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News of Otsego County

danielle the amazing jumping chicken

BERKSON: The Jumping Chicken Of Otsego County
LETTER from TERRY BERKSON

The Jumping Chicken Of Otsego County

Terry Berkson, who has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College, lives on a farm outside Richfield Springs. His articles have appeared in New York magazine, the New York Daily News Sunday Magazine, Automobile and other publications.

Got a call the other day from my friend Charlie in Brooklyn. He said that he was thinking of getting a couple of chickens to keep in his apartment so that he could get really fresh eggs. I got on my high horse and asked, “What do you know about raising chickens?”

“I’m good with birds,” Charlie countered.

“Remember how I taught my parrot to stand on his head for money?”

It was true. I don’t know how he did it, but when he’d pull a dollar bill from his pocket and wave it in the air, Webster – that’s what he named the bird – would invariably hold onto the cage bars and stand on his head. Maybe the fact that Charlie’s an obsessive-compulsive provided the repetition needed to teach his pet such a trick.

I had just cleaned out the coop and warned Charlie that chickens were a lot messier than his little Webster. “Also,” I continued, “hens can be noisy. You ought to hear them scold me when I try to slip an egg out from under them.”

“They don’t crow like roosters,” Charlie said.

“No, but they argue over a spot in the laying box. Your neighbors would never stand for their clucking.”

“I guess you’re right,” my friend said of his shot-down idea.

I felt bad because Charlie is the biggest fan of eggs and chickens I know. I always bring him some on trips to Brooklyn and he invariably raves about how much better my free-range, naturally fed, browns are.

In response to his parrot story, I told him about a trick my favorite chicken, Danielle, does.

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