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I was at a friend’s house recently admiring her flock of chickens. I just love chickens.
Amidst all the orange and black, the tan and blue, were three of the cutest black-and-white flecked birds — with feathers bursting from their heads. I couldn’t stop staring!
These birds look like can-can girls — I must have one! What … IS it?
“It’s called a Spritzhsuben,” said my friend — I’ll call her “Debbie.”
“A WHAT?!” I said, falling over in laughter into a pile of chicken dung. “A spritzenharken? Hahah! A spritledoodle? I (gasp) want (gasp) one!”
I grew up with a couple of Rhode Island reds and a few Plymouth Rock hens. Maybe a leghorn was in there for good measure. I guess I just assumed they were all named after areas back East, like Cleveland, or Intercourse, Pennsylvania.
A Spritzenhoofer? A Spritzenheimer?
Another friend I’ll call “Randy,” backed Debbie up, showing me his flock.
“Your black chicken is an australorpe,” he said.
“No way. A what? An astrodrop? An acropork? Megadork?”
“And that one’s a buff orpington,” he said pointing to one that appeared as if she’d just arrived on the ballroom floor with a sweeping gown.
A butt orpington? A buck orwelian?
“There’s a Barbu D’uccle,” Randy continued, pointing to a black-tailed, orange, white and black speckled bird.
“Barbecue da uncle?”
“No,” he said. “Ooh! That one’s a Golden Sexlink, and the one that just came out of the coop? That’s a cuckoo maran.”
A Golden Sexlink? A cuckoo moron? Who comes up with these names?!
Oh this is good. So I did a little research.
There’s a Dorking, a white bird with a moustache so big it’d put the 70s to shame. This bird needs to sign up for the Moustache March competition.
Naked neck: You need not thank me for the visual!
Frizzle! Ha! This looks like it exploded, with fluff and quills in all directions.
A Rumpless waterfowl! They don’t even show a photo of this bird, and I’m not sure I want to see. Next!
Scots Dumpy! Bwhaha!
Dong Tau — isn’t that No. 5 on the Chinese restaurant menu? It is? Oh. Never mind.
Westalischer Totleger! Royalty, no doubt.
Barbu du Grubbe! Barbecue your grub — of course!
My butt ophirton and astrodome hens are named Greta and Henrietta. I can’t wait to add a Spritzenhoopla-whatever.
But when I returned from vacation, Debbie told me a cougar got to one of the Spritzenhockle-heimers … birds. She wants one that’s left, of course, and the third has “a condition,” she said.
She could hardly contain her mirth.
His beak crosses itself, like crossed fingers. You have to trim it like a dog’s nail — and it has a quick in the center to make life exciting.
“I tried filing it with a file,” Debbie said. “That chicken was not happy about that.”
“How’d the uh, beak-clipping go, then?” I asked.
“Well, OK; a little blood, but the thing is, you have to do it every three or four months. In all my years of having chickens, I’d never even heard of it. I’m just not sure you want to take on another special-needs pet …”
Yeah. And this condition is called?
I shall name this chicken Edward Scissor Beak!
But no. I can’t. It’s going to be challenging enough. Greta? She’s transformed into a Garth. And Henrietta? Hank. Sigh.