I Heart Indies

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Another Thing I Have a Hard Time Believing

Last week I discussed the relative merits of goats and chickens with Roger Burr, a colleague at the high school where I teach. Roger’s a goat man, having formed an affection for them in his youth, and figures a pygmy goat would make a welcome addition to his Decatur home. His wife, he says, doesn’t have to be talked into this idea, being, as he puts it, pro-goat. The Burrs, it seems to me, are a remarkably well-matched couple.

I have nothing against goats, per se, but am more on the chicken side of the controversy, owning a well-beloved barred-roc hen named Sorche. I admitted to Roger that my preference is pure bias, and how I’d often heard how intelligent, well-behaved, and companionable goats can be. Chickens by contrast to goats, by contrast to almost any animal you could mention, in fact, being stupid to the nth degree. (To get an idea just how stupid, visit http://www.miketheheadlesschicken.org/index.php to learn about Mike, a chicken who lived over eighteen months without her head.)

Roger Burr, fair-minded as he is, demurred, claiming a friend of his had owned a pet chicken whom he’d taught to go down a slide. At this I expressed disbelief. Roger hastened to add that the chicken did not climb the ladder unassisted – that would be ridiculous – her owner carried her up, but when placed in position at the top, the chicken would go down unassisted.

This, although I did not say so at the time, seemed less an evidence of “training” than the operation of gravity. There is a wide and spacious difference between training a chicken to do something and doing something to a chicken.

This chicken savant of Roger’s friend came to a sad end, I’m sorry to say. According to Roger, the chicken “knew enough” (Roger’s words, not mine) to get out of the way as soon as she reached the bottom, because her owner would come sliding down right after her. Once, however, she forgot this vital safety procedure, and was still standing on the landing pad when her owner completed his descent. Once was all it took.
I’m not sure how much of the above account I believe. I’d like to believe it; the world would be a brighter and more interesting place if it held chickens trained to use playground equipment. If only I could convince myself.

I should mention here, that in addition to my chicken, Sorche, I also possess an in-ground swimming pool. A pool equipped with a long plastic slide. Of course, sending an unsuspecting chicken plummeting into the water would be cruel, but what if there were a float waiting to catch her at the bottom?

As I write this, I find myself going periodically to the window, and looking from Sorche to the slide, Sorche to the slide…

1 comment:

  1. I wonder how many chickens one would have to behead in order to create another "Mike the Headless Chicken"? You could sure win a lot of bar bets...