Dishing on Chicken.

While my physical therapist was pummeling me the other day, she said “So I met someone else who has chickens.”

She said this in precisely the same tone of voice you would use if you were saying “As hard as this is to believe, I think I just met another person as crazy as you.”

She went on to describe the conversation with the gentleman, a physician, who could not stop talking about his chickens. Sound familiar? “He kept telling me about how they follow him around,” she said.

I miss my chickens. There is something about the daily interaction with a flock of hens that settles satisfyingly deep within you in much the same way as it does to sit in front of a fire. There’s a primal feel to it. The sound when they ruffle their feathers; the way they greet you with soothing low peeps that have nothing to do with food or fear or anything but saying hello to you because they recognize you as their keeper.

Right now they are greeting different keepers, while Tammy, Tom and family wrangle the CA critters in our absence:

Two cuties: Claire and Luna get cozy.

Two cuties: Claire and Luna get cozy.

My physical therapist remains unpersuaded about chickens and a bit wary of those who keep them. But there is no denying that chickens are having a moment. Polloplayer correspondent Tina has been updating me on the latest in poultry epiphanies coming, by the way, not from Backyard Farming or Homesteading Weekly, but from the decidedly urban New York Times.

Tina recently forwarded me a piece by eminent Times reporter Nicholas Kristof entitled Are Chicks Brighter than Babies?
The title of his piece refers to some research he includes regarding the ability of chickens to count, differentiate and multitask. I already knew that. Hey, my hens can do all that with their, um, wings tied behind their backs.

Okay, so my hens don't play piano. But they could if they wanted to! (image from animal

Okay, so my hens don’t play piano. But they could if they wanted to! (image from animal

What really struck me, though, about Kristof’s piece, was his recollection of growing up on a farm in Oregon where he observed the stolid fidelity of mated geese.

Did you know that geese mate for life? (image from

Did you know that geese mate for life? (image from

Like swans, a mated pair of geese stay together through thick and thin, including, as Kristoff relates, courageous attempts to rescue a mate from the chopping block. It is touching, and it is thought-provoking. Like me, Kristof eats meat, but he is troubled by the conditions under which commercial poultry are kept. I know, I’ve harped on this before, but there may be new reasons for concern – on a different continent.

Last August, the USDA announced that four Chinese facilities would be allowed to process poultry raised and slaughtered in the United States, Chile or Canada, and then export the cooked poultry products back into the United States. You may want to read that statement over a few times, because at the very least, it involves a dizzying number of frequent-flier miles for the poultry involved and it most certainly does not give one the impression that what ends up on your plate is “farm fresh”.

(image from

(image from

This might be a good moment to mention that the avian flu epidemics that scare the wits out of contagion-wary folks tend to originate in Asia and are directly linked to the conditions under which fowl are maintained there. Or to bring up the fact that the deaths of 500 pet dogs in the U.S. this year have been linked to jerky treats made of chicken and imported from China. You don’t have to look far to find news reports that China is considered to be a country “notorious” for avian influenza and food-borne illnesses.”

Baby chicks being boiled alive following a bird flu scare in China last May. (image from

Baby chicks being boiled alive following a bird flu scare in China last May. (image from

The August announcement raised a ripple of concern because it was seen as a “preliminary step toward eventually allowing China to export its own raw poultry into this country” and sure enough, on November 10 it was reported that U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced his concern over “USDA plans to green-light poultry raised and slaughtered in China.”


Questions come to mind. Do we not have enough chicken here in the U.S. to satisfy our need for nuggets? Daily Finance reports that the move to allow Chinese poultry exports is tied to a scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours deal whereby “China may agree to open its markets to U.S. beef.” So let me get this straight. The Chinese will get to enjoy juicy U.S. steaks while, in exchange, we get chicken from the country where there was a recent bust for an attempt to smuggle 46-year-old “expired” chicken feet. No, I am not creative enough to make this up; it was in The Huffington Post.

Chicken feet in a Shanghai market (image from

Chicken feet in a Shanghai market (image from

All I can say is that this is not what I generally have in mind when I order Asian Chicken Salad. You know the drill: write your Congressperson and contact the USDA.

On a happier chicken note, our family friend Hannah Allen is currently the featured artist at Emerson Hospital in Sudbury, MA. Among her paintings on display is this beauty. I love it!

painting by Hannah Allen

painting by Hannah Allen

About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
This entry was posted in All Things Poultry, Animal/Vegetable/Mineral, Chicken Facts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Dishing on Chicken.

  1. Katherine says:

    So glad you ended with that lovely rooster painting. What a tragedy that these wonderful and sensitive creatures can’t all be raised in Hope Ranch.

  2. tbnranch says:

    Great post, thanks for sharing. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s