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Karma Soup

We were sitting at our favorite diner a few Saturdays ago when my husband asked, “Do you think we should get a straight pick again?”

We’d had chickens before – sometimes we got the chicks from the feedstore; sometimes as refugees from a school project – so when we accidentally ordered the straight pick a few years ago, we felt pretty confident we could handle life with the three roosters that had made it into our coop.  Besides, we knew that baby male chicks are usually macerated at birth, so sparing them might feed our karma a little.

So we brought home our chicks, and because we buy our birds strictly for eggs, we had no qualms about naming all of them.  We called the hens, “The Ladies”.  They were very similar in appearance (all Rhode Island Reds), and they liked to help me in garden and at the laundry line.

The roosters were easy to differentiate fairly quickly, however, and our boys quickly came up with names.  Thing1 named the Red rooster “Red”, and a Barred Rock with feathery feet was named “Fluffy”.  Thing2 chose “Chickie” as the name for the smallest of the three roosters, and, in the beginning, the name suited the downy white bird.

Fluffy quickly found a home with a family who wanted to build up their flock, and for a while it seemed as though Chickie and Red would rule the roost jointly.  But Mother Nature had different ideas.

Just as the hens started giving us eggs, the roosters started noticing the hens, and, much to our consternation, began demonstrating the facts of life on an hourly basis.  With 12 ladies and 2 roosters, you’d think Red and Chickie would have been in seventh heaven, but Roosters, as it happens, will let a woman get between them.  And when Red decided to go after one of Chickie’s hens the feathers started flying.  The fight escalated quickly, and, as Chickie became more enraged, I realized we were about to be a one-rooster family.  I grabbed an old fireplace screen that hadn’t made it to the dump and dropped it between the two combatants.  It didn’t stop the fight, but at least Red was safe – for the moment.  And I patted myself on the back as I counted my accruing karma units.

Red had never heard of karma, apparently, because just a few short weeks after I had saved his life, he charged me at the laundry line.  The attacks became more frequent, and, in the absence of any good books on chicken psychology, I deduced that I had injured his pride a few weeks earlier.  Red wasn’t aware of my theories, of course and went on attacking me.

The day he attacked my youngest son, however, he used up the last of my good will. Thing2 was driving matchbox cars on the ground when suddenly Red flew at him.  I saw him attack and got between them before Red could hurt him, but I was furious.  An hour later, Red learned about consequences, and we discovered that, unlike revenge, karma should be served with stuffing.