Woody: Pink poultry dilemma

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Awhile back folks in Portland, Oregon swore they were seeing pink chickens. They didn't know whether to consult an optometrist or an ornithologist.
After some investigating, it turned out the chickens' owner had painted his poultry pink on purpose. He fed them pink Kool-Aid, pink food coloring and beet juice, and the coloring seeped into their feathers.

So that's how.

Next question: why?

He said he thought it would make people smile. Seems like a lot of trouble to go to, to get a chuckle over a chicken.
But apparently there's no law against dying a hen.

However, the owner was he was told his pullets couldn't get tattoos and nose (beak) rings to go with their flaming-pink feathers. Who do they think they are, Dennis Rodman?

Speaking of nose rings: Back on the farm, my grandpa used to clamp rings in the noses of his pigs to keep them from rooting out of the pen. The first time saw a young lady with a nose ring I assumed someone was trying to keep her from rooting under the fence.

Now nose rings are as common as, well, the nose on your face. Rings are worn not only in noses, but also in lips, eyebrows, belly-buttons and -- I suspect -- several other places we don't need to go into.

If someone wants to wear a chicken bone in his nose and tattoo the lyrics to "Louie-Louie" on his forehead, that's fine with me. Although I'd prefer my airline pilot not do it.


Back to the pink chickens: I'm always attracted to chicken stories. We're birds of a feather, so to speak.

As a kid I'd visit my grandparents' farm where a giant rooster, Big Red, lived under the back porch. For some reason Big Red didn't like me. Every time I'd venture out, he would try to peck and flog me.

Finally I issued my grandpa an ultimatum: he had to choose between me and Big Red. The barnyard wasn't big enough for both of us.

On my next visit I noticed Big Red was nowhere to be seen. And grandma's chicken & dumplings were especially tasty at suppertime.

Later on, as a teenager, one of my summer jobs was catching chickens in giant commercial poultry houses. We'd go in at night, under cover of darkness, and snatch the snoozing birds off their perches.

The first dozen or so would go quietly then the alarm would start to spread: chicken-nappers! The rest of the poultry would panic, squawking and flapping and turning the hot, stuffy chicken coop into a din of dust, feathers and other effluvia given off by frightened chickens.

Snatching chickens was, as they say, a hard dollar. But it prepared me for later life. I became hen-pecked at an early age.

As far as the pink Portland poultry is concerned, I doubt they'll ever be snatched off their roost and transported to Colonel Sanders. They're celebrities.
They'll probably get booked on the Letterman show with Kim Kardashian. (Tonight's theme: "famous bird-brains.")

But fame is fleeting, and the chickens will discover that -- like the pink in their feathers -- it quickly fades. Until then, though, they have something to crow about.

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Larry Woody
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