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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Chicken Economics

© Another Day in the Country

Maybe these musings come to me because I’ve been getting ready to take our income tax information over to Chris — it’s that time of year.

Or maybe it was a blurb on the news again about how one percent of our population controls 98 percent of the wealth, which just boggles the mind.

For sure, there was a lot of crowing going on in Washington, D.C. according to the evening news, and about the same in my backyard where the chickens reside.

As I trudged through the elements to throw them a few goodies so they wouldn’t impeach me, I realized that my flock of chickens mirror the economic problems in America.

Although I’m quite certain that Ramona does not have anyone living here that qualifies as a “one percenter,” I’m pretty sure my resident rooster comes close.

Duke is the top dog in the chicken yard. His duties in life are mostly ceremonial. He has a title, a mansion, with a heat lamp in winter, and at least two servants. He has a pedigree: Barred Rock, which has only a slight association with Plymouth Rock where our ancestors landed; but, for all I know, his ancestors came over on a later boat.

The servants in this scenario are obviously me and my sister. We’re the maids — working for minimum wages. We immigrated from California 20 years ago and our ancestors came from Germany before that — legally, I might add.

We provide the food. We bring special treats. We also do clean-up. The Duke stands regally by while we do all the work, watching us from across the room. He doesn’t really trust us to be alone in the house for fear that we will steal things — like the family jewels — in this scenario, eggs.

The hens who live with him represent the rest of the economic population. They are the “worker bees,” the middle class. Oh, and they are women! We often refer to them as “the girls,” but in this era I need to mend my ways and be more respectful.

My middle class hens are Americanas, not flashy but they are industrious souls with an artistic bent. There’s only two left in the flock but their blue eggs are appearing regularly even when the temperatures plummet and snow stacks up outside their door.

Then there are the Top Knots, three hens who lay rarely, if at all. They’ve been slacking for six months and somehow qualify for public assistance. They don’t like me to say they are on welfare, but what else would you call it? Their sustenance depends on my two middle class hens. What happens when they are gone?

Originally, we had three Barred Rock hens. I suppose you could have called one of them Duke’s wife; but it was hard to pinpoint a favorite. None of them coveted the title of Duchess and furthermore the Duke is rather polygamous in nature. Those hens all succumbed to old age.

As roosters go, Duke is a rather benevolent dictator. He isn’t overbearing or exceedingly bossy. There are seasons — such as summer — when he crows a lot, strutting back and forth behind his chicken wire fencing.

There have been times when I’m sure he wished the fence was an actual wall that separated him and his harem from invading forces; but history does actually show that walls don’t work.

When the neighbor briefly had chickens, they came across the field like Genghis Kahn. The general population, which was much bigger then, paid little attention to the kerfluffle at the fence; but the Duke declared a national crisis and called for me to get out the big guns and defend the chicken nation.

I must admit that right about then I wished I had a shotgun of some kind and not just a defunct pellet gun. I was sick of all the noise and wanted the neighbor’s chickens to just go back where they came from. The only recourse I had was yelling and spraying the invaders with the garden hose.

That crisis passed when the coyotes came calling after dark. In Mother Nature’s plan, the wanderers became dinner for whatever was higher up the food chain and once again, like they say in the movies, “all was quiet on the western front.”

Today, when I went out to serve breakfast for the Duke and his ladies, a cold front had descended on Ramona. His chicken house castle was a little drafty around the edges as ancient castles always seem to be.

The Duke was aghast that temperatures had tumbled like the stock market during the night and their nest eggs, all his assets, were frozen.

“Not to fret,” I told him, “Jess and I will just have scrambled eggs for breakfast. Now there’s something to crow about on another day in the country.”

Last modified Feb. 28, 2019

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