A Visit to the Fruity Chicken

I spent the holidays with my family in Las Vegas. My brother Max is the author of the often mentioned Fruity Chicken. It’s his blog about raising chickens and fruit trees in Las Vegas. The virtual Fruity Chicken is located on WordPress, but the real one is located at the base of Sunrise Mountain on the outskirts of town. I thought I would use a post to show you around the nearly famous grounds.

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The photo above is the view from the house on the lot adjacent to the chicken pen. The truth is that the Fruity Chicken rests on an acre packed with potential and a house in the midst of a massive remodel. My first day in town Max offered to show me around the new digs. Of course I brought my camera.

I have spent the last year shooting wild birds to improve my ability to make quick decisions with my camera – to get better at catching the shot. A walk around the back of the lot put my practice to the test – I’m accustomed to shooting from my porch, here I was out in the open when I spotted some movement in the oleanders. The bars on the wings reminded me of a jay, but the coloring was all wrong, it was a vireo – only in town on its way to Mexico on its annual migration.

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He decided to some out of the oleanders and look me over.

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Back in the oleanders I spotted some movement and caught a couple of white crowned sparrows.

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We made our way over towards the chicken run when we came across some sentries – the roof pack – Oddy and Michone. They permitted us to pass.

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The Fruity Chicken is filled with lots of types of chickens. I’m fascinated with their eyes. I have no clue what kind these are, but I liked the looks they gave me.

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The Fruity Chicken has a few non-chicken residents as well – there are a small group of ducks as well – some with mohawks like this girl.

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I probably should have taken shots if the orchards or the houses, but I only have eyes for the birds.

You Don’t Eat Your Friends

When I was about 9 years old, my Pop took me with him to a BBQ at a small ranch on the outskirts of Las Vegas. To my delight he was convinced to buy a horse that a woman described only as “green broke”. He paid¬†$50 bucks sight unseen for my new best friend. Somewhere between the tall tales and the sheer volume of Budweiser, he completely forgot about his purchase. The next morning he was surprised by a phone call from the woman asking him to come pick up his horse. The beast was located about a half a mile from the small ranch where we had been the night before so we called the owner to ask what we should do about this little filly. She offered her boarding and training services – Aleda became a fixture of my life for the next several years.

In addition to horses, Aleda raised chickens, all kinds if chickens. Some had colorful plumage, some had big topknots, some were odd-shaped. Some she called her “Albert Einstein” chickens. One day my Pop asked which ones were the best to eat. Appalled, Aleda responded, “You don’t eat your friends!”

Ever since that day I have thought about chickens as pets. I’ve never owned one, but I’ve admired many. When I see the Tyson truck jammed full on the highway I feel a bit saddened. Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t eat your chickens, I’m just saying that they are some pretty amazing creatures. Their personalities are pretty distinctive. My brother Max writes an informative and earnest blog about his chickens – The Fruity Chicken. Through his eyes I have come to see the humor and majesty that these wonderful creatures posses.

Here are some shots of some chickens I have met recently:

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This is Gamer – she’s owned by my friend and bird art feeder source (The Norberta Philbrook Gallery) Raven. She says this is the smartest chicken in the yard. I saw her eating out of this watermelon rind like it was a bowl¬†– clearly a smart chick.

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This hen has amazing plumage and serious attitude. Raven says she’s at the top of the pecking order and it shows.

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She never drops the attitude while giving me the eye.

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I got a chance to go to the county fair last week and gaze upon some prize-winning chickens. My 99-year-old friend Mary Jane was with me and although she was unwilling to be photographed (I think she belongs to some uber secret chicken whispering society) she was able to get them to talk back to her.

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This guy was all about the profile – poser.

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This girl’s been inside too long – clearly looking for an opportunity for a jail break.

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This one was talking back to Mary Jane – “Holla!”

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This chicken was the most amazing of all – its “Kreskin-like” powers have enabled it to bend the bars of its prison to its own will, echoing the very shape of its piercing eyes.

Who could eat any of these characters? You don’t eat your friends.