Rooster boosters


By Marla Boone

Contributing columnist

Although it may be remembered by me alone, in the dark days of COVID Version 1.0, I wrote an article about how very desperate people had become for human contact. The isolation, the sequestering, the separation from friends and family all weighed heavily on people to the point that any contact at all would do. Because America cannot tolerate a void left unfilled, someone with a spare cow … an admittedly small candidate pool … saw an opportunity where millions of other people saw a pandemic. Apparently folks in the final throes of touch withdrawal would pay enormous sums of money just to cuddle a cow as a substitute for cuddling something of their own species.

For those who find cows a little unwieldy, not to mention tough to housebreak, there is a new solution for COVID Version Whichever One We’re Experiencing. I know this is true because I read about it in The New Yorker, which is just like reading it on the Internet, only more liberal and with much better punctuation. There is a couple in Connecticut that will go one better than loaning you a cow. They will rent you a chicken. And not just a chicken. They will deliver unto you, and I quote, “two to four egg-laying-ready hens, more than a hundred pounds of feed and instructions on how to keep your chickens happy.”

All this, of course, raises more questions than it answers. Firstly, and without going into a messy anatomy lesson, can someone explain what an “egg-laying-ready hen is?” Well I know about the hen part but the rest of it is a mystery. Just how ready is an egg-laying-ready hen? Secondly, it’s hard to tell when a chicken is happy and smiling because chickens have real stiff lips.

Not everyone who rents a chicken is ready to fully eschew all things modern and return to the earth. They are, however, ready to eschew common sense. Like all responsible chicken-renters, the people who own the business check up on their charges. This is especially important because a fair number of people renting chickens live in the Hamptons. I’m not sure, because I’m never too sure (nor too concerned) about these things, but I think the Hamptons is where Martha Stewart lives. While Martha herself may not be a chicken-renter, there is not a doubt in my mind she could explain to you in excruciating, condescending detail how to do it better.

I am now quoting pieces of the article in The New Yorker because if I hadn’t read this in a reputable magazine, I would have thought it was farce. One renting family’s four-year-old was “clinging to his au pair in the pool.” The father “stretched out on an outdoor sofa” and explained that he had heard about Rent A Chicken while “at a polo match” which “turned (him) on to his whole incredible world of renting animals.” Mr. Polo Match, finely attuned to his earthy roots, right down to the last chukka, was concerned about the chickens’ habit of digging in the dirt. He had never heard of an avian dirt bath and wanted to “make sure it wasn’t some form of depression.” I swear I am not making this up. Some form of depression. As though there are dozens of kinds of heretofore unrecognized and undiagnosed poultry psychoses. (P.S. The guy worrying about chicken depression was drinking tequila on the rocks at 10 in the morning. I think that’s what the shrinks call projection.) But wait, there’s more. Instead of sawdust in the nesting boxes, the renter had bought “special silicon pads” and a small picnic bench for the chickens “to sit at.” Lest you think these chickens are enjoying an unfettered life of egg-laying luxury, the article does mention that the kid, you know, the one in the pool with his au pair, feeds the poor poultry dried mealworms (good, actually) mixed with his saliva (bad, entirely).

All this extensive quoting is an effort to let us country bumpkins know how the other half lives and by that I mean it’s clear just because you live in the Hamptons and have an outdoor couch and a pool complete with an au pair and a spit-mixing kid and creeping anxiety about chicken mental health and an unquenchable Tequila Jones, doesn’t mean that you have any more sense than the chickens you are renting.

Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today.

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