Saturday, July 04, 2009

We had us a morning

A year ago, our local chicken-keeping friends supplemented their flock with full-grown hens from Chinatown. It worked out great for them and Cathy says they're particularly "nice" chickens. Today, Owen and I were going grocery shopping in San Francisco and he wanted to get a chicken to replace the one we recently lost. I agreed to make a stop at Grant Avenue where there are some infamous live poultry shops, much hated by PETA.

CRAZINESS. Pheasants, peacocks, Chinese silky chickens whose flesh is black, plus the more ordinary laying hens. I asked about turkeys and would have bought some if they'd had any, but they didn't, thank God. I would like to get turkeys, but would prefer they come from a more savory home. Conditions: frankly, awful. Malodorous and crowded and filthy. I had second thoughts as I handed over $8 for a mangy looking chicken -- a Rhode Island red, I think -- in a paper bag, but it all happened so fast I couldn't stop and deliberate. We were in and out of there in under three minutes.

We put her in a laundry basket in the car and did our grocery shopping. Came back, she had shat all over the basket and elsewhere in the car and was huddling on the floor. Overwhelmed with misgivings now. The car reeked. Owen and I drove home mouth-breathing, all the windows open, fretting about diseases she might spread to our wholesome and sheltered flock. I considered stopping and dumping her out of the car in the Presidio. Just couldn't. Couldn't even tell Owen it crossed my mind.

We let her out in the yard with our chickens. She's incredibly docile and wimpy compared to the others, easy to catch, disinclined to move. Our original chickens are a peppy, prickly, and assertive bunch -- all except Alberta Einstein, who has already glommed on to the newcomer, like the lonely little nerd she is. I went out a while ago and the newcomer and Alberta were hanging out in the dark hen house, all the other birds were pecking around in the pretty part of the yard.

We were planning to go for a picnic today, but my grandmother decided to come up from Palo Alto, so now we are hosting a Vietnamese cookout. Owen and I did the shopping and  as soon as he emerges from his disinfecting bath, we are going to start cooking. 

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