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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

16

The Best Time I Lubricated My Chicken's Vagina-Butt

About six months ago, my husband and I decided we hadn't become insufferable enough. Sure, we had abandoned the east coast to find ourselves in Tucson, Arizona. We were living in an adobe house, taking daily shots of apple cider vinegar, and attending yoga workshops featuring the progress mantra music of Blue Spirit Wheel. When a coworker mentioned she needed to find a home for her four chickens, we thought our next logical step was urban chicken farming.

We have a love-hate relationship with our chickens. To put it bluntly, our chickens—Miley, Joan, Denise, and Kanya—are assholes. They have destroyed our backyard, their disgusting fly-magnet poops are everywhere, and they are so dumb that they have made me reconsider factories with caged chickens. Seriously, they would be perfectly happy in a cage. In spite of all this, we are also deeply in love with them and have spent hours watching them frolic in a bale of hay, which I plan to video one day and turn into the next YouTube phenomenon.

A few weeks ago, my husband noticed that Kanya was acting strange. She was crouched inside the coop, giving us the stink eye, and refusing to move. Typically, Kanya is the queen bitch of the chickens bullying Miley and plotting ways to escape their pen. Suddenly, she wasn't eating, drinking, or trying to shit on our back step. Clearly, something was amiss. Like neurotic parents, we turned to the internet, which promptly lead us down a spiral of potential deadly chicken conditions.

After a few terror inducing message boards with people advocating killing the chicken immediately lest she infect the flock with her mystery illness, we decided the most logical diagnosis was she had a bound egg, which meant she had an egg trapped inside her body. It sounded like the most hellish form of constipation, and as I read further I began to panic. If you try to remove the egg and it breaks, the remnants will likely cause a bacterial infection and the chicken will die. If you leave the egg inside she will almost certainly die within 24-48 hours because—this was incredibly shocking for me—chickens lay eggs, poop, pee, everything out of one hole! They have some kind of combination urethra-vagina-butt, called a cloaca. (This fact must have made women excessively confusing to pre sex-ed/internet farm boys.) If the egg stays bound everything just gets backed up, and they die.

The clock was ticking. Kanya had been holed up in the coop since that morning, so she had less than 40 hours to live unless we did something. Now. Since this was the Hollywood version of a chicken crisis, the stakes had to be raised. The next day was Easter so even if we had a vet for our chickens, which we do not, no one would be open. At that point, I screamed at my husband, "We have to save our chicken!" and then ran through our house in a Marmee-from-Little-Women-inspired mania, looking for towels and hot water. We found a list of home remedies which suggested we put our chicken in a warm bath and massage her abdomen to help her relax and pass the egg. The blogs featured pictures of serene chickens lounging in their baths. Of course, Kanya acted as if we were trying to deep fry her and threw a massive fit as my husband forced her into the water while I tried to massage her stomach and pull dried poop off her feathers. Obviously, the bath wasn't as relaxing as we hoped. 

The next option, we read, was to use KY Jelly to lubricate the vent (chicken lingo for the all-in-one hole). A chicken's “vent” looks like a mix between an octopus sucker and a fish gulping for air. As my husband restrained Kanya, I started shoving KY Jelly up her butt. Right away, she started pushing it back out again to which I responded by yelling triumphantly, "It's working!" only to realize that the natural response to having two humans shove lube up your butt was to push it back out again. After 30 minutes of bathing, massaging, and lubricating, we decided to put her back in the pen. Immediately, Kanya dropped a massive turd. It was the most excited I've ever been to see something shit. It meant she didn't have a bound egg, but it also meant we had absolutely no idea what was wrong with her.

Later that evening, we found a poop chart on the internet that showed in intricate detail all the different types of possible chicken poops. Oddly, the normal range is ridiculously broad. Yellow running poops? Sure, happens about once a week. Green and white speckled poops? Just your run-of-the-mill daily poop. Armed with a colored print-out, we began running around the pen saying things like, does this one look like a normal cecal poop or does she have ringworm? Having deduced nothing from our attempt at poop diagnostics, we found a site that forced us to face the harsh truth. If something was seriously wrong with Kanya, she was probably going to die. Confronted with our chicken's mortality, we tried the last thing on the home remedies list, giving her olive oil in hope that it would help clear out a sour crop or any toxic plants. We gave her a bunch of raisins soaked in olive oil and put her to sleep.

The next day, she was walking around the pen (thrilling!), but still making these weird noises, puffing herself up and flapping her wings. I was convinced she was delirious from dehydration. We waited in agony until the next day when the local feed store would open. Our last hope was to buy a series of powders that might cure certain infections or worms.

I was at work when my husband called. It was the end, I just knew it. He calmly explained that he had a long talk with a woman at the feed store, and she thought she knew what was wrong. I waited for him to describe some kind of torturous terminal chicken disease. Instead he explained there was nothing physically wrong with Kanya. My blood started to boil. All the sympathy I had garnered for Kanya evaporated. She was just brooding. Brooding! For the non-chicken expert, brooding meant that our chicken had baby fever. Sometimes a chemical is released in a chicken's brain that makes them think their eggs have been fertilized and will hatch if they just sit on them long enough. If the eggs are just regular eggs, chickens can starve to death waiting for them to hatch, which sounded exactly like my little asshole Kanya. Your only option is to break the chicken.

First, we could isolate Kanya in her own pen with food and water until she forgot about her nonexistent babies. Or, we could try to dupe her by actually buying a baby chick, sticking it under her, and tricking her into believing it's her baby—the ultimate plan in chicken deception. That night, my husband chose the more reasonable option to make a wire teepee in a different part of the yard despite my instance on get a stuffed animal chick and play chirping noises to make her think it was real. We dragged Kanya out of the coop and she started squawking frantically. Once in the teepee she seemed to calm down. She fell asleep within a few minutes, mostly because it's physically impossible for chickens to stay awake when it's dark outside. We stood like proud parents watching our chicken sleep peacefully. The worst was over.

Five a.m. the next morning, we were jolted out of sleep by deranged squawking. Kanya had woken up the other chickens and they were squawking back and forth like the world's most obnoxious game of telephone. I wanted to murder her and half expected the neighbors to be showing up at our door with pitchforks. We put her back in her pen and she promptly marched back into the coop to sit on her nest. When we actually woke up, I decided the only open was to close the coop. It would piss off the other chickens who wouldn't have anywhere to lay their eggs, but it was the only option. We dragged her out one last time, and with the help of a giant rock and plywood, the coop was closed.

Kanya was back to normal. I, having lubed a chicken vagina-butt, would need a few more days to recover.

 

C. Maria McMillan is kind of an architect, kind of an archivist, and kind of lives in Tucson.



16 Comments / Post A Comment

Koko Goldstein

Just a Tucsonan saying hiiiiiii. . .

NoSeriously

@Koko Goldstein Another Tucsonan saying heyyyyyyyy...

Jill_Tata

Amaziiiiing! Nice work, it's been well worth the wait! :D@k

rabbitrabbit

Fun fact: in Latin, "cloaca" (or some close version of this derivative) means "sewer." Everything runs through it!

tofuswalkman

oh my god, this has been my life for the past three months as i've been raising baby chicks. i've absolutely looked at that chicken poop website, more than once. except my experience has made me an even more irritatingly vigilant vegetarian, as all my stupid chickens, while stupid, have their own personal interests and personalities, which makes me goddamn furious that anyone could bear to torture them in the myriad ways concocted by factory farms. ANYWAY, this was hilarious!

PotatoPotato

For what-EV-er reason, my reaction to this article was to do a Google image search for "chicken vent."

theharpoon

@PotatoPotato she even told you what it looked like! some people are just gluttons for punishment, I guess

PotatoPotato

@theharpoon: I'm not going to pretend it was a GOOD idea.

FWIW, her description is spot-on.

theharpoon

I like how this author is clearly nuts but also very AWARE that she's nuts

beetnemesis

@theharpoon That describes about half of the authors on this site, which is the main reason I keep coming back.

StLAmy

My first thought when reading this was she'd just gone broody. I was relating a story from the internet about chickens, to my dad who raised chickens in the depression. He told me when chickens go broody you put them under a bucket every day until they snap out of it.

Olivia2.0

@StLAmy I can't tell you how much this solution amuses me, and I wish I could suggest it as a solution to all things.

Possibly someone should put Kanye under a bucket until he straightens up and realizes it's a terrible idea to marry Kim! Maybe drug addicts should just be put under a bucket until they forget drugs exist!

Also, I concur that chickens are STOOPID.

Helen James@facebook

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Kay Napoli@facebook

that is sooooo weird.... lol. but you gotta do what u gotta do

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