Food: The Olympian chicken
I wish there was an Olympics for chickens because I have a contender. He has stamina, perseverance and daring, not to mention plenty of luck; a gold medal bird if there ever was one.
I don’t think a week passes by that someone doesn’t ask me about my chickens. I have to report that I don’t actually have any hens left after a thorough and severe fox invasion last fall. There were also a number of birds that were purposely “dispatched” for the pot; however, this particular rooster, Danny by name, has survived it all.
I knew he had Olympian blood at a young age when he took to flying up onto the house roof shortly after growing feathers. As I would sit in a lawn chair gazing up at him, he’d crow in loud defiance of his supremacy, daring one and all to challenge him.
However, his first true Olympian feat was to elude the ax in a death-defying, wing-flapping fit right before his scheduled demise. He was actually in hand, but one look at the chopping block sent him into a flurry of frenzied pecking, whereupon he was quickly let go. He took advantage of this opportunity by flying onto the barn roof where he set up a loud and persistent raucous clamor of displeasure and irritation.
I finally nabbed him a few days later and threw him in the coop in anticipation of the winter months coming on. Although my aim was to go through the winter with no birds to take care of, I figured there was a reason why Danny had persevered. In fact, I sort of admired him for it.
However, my admiration soon turned to annoyance when he repeatedly flew the coop. Even a wing clipping did not deter him and I figured it was just a matter of time before he would be dinner for the fox that periodically makes visits to my property.
As the fall months turned into winter, I wondered how this bird would handle it. Every chicken I have ever raised has hated the snow and would retire to the coop when the ground was white. However, even though I left the pen door open, Mr. Danny refused its confines.
When the first snow did come, the bird learned how to fly high into a white pine behind the barn for his nighttime repose. For a few weeks, I had no idea where he was going during the day until one morning I walked out my basement door to find him happily pecking the bare ground under my deck. He seemed perfectly content there, not having to deal with any snow between his toes.
I began leaving him piles of scraps, figuring that would sustain him, and all was well until the first big polar plunge hit. “There’s no way that bird is going to survive this,” I thought to myself as I watched him fly into his piney roost one night.
But every day since that first minus 20 thermometer reading he’s defiantly greeted the morning light with a series of undulating crows before he flies with a graceful arc to his private under deck suite.
He garnered even more of my admiration when, a few weeks ago, a fox boldly decided to check out my deck and trotted onto it like he owned it. He even looked into the house with an expression of “Oh, you’re home,” while Mr. Danny was hunkered down below him in quiet hiding and was never detected.
I’m thinking I’ve got a real champion here. I’m even toying with getting some nice hens this spring and letting Danny the Olympian reproduce himself. I mean, the survival rate of these birds would be phenomenal if they are as wily as their father, although I’m a little leery of having a bunch of chickens strolling on top of my roof. But I guess that’s the price you pay for raising a true Olympian. A small price to pay for a real champion.
Gold Medal Olympian Vegetable Dip
1 carton (8 oz.) spreadable chive and onion cream cheese
2 Tbs. mayonnaise
1 tsp. prepared mustard
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. horseradish sauce
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 to 2 Tbs. milk
Thoroughly mix together cheese and mayo. Mix in remaining ingredients. Serve with plenty of cut up vegetables like broccoli, carrots, celery and cauliflower for dipping.