Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chicken Wrangling

blackeye peasOut West the farmers have so much open space that they try to do everything on a large scale. I met a fellow who kept a chicken ranch of over 5000 birds. He herded them like cattle. Every fall specially trained dogs and poultry wranglers would drive the flock south to fields he owned in Florida. Come spring they'd move north again. "It's a tedious process," he said, "but they can't handle winter on the plains."

I suggested he add a little Wizard Water© to their feed. "They will either warm up with calisthenics, or fly all the way to Ocala," I said. He did as I suggested, and sure enough, the trip to Florida was shortened by half.

However, with extra time on their hands, the birds started getting into poker games with the wranglers. They used themselves as collateral. The wranglers, who couldn’t read the birds’ expressions, began losing games, and often accused them of cheating.

This came to an abrupt end on the return trip when the flock thundered through a field outside of Abilene. They churned up the crops so badly that the sheriff fined the farmer 25 cents per chicken to pay for damages.

Since then, the farmer ships his chickens by train. It costs more than traveling by foot, he says, but it’s cheaper than paying a fine for what the sheriff called "disturbing the peas." Plus, the birds aren’t allowed to run free, so he doesn’t have to worry about fowl play.

copyright ©2011 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

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