesterday.

Thankfully, yesterday no worming was needed, we had just seen some creepy crawlies on a couple of the hens so we got out the Sevin. Dusting is a procedure that any self respecting chicken RESISTS, and resists with vigor. It neccessitates grabbing the bird in one hand, a handful of Sevin in the other, and massaging the dust deep into the chickens' feathers, all over their body. ALL over their body. Including wingpits and undercarriage. Hens, quite rightly, have a deeply-seated sense of dignity and modesty, and DO NOT take kindly to having J. grope them in such a familiar and thorough manner, and in full view of the rest of the flock. My job was to catch the chickens and hand them over to J. for dusting (the look they shot me reminded me of french aristos going to the guillotine), a process which is much easier in some birds than others. Sweethearts like Babs, Rita, Sugar and Phoenix complied with a minimum of squawking and struggle, but some of the others (Houdini, Juliette and Splash), when they caught on quickly to what was going on, became deliberately slippery and impossible to catch. As the procedure wore on, the dusted birds would stand fearlessly at our feet, in an invincible, "Hah, I'VE already been done!" manner. The as-yet-unmolested chickens hid under any available bush or lawn chair and willed themselves invisible.

Eventually everyone got done, and the coop, roosts and nests as well--for when you dust you have to do the living quarters as well, otherwise it's like taking a shower and putting on grimy clothes. Today not ONE of the chickens will come near me, their noses are severely out of joint. I'll bribe them in a bit with a leftover cheeseburger...food goes along way in chickenland.


  1. From my brother:
    Chickens got noses?

    1. Chickens got beaks, all the better to PECK you with, my dear.

      ...take THAT, bowby human with your pitiful insecticide dust! There, you are bleeding nicely now, you may go...