Friday, September 19, 2014

Dina the Orpington Houdini

This story doesn't really have a moral except that it's okay to be different.  English Orpington's are known for their in-ability to get off the ground.  According to the experts, a two-foot fence is enough to foil the most intrepid explorer.  Since we anticipate having birds that defy expectations, we built our beautiful enclosure with 4' fencing. For a long time we thought she was digging holes and rolling out under the coop.  I had to stalk her for several mornings to catch the action.  Have to confess that I laughed.  Never did I expect to see such a heavy bodied gal take flight. We can't decide whether we are delighted or dismayed by Dina's diligence in escaping - every single day!

Once upon a time there was a young girl chicken that didn’t care if all the other chickens were clamoring after the morning treat.

 While they were busy looking for the best things to eat, she was busy looking for an escape. 

The first step to any escape is to run about with great speed and no clear direction.  This fools the humans so they don’t know which part of the fence will be conquered.  Here, she is running so fast that her feathers have blown to the sides.  (Not really, I just have no other explanation for this feather pattern).

If she catches sight of you watching her, she’ll go stand against the fence and pretend nothing spectacular is about to happen.  She’s humble that way.

Then when she thinks you are not looking she’ll take a flying leap – to the top of the gate!  After that, the whole world (and my flower beds) is hers for the taking.

The rest of the chickens are all “ooooh, aaaaah….”  And “Did you see that?”  “Can you believe what Dina (feminine diminutive form of Houdini) keeps doing? She did that yesterday too!”

One especially spiteful gal whispered in my ear 
“Doesn’t she know she’s too big to fly?  When is someone going to tell that girl she has a big hind-end and that lead bottoms don’t fly?”

Personally, I think little miss spiteful is jealous.


Usually the boys are too busy eating to care.

Every now and then one of her brothers will get the idea that he can fly too.  He’ll gear up with great speed.  Then with a flying leap he’ll WHACK!!  Hit the fence two feet from the ground.

Everyone laughs.

At night, Dina the fence queen, puts herself back in and goes to sleep with her family.

2014 Orpington Lane, Evening, CA  

Monday, May 5, 2014

As it approached midnight and I sat blow-drying a stinking half-fermented chicken, I started to wonder if this was getting personal.  Did this crazy chicken have it out for me?  I could imagine her devious little brain plotting away.  Then I decided that she wasn’t devious so much as she was silly and unsatisfied. 

Here is her story:

Once upon a time in the land of plenty there was a little chicken who just would not be satisfied.

If you made her a roost up high, she would roost up higher, on the light.

If you were filling the feeder, she would run to the feed bin and gorge while you were busy.  Then when the lid was on the feed bin, she’d run over and gobble from the feeder.  Dissatisfied little chicken was always convinced the other chickens were getting better feed.  It didn’t make her feel happy at all to know that someone else was getting bigger corn or taller wheat grass.

If you made her a nice egg box, she would go lay her eggs in the bushes.

She just couldn’t be satisfied with what the people gave her.

One day the people filled the feeder with fermented feed and carefully snapped the lid back on the container.  Little chicken was watching and scheming.

It took some work but she got the lid off and had complete access to about 40 gallons of feed. 

It was wonderful.

Until she stepped in it and it sucked in her foot.  She beat and fought only to have it suck in her other foot too.

She squawked and hollered but the people were gone. So she decided to eat. She ate and ate, inviting all her friends to eat too.  Eventually she was no longer hungry and her friends had moved on to roost in the coop.  Every time she moved she sank further so she panicked and struggled, throwing feed all over the chicken pen.  All the while sinking up to her neck where she could no longer move.   It was hard to breathe and soon she was coughing from choking and there was a rattle in her lungs.

It was cold.

Until the sun went down and it got even more cold.  This was a most unsatisfactory development!  Being up to your ears in food isn’t as pleasant as it sounds.

Much later a flashlight bobbed along, the man exclaimed and reached in the feed to rescue the poor unsatisfied chicken.  She was too week and cold to walk so she just flopped on the ground until he picked her up and delivered her stinking soggy mass to the person in the house.  

The soft person with the high voice stuck her in the bathtub and said mean things like


“OH you poor STINKING, half-dead chicken!”

“I’m not sure it’s worth saving a chicken that stinks this bad.”

And so on… it was most unkind of her.

Then the person was so rude as to remove her from under the warm water and begin running hot air.  The hot air ended up being rather nice as it moved under her feathers and warmed her body.  For an hour the busy human muttered and ran that hot air machine.  Little chicken moved once but was so full that her swollen crop made it difficult.  So she just kept her eyes shut and held still.  Finally, the unsatisfied chicken was wrapped up and the high voiced person laughed and called her a chicken burrito.  Really, most rude!

Eventually she was placed in her own little cage,all wrapped up (she still couldn’t stand or perch) and covered with the towel warmed by a hot pad.  Steam floated through the cage and it carried something that helped her breathe. 

It was peaceful and safe.  The dissatisfied little chicken slept.

The next morning she was breathing fine and most surely NOT satisfied with her cage and left a soggy thin-shelled egg to prove it.

It felt so good to run around with the other chickens and roll in the sun-warmed dirt.  Little chicken thought she might be satisfied for a while.  After all, the feeders were full and she still wasn’t hungry.