"Yard birds: Original or Extra Crispy?" by: Jessica Shepard

   Last year, I was lucky enough to miss out on mom’s obsession with baby chicks.
   This year, unfortunately, she bought a dozen and got 12 free.
   I mean, sure, once they’re grown and clucking about the yard, they aren’t so bad.
   But, this bunch isn’t like the first she bought - these birds are twitchy.
   And by twitchy, I mean that they’re a bit more high-strung and freak out easily.
   Granted, if I had two big dogs and several cats staring at me in my cage, I, too,  would probably freak out and flap about.
   Matter of fact, I caught Domino, our rescue cat, sticking her paw in the cage and just beckoning a baby chick to its doom.
   Or to play; I’m actually not sure which one just yet.
   Mostly because Domino doesn’t have the distinct killer instincts I’ve seen our other cats display.
   Don’t get me wrong, she plays with the occasional stray bug or lizard, but, I’ve never seen her actually kill it outright.
   She pretty much plays with it until it escapes her or gets into a hiding spot and dies on its own.
   Max, the big black Labrador/Chow mix on the other hand, he has a history of killing and eating things as well as playing too roughly.
   I’m pretty sure he’s just watching those little fowls chirp and flap around and think of them as chicken nuggets with feathers.
   After all, this is the dog that eats fully grown chickens, possums, raccoons and has tried to get a skunk, but lost.
   Still, I’m not overly fond of the smell chickens make or the annoying chirping.
   Sometimes it will be dead quiet at night, except for the air conditioner and then one bird spooks the rest and they all wig out and scream for help.
   Something like that happened a week ago and we lost one chick when it got caught between the cage and some cardboard pieces we used to keep the cats out and the littlest birds from escaping.
   Another one landed on their dead comrade and I tried, unsuccessfully, to get the little brat up over the cardboard edge and into the pin shavings with her friend.
   No, it pecked me and chirped rather indignantly, as if I was doing something terrible to it.
   In the end I had to wake up mom at one in the morning to rescue it because I was giving up and didn’t have any patience left.
   It takes her all of two minutes to free the little chick and we bagged up the dead one.
   I still maintain that even if the eggs help offset some costs here at the house, the birds are annoying, smelly and I am not responsible for them.
   Mom wanted 24 noisy brats with wings-she can take care of them herself.
   I might eat my chicken nuggets in front of them and taunt them though.

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