Flufforaptors: on having baby chickens

Baby chickens turned out to be fascinating, and I didn’t expect that.

Baby chickens in a box

Classic milling-around-before-we-do-something-insane baby chicken behavior.

Despite being on board with keeping chickens as part of a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle, I’ve always kind of viewed chickens as fairly dull farm animals. To be fair, I had spent very little time around flesh-and-blood chickens. That just changed. My partner and I have had baby chickens for nearly a week. We’ve spent much of this time suffering from something called Chicken Hypnosis, because that’s what we named it. Chicken hypnosis occurs when you try to do a thing, but are unable to because you walk by the chicken box and end up staring at their antics for twenty minutes.

After five days of Acute Recurrent Chicken Hypnosis, we’ve learned a few things about baby chickens.

Baby chickens are baby dinosaurs.

The idea that chickens are descended from dinosaurs is something I’ve heard people talk about a lot the last few years. Within a few hours of having chickens and watching how they move and function, my partner and I agreed. They are totally dinosaurs. He nicknamed them Fluffosauruses, because they are indeed adorable, fluffy, vicious little monsters. I like Flufforaptors, because they do kind of move like velociraptors.

Of course, this is all kind of dubious. We can watch the chickens and say that they move how dinosaurs move, but our idea of how dinosaurs move comes from Jurassic Park and various documentaries. And for all I know, they based their ideas on how dinosaurs move on the movements of living birds.

Baby chickens are fast.

Back to that velociraptor comparison. For some reason, I imagined that baby chicks would bounce around like fluffy little anime monsters. Maybe I didn’t actually know what chickens were before we got them. I didn’t even realize that I’d imagined them moving this way until I saw them dashing across their living area, tearing up the mulch behind them with their little talons. Once their wings started coming in, they began to use them for extra bursts of speed. Which is so cool to watch.

Baby chickens do not give a shit that you named them.

Or at least that you named the three of them you can tell apart from the others. Maybe when they’re older, they’ll learn what their names are. Human babies take awhile to learn their names, after all. But I also think that chickens just don’t give a shit. You named us Suntop, Redbeak, and Chickotay*? That’s beneath us. We’re the scions of dinosaurkind, and we’d basically eat you if you weren’t three hundred times our size. Or something. We’re chickens. Counting isn’t our forte.

Baby chickens are a mosh pit.

The chickens sleep in a clump, something I’m told they’ll do until they’re older and learn to roost. At various times during the day, they nestle into clump formation and take what I can only assume are power naps. Other times, they’ll bundle together and just kind of mill around. Then one of them will jump into the group and disrupt the whole thing, and basically, it turns into a mosh pit.

awful baby chick illustration

It also does my vector graphics skills no justice. I want those five minutes of my life back.

Finally, this picture does baby chickens no justice.

They may have been little balls of golden fluff for the first couple days, but they still had cold reptile eyes and pointy little talons. Like many of my favorite creatures, both real and fictional, they are both cute and vicious. Chickens in a yard tend to eat bugs. At two days old, they ate** a bunch of ants I kidnapped for them from the garden. Any sort of cartoony illustration of Easter chicks is really just a caricature. Especially if there’s a bow involved.


*Speaking of Star Trek Voyager, chickens can live longer than Ocampa.
**Or at least brutally murdered.

Painting the way

Even though I enjoy exploring the woods beyond the beaten, dog shit-lined path, I like trail markers.

Maybe it’s simply the sight of a colorful splotch of paint on rough tree bark.

Maybe it’s the secret code aspect of trail sign, bits of twigs arranged in symbols and arrows, miniature rock cairns reassuring you that “this is the way.”

Maybe it’s because I’ve been a hiker my whole life.  I can remember all the way back to when I was three years old, running through the woods, ahead of the rest of my family, following the bright paints.  Because the trail markers showed me where to go, I could run from the hot sun to the relief of tree-shade and be safe, cool, and alone for a moment, until my family showed up.

Trail markers went with shade, rocks to climb on, and a canteen full of sun-warmed water.

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It’s weird, but I have a mild fear of becoming lost. Weird, because I’m good with directions, and have only been truly lost a couple times in my life.  If I’m driving somewhere and want to try a different route, I can usually wing it and end up in the right place.  Winging it does not include GPS, which is no fun.  It’s hand-holding, and on the inside, I’m still the kid who ran ahead of her parents.  Trail markers, maps, and compasses reassure me, but I can get by without them unless I’m in a totally new place.

I’ve been writing a children’s chapter book with the working title “Pumpkin Goblins.” The main character is a kid who’s having the worst Halloween ever, and I gave her my fear of getting lost. Only for her, it’s not a mild fear that crops up now and then.  It’s a big enough deal that she wears a compass around her neck at all times.  My own fear may be minor, but it made me curious.  I didn’t know why being lost scared me until I wrote most of “Pumpkin Goblins.”

Becoming lost is a loss of control.  And if you keep a tight enough hold on your map and compass, if you keep your trail markers in sight, maybe you never have to experience it.

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Lichen, not a trail marker at all. You’ve been had.

That’s a false hope.

 

Google maps glitch… or space-time distortion?

It might not be immediately obvious what’s wrong with this picture.

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A lone diner from the other side of the country.

The map is a portion of Clinton, MA. Note the address of Lou’s Diner.

Yeah!

At first glance, it looks like there’s some kind of glitch with Google Maps that caused a diner from Las Vegas to appear to be in a town north of Worcester, MA.

But…but…but… Google is infallible, right? Google doesn’t glitch. And its eventual planetary hegemony will be a good and benevolent time for the human race, won’t it?

Of course! Because of this, it is seems rational to entertain the possibility that there has actually been a space-time distortion, and a diner from Nevada now exists in Massachusetts. It raises a lot of questions.

Is Nevada now actually a part of Massachusetts? Is Massachusetts now some kind of geographical bag of holding (or pseudo-science-that’s-actually-magic term that means the same thing) that can contain oversized states from way out west*? How do Massachusetts gambling laws affect the State of Nevada now?

Furthermore, do I still want to stop by this place to grab a bite, knowing that the anomaly could cease and I could be snapped up and transported to Nevada, a place that I imagine as a vast desert crossed by a handful of infinite highways and a splotch of neon-lit gambling?

For someone with an extreme aversion to hot weather (like, over 70 F) and an overblown fear of snakes, the desert is easily the worst place in the world.

Would you dare enter such a diner, knowing the risks?

UPDATE: Driving through Clinton, MA the day after I wrote this post, my partner and I did not see any sign of Lou’s Diner. While it’s possible that we were distracted by talking about the Wachusett Reservoir, or Klingon language issues, it seems just as likely that Lou’s Diner has been returned to Nevada where it belongs.


*I use the term “way out west” to signify the western part of the United States. This is in contrast to the Massachusetts meaning, which may indicate any part of the state west of Worcester.