[lit-ideas] Re: One small step for mankind

  • From: David Ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 29 May 2004 13:26:19 -0700

Fair warning: the following post's feeble excuse for being is that Robert
Paul has asked us to consider how fair we need to be to certain fowl, which
raises two issues I know something about: justice and chickens.

on 5/28/04 10:33 PM, Robert Paul at Robert.Paul@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

> Even chickens get a better life under new animal laws

If Robert Paul reads our local news-piper's gardening section, he will
already know what I'm going to tell you--that free ranging chickens are
virtuous; they are the best current answer to the problem of rats under bird

Birds do three things when perching on a feeder: eat, chuck bits over the
side, fertilize the ground below.  Thus bird feeders can attract rats and,
if water is available, start little gardens.   Our neighbor had exactly this
problem.  Bloomin' big rats too.

Obviously chickens are not the only solution.  You could teach the birds to
eat tidily, perhaps by leaving a copy of Emily Post for them to read.  You
could train a cat as a kind of a bouncer, keeping only the unruly element
from the bounty.  But the recommended answer is to colonize with chickens,
roaming freely below.  You must, however, take them in at night.  As I
learned only yesterday, night is not for chickens.

The tale goes like this.  Laura came home with the news that the husband of
one of her patients is in a band.  She wanted to consider hiring this band
for Julia's Bat Mitzvah.  Since they were playing about two miles from our
house, she proposed going with friends, after dinner, to hear them.

Monty's Tavern in Beaverton is not our usual kind of hangout.  Thick with
smoke, and peopled by regl'r folk, it resembles little shack bars all across
America.  It was totally unencumbered by twee paraphenalia, or I might add,
divers in Speedos.  We listened to the band for a bit.  The playing was
competent, if a little old-fashioned, a lively and pretty accurate version
of "Honky Tonk Woman," for example.  I noted was that guitars are no longer
plugged in with wires; they broadcast wireless signals to the amps.  You,
having been to a rock concert some time in the last twenty years, already
knew this.

So I was minding my own business when this huge guy came up to me, which is
not a thing you want to happen in such a bar.  He pointed his finger at a
woman seated at a table.  "She wants to dance with you."  No one was
dancing.  Emily Post and all my knowledge of chickens, rats, and history
hadn't primed me with a proper answer, so I fell back on the actor's
trick--if in doubt, mumble and gesture.  I waved my hand towards my wife,
"I'm with her."  He walked away.

We showered when we got home, and at one in the morning, hung all our
clothing outside to de-smoke it.  Today neither of us feels like a spring or
any other kind of chicken, but we comfort ourselves with the illusion that
we now do not feel as old as we did before dinner yesterday evening, and
there's some sort of justice in that.

David Ritchie
Portland, Oregon 

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