We have a hen that thinks she’s a rooster. She’s a bit of a loner but holds her own in the pecking order.
Sappho is a handsome hen, a Rhode Island Red/Ostralop cross. She figures she’s next in line for the top job. Chester the Molester, our regular eight-year-old alarm clock, has started to sound a little bagged lately.
I wonder if Sappho will begin to pin down the other hens, grab the back of their roughs, hop on and start rubbing vents. In the world of chicken sex, both females and males have vents.
The other hens won’t even notice the regime change. I’m sure she’ll be as much a gentleman about it as old Chester. Despite his nickname, he’s been a great bird.
Unlike some over-jizzed young rooster, he doesn’t hassle the girls. Chester always finds then offers the juiciest bugs, worms and occasional baby snake to his hungry flock. When an eagle or hawk swoops into the valley he screams bloody terror. That’s his way of protecting them.
When Chester says “move!” those hens trade in their slow pecking waddle for a wild, panic-induced run, flapping and screaming all the way home.
Sappho has some pretty big chicken feet to fill. First, she’s gotta practice her crowing—and preferably off hours. Every morning this week, before sun up, she starts. I groan and bury my head beneath the pillow.
An unwanted image of this lesbian chicken interrupts my early morning dreams. In it, I see her rock back and forth, puff up her crop and then let out some gawd-awful racket. She sounds more like a goat being squeezed to death than an egg-proud hen.
As much as I respect her for scratching to her own tune, at four thirty in the morning, I just wanna throw an old boot at her. Then I think, changing gender expectations can’t be easy—even for a chicken.
We moved to the country several years ago, naively believing we could escape the ills of the world. Raise chickens, plant a huge garden and stockpile food. We were even partially prepared against the threat of the economic collapse of Y2K. What we didn’t foresee however, was Colony Collapse Disorder.
Recently, billions of bees throughout North American have mysteriously vanished. What do they know that we don’t know? Scientists predict that without the bee species, humans can only survive up to four years. Enough time to grieve all our stupid, greedy mistakes and hope some remnants of the human experiment carry on.
The truth is, today, whether rich or poor, we’ve all eaten something that grew in the dirt. At some point, that something got some loving by a female bee. We could blame cell phones, Monsanto’s genetically modified plants, pesticides, hive transportation or over-breeding. In the end, we’re all suspect.
Like any immature Canadian, we hoped this was just another south of the border problem (when in doubt, blame Bush). But to be sure, we asked our neighborhood apiary his thoughts about the news reports. He shrugged it off as wives-tales, until he opened his own hives and found them all dead.
As a way of suppressing our fear, we’ve added a new sex toy to our collection. My man, Mark, has been playing with a fine squirrel-hair paintbrush. He expertly pollinates all our fruit trees. It’s a sight to see him delicately approach a flower, politely introduce himself, then start to wiggle his ass.
He erotically dusts the flower stamen all the while making a gentle, cooing, buzzing noise. I think he’s enjoying having sex with all our plants. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, he doesn’t have much juice left over for me, he’s too fucking tired role-playing Bee-man.
I guess Global Warming requires necessary sacrifices from us all. If I don’t get to chew on him, at least this fall I’ll eat the apple he fertilized.
Out of bee-envy, I looked up what I had forgotten from Grade 3 science class. What I relearned is that bees exist as a matriarchal society and have long been associated with female fertility. Like some Dom/Sub relationship, the Queen Bee sits on her honeycombed throne, mates with the male drones as necessary, and directs her girls to come and go, feed her and tend hive.
Amazingly, every hour she lays her own body weight in eggs. She gives and gives until she’s dead. While the Queen is often seen as the mother-lover of the hive, the bee species is such a complex social creature, that a colony can literally be viewed as a single organism. Individual bees operate as a cell of the larger organism; bees cannot survive on their own.
I wish, as humans, we could adopt the same view of ourselves. Nature, when respected, gives and takes in perfect balance. These days, it’s hard not to see humanity as the parasite.
According to the director of the Trudeau Centre for Peace drastic change is certain. Humanity Collapse Disorder (my term) is a near guarantee. From world economists to microbiologists, from terrorist experts to climate change-ologists, the dead-bodied messages of extinct birds and bees signal the warning of a catastrophic paradigm shift. We are indeed in need of many miracles.
So what’s my dream for a sustainable future? As we plant another year’s supply of beans and grains, paintbrush at the ready, I fantasize about a lesbian run world rising up out of the ashes. It’s more than my own disjointed way of saying the ‘old boys’ fucked up. Perhaps overgeneralized, but as my friend Michael says, “Lesbians have a can-do attitude.”
Like the birds and the bees, given half a chance, the dykes would get things right.
This summer we won’t bother hatching out another rooster. This year, I’m putting my egg money on Sappho to keep the flock together.