Show Your Respect for Chickens

Just when you thought you were safe from celebrating things for a while, since the last Easter egg has been chopped up into your chef’s salad and all, here comes yet another holiday.

Yes, it’s true. Speaking of eggs, May 4 has been designated National Respect for Chickens Day. Don’t be chicken - check it out. Then celebrate, in whatever manner seems most appropriate for you.

But this one is too impotent - er- important, to skip over, and it’s rolling right along on Wednesday, May 4. As I see it, this celebration could go one of two ways:

You love those cuddly little birdies, so you take some extra grain out to their coop and gently smooth their cute little feathered heads. Casserole. (Of course the latter alternative is open to interpretation and personal preference. There’s always deep frying, roasting, baking, fricassee and the ever-popular barbecue.)

I suspect the idea behind the Respect for Chickens Day stems from the vegetarian – or worse – leanings of some well-meaning PETA-type folks from a big city, who never actually raised a chicken.

Well, I have. Chickens are many things: stupid, dirty, cannibalistic and disloyal. Just when you think you really like a particular one, it spurs your children. Roster the Rooster did, anyhow.

His life was promptly celebrated by our neighbors, Gordon and Ellie, to whom I gave him post-haste. They commemorated Roster à la Bullet Item No. 2 above. Or maybe it was à la king. I’m not sure and I don’t much care. At least his spurring days were over at our little place on the planet.

One Internet Web site claims that chickens are “cheerful, intelligent birds. The mother hen tenderly cares for her chicks, and roosters protect their families and flocks.”

Oh yeah. What breed of chickens would that be? One I never met.

The site encourages people to celebrate Respect for Chickens Day by doing an “action” for chickens on May 4 “to show the world that chickens are people too.”

They suggest that you:

Write a letter/op-ed to the editor (not a really great idea here in farm and ranch country, unless you want people to point and laugh at you). Get on a radio talk show (this could work if you are prepared to speak your piece). Set up a table at your local mall (that’s not going to work here. What mall? ). Arrange a library display/video presentation. Have a Respect for Chickens Day celebration at your school (and who’s on the lunch menu?) Distribute leaflets at a busy street corner or your local university (No busy corners in Cody’s off season, and, er, Cody University?) Have a “We-Don’t-Eat-Our-Feathered-Friends” vegan party. (Just don’t plan on a large crowd.) Show the movie, “Chicken Run.” Contact United Poultry Concerns, P.O. Box 150, Machipongo, Va 23405, for posters, brochures or videos (Machipongo? That explains a great deal, I’d say, about the right-headedness of these people). Not that I, as a journalist, have a position on Hug a Chicken Day. After all, have I revealed any bias in these lines? And in the interests of fairness, I must herewith present The Other Side.

Yes indeedy.

The other side of that chicken in the oven needs cooking, too.

Using two large cooking forks, turn the chicken right over in the pan. Brown until tender. Save the drippings for gravy – a good gravy can be whipped up with some corn starch, a little crumbled chicken bullion and some water. Stir to thicken. Serve with tossed salad, mashed potatoes and green beans.

And a great deal of respect. After all, just look what that chicken gave up for your dinner.