Monday, October 10, 2011

October 10: Hypnotizing a Chicken

My friend Janet called to see if I wanted to come over and help her hypnotize a chicken. Someone had mentioned it to her, so she'd looked it up online and thought it sounded relatively easy. How could I resist?

It was such a warm day the chickens were huddled under an overturned garden cart for shade. We lured them out by feeding them soybeans fresh from the vine and admired their plumage in the fall sunshine. Janet has several varieties of laying hen: Araucanas with exquisite black-tipped gold feathers, some other gold type with mottled plumage like an exotic partridge, black-and-white checkered Barred Rocks, and a beautiful Brahma rooster with iridescent hackles just getting his crowing voice. The "girls" are only 4-1/2 months old, so have just begun laying, their little red combs an indication that they've just reached maturity. A chicken flock is fascinating to observe: the rooster struts around keeping an eye on his harem, the hens seem to focus solely on any potential source of food, tilting their heads to look up at you as if to ask where their soybeans are. There's a definite pecking order, too, with some hens not getting a bean even if we dropped it right in front of them. 

Then there's the bevy of pretty Barred Rocks being grown for meat. These girls are a little older and bigger than the laying set. Janet decided to catch one of them for our hypnotism attempt, rather than disturb one of her layers and potentially miss out on a precious egg.  

Step One: Catch a hen.

 Step Two: Hold the hen firmly but gently on the ground, and with a stick repeatedly draw a line in the dirt with the chicken's bill as the starting point.

Step Three: Let go of the hen to see if it worked.

This is one relaxed hen.
Janet did all the work, while I documented the process in photographs. I don't think either of us anticipated that she'd actually succeed, but as you can see, we ended up with one very calm hen for about 30 seconds. She just sat there sprawled on the ground in a sort of trance, until she suddenly came to, jumped up, and ran off. Unfortunately I couldn't photograph the ensuing chaos, as I was too busy helping to catch her again. She soon rejoined her flock seemingly unaffected by the experiment, more concerned about snagging more soybeans. Perhaps her moment of focused meditation gave her some brief (h)enlightenment, but we'll never know.

Mindfully focused,
the hen falls into a trance.
Chicken mind, calm mind.

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