I was curled up on the bed with the laptop, and the Husbandly One was lying next to me when the Impertinent Daughter came in for advice about her class schedule for next year. Mainly on her four electives. And among the possibilities we threw out at her, one was "Small Animal Management."
"You're always wanting small animals," the Husbandly One said to her scowl. "Hamsters. Guinea pigs. Elephants."
"I think they mean critters like rabbits, goats, and chickens," I said to keep her from throwing something at him. And... that led into a highly inappropriate discussion about chickens.
At this point, y'all need the backstory. See, back about five years or so ago, we became the unintentional owners of chickens, thanks to our landlord and his wife. The first one we got because they were moving and couldn't take the hen that had wandered up to their house as a chick along with them. Fine. And Super Chick was a totally awesome chicken, going everywhere our kids went and cuddling with the outdoor cats when she wanted to take a rest. She went with us when we moved, and started doing things like going down the playscape slide in our backyard with the kids and stealing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from them. And she laid the prettiest blue-green eggs you ever saw, so I'm guessing she was at least part Auracana.
Then we got two more that our former landlord's wife had acquired and realized she couldn't keep when her husband named them "Lunch" and "Dinner" and started eyeing them hungrily when they were old enough to start laying. Yes, I'm a sucker for hard luck stories. I took them, and we named them "Hedda Hopper" because she was always trying to hop onto our heads for some inexplicable reason. If you didn't panic, she'd happily perch on your head while you walked around, before dropping a seriously huge and nasty poop down your back, usually inside your collar. As you can imagine, we didn't let Hedda hoppa on our headas too much!
The other was named "Kung Fu Chicken" because she'd strut toward us making these... sounds that you only really hear from Bruce Lee before he's about to go all choppity on some bad guy, and you'd think, "Oh, gods, this chicken is going to kill me!" And then she'd either rub against you, or hop up in your lap to snuggle... or chase off the snake that you'd been about to step on.
They laid brown eggs. Don't even ask what they were, because Mrs. Landlord had said they were "Silkies" but when I looked them up, they matched none of the characteristics.
Anyhow, we kept them and happily collected eggs from them, which was wonderful, and exciting, because sometimes, the girls didn't want to lay in their nesting boxes. It was like going on an Easter egg hunt every day!! But eventually, and most unexpectedly... they quit laying.
Now, I will freely admit, we went into this blind, mainly because... we hadn't planned on acquiring chickens. Ever. And suddenly, we had them. I had gone into town (we lived out in the country at the time) to hit the library and look for info and that was when I discovered how woefully inadequate the town library was. I found everything on raising rabbits, goats, calves, taking care of cattle, wound care in steers, sheep, guinea fowl, turkeys, god-damned EMUS, fer gossakes... but nothing on chickens!!
Since I had to get feed anyway, I decided to ask at the feed store, because they were always a good source of information about chickens, since they sold them. And I got this energetic old lady who came out, listened sympathetically to my problem and said in a very strong East Texas accent, "Waaaaal, hon, ah think th' problem yer havin' is that yer hens is Egg Bound. So, what you gotta do is, you gotta grease up yer hand and stick it up your chicken's clo-WACKA!"
Yeah, I know it's spelled "cloacha," but... that ain't how she said it, yo.
I'm a city girl, raised by a country boy and a country girl, and we've had chickens and ducks, though that was when I was pretty small. So, I reacted as any girl raised in my circumstances would.
My jaw dropped and I said, 'You want me to put what WHERE??"
"Yew gotta put yer hand up the hen's clo-WACKA!!" and she proceeded to describe the procedure, which most decidedly squicked me something awful, and I decided then and there it was entirely worth the expense of a vet.
Okay, so cut back to tonight, when we're having our highly inappropriate discussion of chickens. I had just said, "I think they mean critters like rabbits, goats, and chickens."
And THO promptly said, "Yew have to put yer hand... up the chicken's clo-WACKA!" and the Impertinent Daughter started laughing.
So, I said, "Yep, you gotta greeeeease that hand up, and just shove it on up in thar, and then you feeeeeel around and if you feel a leetle bump, and then one BIG bump, that's Egg Bound, and you just squeeze it off. But if all you feel is two little ol' nubs, you ain't got a problem! And I said, yes, I do have a problem, I have my hand up a chicken's butt!"
THO snorted then said, "Wow, Mama, you'd be fisting a chicken!!"
I thought the Impertinent One was going to suffocate, she was laughing so hard. "Stop, stop!" she wheezed at us.
"I cud slick 'er up real good with vaseline, or Crisco, if you prefer," I said, and sent both of them off laughing.
Then THO said, "We could get you a bumper sticker. I Fist Chickens."
"Oh, EWWW!!" said the Impertinent One.
"Chicken Fister?" I said, grimacing.
"AW, STOP! Stopstopstop!!" wailed Miss Impertinent, waving her hands and laughing helplessly.
It got highly inappropriate after that, and we were laughing and hooting and wiping tears off our faces. Somehow, I don't think we're ever going to look at chickens the same way again!