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GAMBLE: Chicken vet bills come home to roost

Opinion column

T. Gamble

T. Gamble

The long awaited day finally arrived this past Saturday when the Princess’s chickens finally laid their first eggs.

I had bought a special bag of “laying feed” on Friday, but had not anticipated results quite that fast. I think I’ll check to see if they have any human feed for those hoping to get pregnant. On second thought, maybe that is a bad idea, as it doesn’t appear anyone around here is having that particular problem.

We have five chickens about 6 months old. Five are regular sized and one is a very small chicken that the little 10-year-old girl named Daisy. Her eggs are half the size of the others, and that delighted the little girl.

The 8-year-old Hurricane boy was equally enthused, but mainly because he wanted to start an egg-throwing fight, explaining that we can’t eat five eggs a day, so we may as well enjoy them some other way. He is now permanently banned from the chicken coup and the refrigerator.

All of this coincides with a new craze that the Wall Street Journal wrote about Monday. According to the Journal, thousands of people now have chickens as pets with no intention of eating them or their eggs.

It quotes a Ms. Lazar, who has a chicken named Edie. She says she spent $300 on vet bills trying to help Edie, who was in distress for reasons unknown. Perhaps she was in distress because Ms. Lazar named her Edie.

The vet found nothing, unless you consider she did find a big enough fool in Ms. Lazar willing to spend $300 on a non-chicken cure, but Ms. Lazar discovered the true problem was an egg stuck wherever it is chickens push out eggs. At last report, the chicken was resting comfortably at home, but was still disturbed at being named Edie.

The Journal notes it is difficult to find a vet familiar with treating sick chickens. In days gone by, an injured chicken quickly became fried chicken. but no more. Dr. Greenacre, a Tennessee vet — and I swear I did not make up that name — reports being paid $2,000 for surgery on a chicken last month.

If I pay $2,000 for chicken surgery, it better look like Catherine Zeta Jones when the surgery is finished. The chicken better be able to cluck “The Star-Spangled Banner” and lay five eggs a day. But the vet said her customer was well satisfied. She could have added and also a stark raving mad lunatic.

The article finally told about Stephen Brown, whose claim to fame is he once worked with Tori Spelling on the TV show “Craft Wars.” Mr. Brown travels with his chicken and she has her own $1,000-plus travelling container. He gleefully explained, “She laid her first egg in the bed of a Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta, Georgia.”

I can make a few observations at this point. First, strike the Ritz from future 5-star bookings. Also, if a Ritz employee brags about the comfortable feather beds, nod and say, “ Yes, and I understand you also have breakfast in bed.” Finally, I have deep concerns about any man who sleeps in a bed with a chicken. A dog, maybe; a cat, questionable, but, by God, a chicken crosses the line.

Chickens are made to eat and produce eggs to eat. There is no honor in taking Henrietta the chicken for a walk around the block. Chickens will not sit, fetch or play dead, and neither will any of my dogs, which is beside the point, as if I had a point to begin with.

All I can say is I pray every day that Daisy does not become ill. I don’t have Dr. Greenacre on speed-dial.

Email columnist T. Gamble at wtg@colliergamble.com.