My kids have this book they love for us to read to them called, “The Chicken of the Family,” by Mary Amato. It’s about this girl, Henrietta, whose two older sisters tease her until she becomes convinced she really is a chicken. She visits Barney’s farm to find her “real” chicken family, and moves in with the flock. I thought this book was hilarious until I got chickens and ducks, and my oldest son decided he was part chicken. Of all the difficulties there could be with having a small front yard farm, I hadn’t really expected that one.
On the one hand, it’s kind of cute. When he was in the third grade his teacher, Mr. Burns, had his class writing stories. Owen wrote about the chickens. Our rooster, Pops, was always riding to the rescue of Owen’s favorite, Lily, on the back of one of the Jersey Giants. Lily was always getting captured by an evil dragon and locked up in a dungeon. The other hens, Petunia and Daisy, were Pops’ sidekicks, and his best soldiers against evil doers who were lined up to try and take over the world. When Owen isn’t writing about the chickens, he likes to go outside and see what they are up to. He will hang out in the chicken yard while they peck around his feet, looking for treats. I find it pretty nice, because it means there is someone else in the family to help make sure they have food, notice if one of the birds looks sick, and gather eggs. Owen says he wants to be a chicken farmer when he grows up, or maybe an ornithologist.
The problem is, Owen will occasionally act like a chicken. I will be talking to him, and he will cant his head to the side like Pops does. He will also crow occasionally, and run around flapping his arms. I thought he just acted that way at home, but one of his classmates has nicknamed him Chicken Boy. A friend came over to play, and the first thing Owen did was take him to the coop. I heard his friend exclaim, “What is it with you?! It’s always chickens, chickens, chickens!” Owen just laughed. One time Owen asked me what we were having for dinner, and I told him chicken tacos. He looked at me and said, “I’m part chicken. I can’t eat that.” I reminded him chickens are omnivores, and occasionally cannibalistic. They aren’t too picky about eating other chickens, and would probably love it in a taco. While I could tell he wasn’t convinced, he still ate all his dinner.
I shouldn’t complain. I’m glad he finds the chickens as much fun to be around as I do. They aren’t our pets, but they are an important part of our life. Besides, it’s not like my younger son who says he is an Orc.