Perhaps I was being a little harsh on turkeys yesterday. I mean turkeys are noble birds right? Ben Franklin even wanted to make our national bird a turkey (although God only knows why, am I right?)
Anyway, at the poultry farm we went to not only did they have turkeys but they also had a slew of chickens (and goats and pigs and bunnies and maple syrup) running freely around the yard. I’ve been to poultry “farms” before, in fact we got our lovely exotics at a chicken farm/agricultural center up north two years ago.
Those chickens were beautiful, they were healthy, active and because the owner so loved the different varieties of chickens there were many different breeds strolling around her yard. It was a chicken paradise.
Not so with the place we went this weekend. The chickens were pecked (but to be fair even some of our chickens are showing some pecking – I blame it on this never ending winter) and quite a few of them had raw exposed and bloody skin. There is really no time in chicken’s life that her butt should be bleeding.
Quite a few of the chickens had black marks on their combs most probably a result of a virus (a pox on their combs) or because of frostbite. If you ever look at the combs of the birds that do well in our northern winters (New Hampshire Reds, Rhode Island Reds, Ambers, etc) you’ll see they have combs that are smaller and flatter than the more outrageous combs. A frost bitten comb is a comb that will eventually fall off. It’s not a pretty sight. Apparently our hardy birds are willing to give up the bling in order to keep what little they have.
The kids were a little dismayed at these rag tag chickens. Eww mom look.
I had to remind them that this was a business and not everyone treats their chickens as pets like we do. These chickens were bred to lay eggs and to supply Sunday dinner. I doubted, I told my kids, that any of these chickens would end up painting a masterpiece or be part of a video game or be named after a New York Times bestselling author or even fall asleep in one’s lap after you have gently stroked her back.
It was their loss, we all agreed.