Barnyard Hate Crimes: Ethics, Murderous Roosters & Bloody Tennis Rackets

Posted: March 28, 2015 in The Rest of It
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“Hey,” said my best friend through the phone, “I just wanted to let you know I had to kill the rooster today.”

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A Golden Polish Rooster

“How bad did he mess you up,” I chuckled, surprised it had taken so long. I’d given him the rooster, a Golden Polish, and some hens around a year ago, when he decided to take up the hobby. “He didn’t get your eyes did he?”

“That son of a bitch…” he went on, telling a story that anyone who has ever raised chickens can certainly relate to. It was one of those hell spawn roosters, a shining speckled brute with a spiked hair do and the attitude to match. He’d come to live in terror of his rooster, never naming the bastard for fear of offending it and provoking more of its vicious attacks. It was the kind of rooster that would intentionally roll eggs to the edge of the coop, then lie in wait around the corner, or scooch down on the roof just above. Anyone stupid enough to fall for this ploy deserved the raping that would no doubt ensue. You’d be surprised, by the way, just how big a chicken dick really is.

imageMark said that when the feathered demon jumped out from behind the wall, that it had that look in it’s eye and he didn’t want to know how big a rooster cock is anymore than you do. It had charged him several times, flailing, jumping, spurring, all at head height, all in his face. If you’ve ever been subject to a full size, full scale rooster attack, it’s damned scary…and some roosters don’t play. This was one of those roosters and it didn’t respond to anything but violence, and then, only a little. The basic tactic, with a rooster like that, is to stun it with a broom for long enough to get your eggs and get the hell out of the pen.

And it’s all about preemptive strikes. Don’t be afraid to plot out the best way to sneak up on him and hit him with a tennis racket because you better believe he’s thinking the same thoughts about you. Make no mistake, some roosters are flat out terrorists, controlling their flock and access to it by the most vicious means available. The only thing that stops them from crucifying and burning their enemies, which include anything not a hen, is their lack of opposable thumbs, or fingers…plus the fact that chickens are stupid. Well that’s three things. So sue me. The point is, fair’s fair and I’ve never been afraid to sneak up behind one and punt it like a football, at least, not after it tried to kill me. And rape me. And rob me.

They rob you, by the way, for the same reason they rape you. It’s all about power and control. And fear.

imageMy best friend hit his rooster in the head with a metal pipe. He said it wobbled a bit, something like Foghorn Leghorn after the dog hit him with a cast iron skillet, and then fell over, dead as a door nail. Or dead as a damned raping flogging rooster that got hit with a steel pipe. Take your pick.

Speaking of skillets, that’s where his rooster was headed when I talked to him. He’d already plucked it and singed off most of the little hairs. There’d been a good sized chicken under all those feathers and I informed him that it would be one of the best dinners he’d ever had. It comes pretty close to being a free meal (which tastes awesome on its own) when you kill a chicken like that but moreso, there is nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing that tastes better than eating a thing that you deeply and truly hate.

Trust me.

When I was a kid, chickens were not enough for my parents. Nope, my folks took up registered Brahma cattle raising as a “hobby.” They said it built character for me and kept me out of trouble. They were half right…it’s hard to go cause trouble when you’re mired to your waist in mud and cow flops…as in physically impossible.

There was one cow out of the lot, the used cow that came from a commercial farm impregnated with a possessed halfwit calf, the evil cow, the one with that same look in her eye…her name was Snowflake. And that monster bitch hated me. After being chased, butted, pushed through barbed wire and electric fences, I came to hate her too. So when it came her time, when Mom and Pops finally hated her as much as I did, they loaded her in the trailer. Destination: butcher shop.

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A Brahma heifer with “that look.”

In retrospect, my parents probably thought it was cute as they watched me, from afar, saying my goodbyes to the condemned prisoner. I was saying my goodbyes, all right… I told that cow they were going to take her to a warehouse, perhaps the same warehouse where Lethal Weapon was filmed, and Gary Busey was going to hang her from a chain. They were going to drip water on her and shock her teats with a car battery. Then, Mel Gibson was going to choke her to death with his sweaty Mad Max crotch maneuver.

Take that evil cow…how do you like them apples?

About a week later, Snowflake returned to us. It was Saturday afternoon when two big beefy guys showed up in a refrigerated delivery truck. With two sets of hand trucks, they proceeded to re home the demon cow, forty paper wrapped one pound packages at a time, in our downstairs freezer. They’d moved about half a cow when they had to take a break so Pops and I could hit up Sears for an additional stand up freezer. You’d be surprised how much beef comes out of a cow.

You’d also be surprised how good she tasted. Granted, she was a grass fed animal and, besides tormenting me, she’d never worked a day in her life, so she’d be tasty either way. But as tender and marbled as her ghost was, it was my intense hatred for that animal as an individual that really made the little flavor explosions on my tongue go pop. The wide white scar on my right palm, still prominent three decades later, that came from being shoved and bullied through a barbed wire fence made her dead, seared and pecan encrusted flesh taste like…victory. Victory, with a side of Appalachia blood-feud vengeance.

Like I said, nothing tastes so spectacular as the thing that you hated when it was alive.

After Mark’s call, I found myself wishing his chicken dinner wasn’t a three hour drive away. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten a despised and persecuted piece of fowl, longer still since I’ve eaten any sort of fowl at all. And I miss it. But, once you’ve snatched an attacking rooster out of mid air and promptly twisted it’s head off before plucking, cooking and eating it, good old American factory farmed chickens just don’t cut it anymore.

Not that they ever really did, for that matter. If you’ve even driven past a commercial chicken operation, and the wind is right, you smell death and decay. Yep. That’s what those long, narrow, low topped buildings are and that smell is exactly what it smells like it is. Nothing that comes from that can taste good. Or be good.

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Battery hens…or…where your eggs come from

Most commercially raised chickens spend their entire lives in boxes large enough only to contain a motionless chicken. They’re usually genetically modified, growing rapidly and spending significant portions of their short lives in tightly confined pain. Overcrowding leads to rampant disease, which leads to massive doses of antibiotics which, well, leads to even worse disease. Chicken labeled “free range” isn’t much better. The chickens have about the same amount of space, just without the cages, so in addition to all the other existing problems, free range chickens can add fighting into the mix. Think I’m jiving you? Look it up.

In America, the birds we raise and eat enjoy few, if any, legal protections, aside from those that prohibit bloodsports like cockfighting. Legislation such as the Humane Slaughter Act does not cover fowl. So when I make a joke about executing a rooster, South American style, with a machete, I’m only half joking. The fact is, if I want, I can throw a dozen or so chickens in a barrel of boiling water and mass scald them to death because it’s cleaner than chopping off a live head and easier to pluck them while the blood drains. Besides, it’s totally legal.

If I desire to perform live vivisections and bizarre biological experiments on my chickens, that’s also, basically, legal. Not that I’ve ever done any of that, nor do I intend to, for that matter. I’ve just never been able to bring myself to hate an animal enough to torture one just for the sake of it…or even to make a quick buck…and that’s really what it boils down to. A baby chick, ordered through the mail, costs about a buck. By the time it’s big enough to eat, I’ve had four to six dollars in it. That doesn’t count the time it would take to pluck, butcher, clean and package it in fancy plastic wrapping. Or transport it to a grocery, either. I’ve had, said and done, about twice the amount of investment in one chicken as Tyson or Purdue, and I guaran-fucking-tee you they’re still clearing a substantial profit, even when you walk out of the market with a four dollar frozen pullet from the clearance shelf.

At the local farmers market, a medium-large bird, dressed and ready for the roasting pan, comes out to about twenty five bucks. A high price indeed, it’s one I’m not really willing to pay, nor is most of the rest of the country, especially not when several manufactured chickens can be procured for the same cost. A lot of the people who buy these chickens could care less if their dinner was tortured or abused or poisoned. A farm animal, to a large segment of America, is an abstract concept, something that can’t be related to because most Americans will never meet a cow or a chicken up close.

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Free Range chickens are worth the extra $$$.

For every car-jacking face-raping son of a bitch rooster, there are a dozen hens who like to have their feathers itched after eating grapes and worms from your fingers. Live creatures with unique personalities. People sort of realize this, I think, and marketers draw on classic and recognizable barnyard imagery when choosing advertising buzzwords like Farm Fresh, Cage Free, Free Range, take your pick. They don’t really mean anything, except that you’re going to pay a little more for basically the same bird.

Vegetarian-fed is my favorite marketing term. In order for egg shells to be sufficiently strong, chickens require additional calcium, usually in the form of bone meal or crushed oyster shells…not vegetarian. Chickens that are truly free ranged eat a diet pretty high in bugs and worms…also not vegetarian. The vegetarian-fed claims are basically a reaction (or an offhanded admission) to the revelation that commercial chickens are often fed other chickens, dead chickens, diseased chickens, leftover bits that can’t be sold. Efficiency at its best…

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One of my Cochin hens talking to the Vizsla

My chickens like cole slaw and macaroni and cheese. And lots of grapes. They like to sit in tiny nests for days at a time, trying to hatch eggs I’ve already snagged. They also like to run loose in the yard, digging holes, eating bugs and shitting on everything. And I mean everything. They’ll coo at you when they want something and they’ll come when you call them. Chicken keeping, at its essence, is a symbiotic relationship between two species where both sides bear a responsibility to the other as well as an opportunity to benefit from the experience.

When a big rooster violates this relationship by trying to blind you with his spurs, it’s entirely appropriate to baptize his ass into glory with the head ringing end of a garden spade. And then you eat the old hateful thing for dinner. What happens, though, when man starts to systematically violate the animal, to treat it as though it’s hated, even when all the animal has ever done is hold up its end of the deal? One man gets paid and the other gets fed…and the chicken gets fucked…that’s what happens. And I think that’s sad.

So, as a personal rule, I choose to only eat chickens who have been righteously hated and killed in self defense. That, unfortunately, means I don’t get to eat chicken often, not ever, really, and that’s ok. It’s a small price to not have to pay to not be complicit in what amounts to legalized systematic abuse, hateful treatment for the sake of profit instead of hate itself.

It’s ok to hate a rooster when it hates you first just like it’s ok to knock it’s head off when it tries to kill you. Like I said, the hatred, a natural phenomenon of the man-bird relationship paradigm, simply makes a Southern-style home fried chicken dinner that much more spectacular. Or anything else, for that matter.

Three years ago, when my fiancé and I were vacationing at the Outer Banks, we were suddenly attacked by a massive swarm of black biting flies. We were outnumbered, overwhelmed, panicking from one painful attack after another, and running like hell for the car. Once inside, safe from the nasty little bastards, our breathing slowed and our heart rates approached normal. Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain on my bicep as one bit into me. Too busy feasting upon my blood to notice he was being snatched by his little wing, he found himself staring into my eyes, legs wiggling and wings buzzing, it was his turn to panic. Fair is fair, and I don’t care what you say, that parasitic little beast knew it.

Wanna know how that hateful little blood sucking black fly tasted? Just like it sounds…delicious.

 

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  1. […] Barnyard Hate Crimes: Ethics, Murderous Roosters & Bloody Tennis Rackets […]

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