And then I wrote...

by Dick Schilling, Editor Emeritus

... that the TV stations over the weekend were announcing that some Iowa turkey and chicken growers were being given the okay to start re-stocking their operations after they were decimated by bird flu.
You can’t put a story about turkeys and chickens on television without showing pictures of the birds, so they hauled out, in some cases, the same stock footage they had used when the disease was first discovered. Some of the shots showed confined chickens and some apparently free-range.
In the weeks following the killing of millions of birds, there were many ideas expressed about how to avoid such outbreaks in the future. One expert suggested diversity of breeds might be a partial answer. Diversity seems to be the answer to everything these days!
When I thought back to the pictures I had seen initially, I wondered what sort of breeds were represented, because there seemed to be white chickens and orange or rust colored chickens, and even a black one or two represented.
Which in turn led me to think about the varieties we raised right here in town for several years. Do those breeds still exist, or have they been cross-bred out of existence? I can recall that at different times and in different years, we raised Buff Orpingtons, Plymouth Rocks, White Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Leghorns and Black Minorcas. A couple of them produced brown eggs. Leghorns were supposed to be the most productive and, because they were smaller, cheaper to raise. Same with the Minorcas. Since we raised straight run flocks, that was good news as far as the hens were concerned, but bad news when it came to the roosters. A Rock or Buff rooster at maturity might weigh twice as much as a Leghorn male.
I’m a little fuzzy in my memory of how it worked, but I know that one way to try to get a larger rooster was to caponize them. I think there was a special syringe-like instrument with which a pellet was injected into the bird’s neck. It was presumably sort of an anti-Viagra drug which let the roster concentrate on eating rather than the presence of hens.
“Kids today” don’t often have the opportunity of trying to reach under a setting hen to remove an egg, which she is loathe to give up!
Nor do they have the chance to hear their mother (or other egg preparer) utter a sound of disgust over presence of a trace of blood in an egg, since they were not “candled” when harvested. But they also are deprived of hearing the announcement that they were lucky, because the egg that was just broken for their meal had two yolks!
Speaking of surprises, I looked out my front window one recent evening about dusk and saw a beautiful full-grown whitetail doe cross the road onto my lawn, look left, then turn right and walk calmly to the north. She appeared at ease.