Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Lowly Chicken?

I do so love my chickens! I sat out in the back yard today to eat my lunch and it was just so pleasant to watch my girls doing their quiet things. They are pretty quiet chickens and also very gentle girls. Not too much struggling for pecking order or jostling over the best food.

That little buff chicken is my oldest chicken, Steve. We got Steve from our friend Donna. We think she must be a good
10 years old! She looks a little ragged right now as she is just finishing a molt.

Chickens in nature may live for five to eleven years, depending on the breed. In commercial intensive farming, a meat chicken generally lives only six weeks before slaughter. A free range or organic meat chicken will usually be slaughtered at about 14 weeks. Hens of special laying breeds may produce as many as 300 eggs a year. After 12 months, the hen's egg-laying ability starts to decline, and commercial laying hens are then slaughtered and used in baby foods, pet foods, pies and other processed foods.The world's oldest chicken, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, died of heart failure when she was 16 years old.
My chickens die of old age and I hope live a carefree, happy life. I worry a bit about how boring winter must be for them. If there is snow on the ground they don't like to go out so they can spend a long time in the coop around here in the winter!
People have been keeping chickens for a very long time!
Recent evidence suggests that domestication of the chicken was under way in Vietnam over 10,000 years ago. Until this discovery, conventional wisdom held that the chicken was domesticated in India. From India the domesticated fowl made its way to Persia. From the Persianized kingdom of Lydia in western Asia Minor, domestic fowl were imported to Greece perhaps as late as the fifth century BCE. Fowl had been known in Egypt since the 18th Dynasty, the "bird that lays every day" having come to Egypt, according to the annals of Tutmose III, as tribute from from the land between Syria and Shinar, that is Babylonia.

When I watch them cooling themselves in the shaded jungle of my back yard, I think they must be very "old". They are really good at what they do-a really successful animal. And a charming one. I try to catch one or two every day and make them sit on my lap for a little while. That way I can check their overall health-how their feet look and their feathers and how full their crops are.

This is One-eye, a very pretty lady!

We are planning to do a one skein knit along at Susan's Fiber in July. It is based on this pattern:
The Storm Cloud Shawlette by Hanna

Here are a couple of versions of this that I saw on Ravelry:

I knit one using just one skein of Koigu so it will be a fun one skein knit along I think! We can get together at the shop and we can also talk about it a post pictures on Ravelry!

Well, Talk to you later,

In ancient Greece, the chicken was not normally used for sacrifices, perhaps because it was still considered an exotic animal. Because of its valour, the cock is found as an attribute of Ares, Heracles, and Athena. The alleged last words of Socrates as he died from hemlock poisoning, as recounted by Plato, were "Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius; will you remember to pay the debt?", signifying that death was a cure for the illness of life.

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