Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Life at the (chicken) frontier

David (age 9): "I do not have time for labor. I solve lots of maths problems instead."
Edward (age 6): "But when a wall will fall down in your house, David, you'll have to call me up. I'll come and fix it for you."

I am not sure that I want walls to fall down in David's first house, but Edward has a point. It is good to have some knowledge of practical things.

I totally freaked out when the furnace almost blew up the other day. However, Ioji (the person I pay to build and repair things around the house) took a big stick and went to fix the furnace. We had identified that the pump had failed. So, he hit the pump lightly with the stick, and plugged it and unplugged it a few of times and it got unstuck. What was wrong? Well .. there is no filter on incoming the water. So, some impurities could have gotten the pump stuck. The second pump was not connected in the right place in the installation and it never started. So, then without a pump to push the water through the system, the water kept heating increasing the pressure and temperature in the furnace. While I have somebody who will come to check the installation this week, the furnace has been working since this incident without trouble.  Of course, I should have understood the installation before it was turned on.

w. Pufi, Petunia and Negruzi
Edward and Negruzi
Ioji has become a sort of hero for Edward who spends a lot of time "helping" him. They are turning two sheds into rooms for the summer, have re-plastered one, built a new fence around the garden, put tiles in one bathroom, and are now finishing a second one.

Edward is at times taking things too far for my taste.  When it was suggested that he might be interested in reading some of the old books in the house (he has read/been read to all the books we had in Switzerland), he said "I used to like books, but such things will be for James now. I am busy either with Ioji or with the chickens". Even after such declarations, he likes being read to every night.

Preparing for an uncertain tomorrow
 To prepare our minds and hearts for the decisions taken by our just elected leaders, we are supporting a chicken army manned by 17 chickens.
In September, we got 15 hens from a factory farm. Then we received one from a family friend, and another two came as baby chicks from a different friend.  At first, most of our chickens were sad and lacked feathers. Now there are still 2 or 3 balder hens, but most are very pretty. When Edward talks to them he is very careful with their feelings: "You are my favorite hen, you know. Yes, you are bald, but you are still so beautiful and lay the most eggs."

Naming scheme
Negruzi is a dwarf rooster. He crows many times a day and sometimes  wakes up at night, and crows some more. He reminds us that the sun is or will be up.  Pufi is a white chicken, and Petunia, a red hen. The others are reddish egg-laying chickens. The factory farm hens are so far labeled with numbers.

Since we have raised Negruzi and Pufi, they are more spoiled than the rest.   They sleep on the veranda and prefer to lay down on soft materials like the carpet or clothes. Petunia befriended them to enjoy some of their privileges.

 We fight for our eggs with Codita, the dog. When the dog is in the kitchen or in the garden, we find up to 5 eggs a day, otherwise, at most two. Since the oldest woman in the world says she survived this long by eating two to three eggs a day, my theory is that  Coditia simply desires to become the world's oldest dog. She is 117 and still alive. Codita is just a few months old.

Andy does not find chickens a necessity, but appears very fond of them. In fact, he was the first to call them his army because they like following him around. A recent discussion between us was along the following lines:
Andy: "I was chopping wood, and one of the children came to see me".
Me: "Was it Edward or David?"
Andy: "No, it was Girl Number 5. One of the pretty ones."

Why do we have chickens? When did Edward's fascination for chicken start?
Edward, David and I were walking home from school one day. We saw a man who was throwing chicken out of his car like potatoes. He was bringing them to a person living on a nearby street. The children quickly asked if they are for sale. He said they cost 10 lei/chicken (this is about 2 euros), but that we have to buy at least ten. So, we bought 10 and then 5 more after a minor misunderstanding. He had 80 chicken left, and had received them for free or close to free from a nearby factory farm.

It is to be noted that Edward's love for chickens turned on long before we had any such pets. It just happened one day at around the age of 5. He did not want to eat chicken anymore. He would walk with Andy and see chicken in the store aisle and ask: "how can people eat something as beautiful as a chicken?". Andy, who had eaten chicken most of his life, did not quite follow the argument, but agreed to switch to soy. Since we've had chicken, Andy says eating chicken would feel like eating a friend. [He does eat them sometimes when he eats out]

The future and the past
It turns out we have genes in common with most of the animals and plants we eat.  We even share 50% of our DNA with bananas, and 60% with the chickens. This is because of evolution. Mary Schweitzer dipped T-rex bones into acid found blood cells and soft tissue remains that link it most closely to the chicken. Humans, of course, came much latter.

 My chicken army is manned by the closest living relative of the T-rex, and is mostly female.

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