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Hypnotize a Chicken: Dr. Phil's Got Nothing on Me!

Chicken ManForget Dr. Phil, I can hypnotize a chicken! So, myth be told, there is a legend chickens can be hypnotized. Riiiiiight!!! And I am the Duchess Of York.

First of all, who cares? Second of all, I need to try now, and third of all, WHY? Why can a chicken be hypnotized?

Ingredients needed for hypnotism – sounds very new-agey and weird, but you need stuff.

            1 – daughter
            1 – niece
            1 – camera
            5 – chickens
            1 – place to roll around on the ground laughing – where you won’t hurt the chickens that are in their trance.

My daughter and niece proceed to go into the backyard and round up the chickens. Once in hand, they flip them over on their back, rub their chest, place them on the ground, make a mark / gesture with your finger around their heads and viola! El Chickoni is in La La Land …

Serves: As many people as you can round up.

Hypnotized chickens

The remarks from the event goers are everything from hysteria to drooling. Statements like “NO WAY,” “WHY?” “How long will they lay there?” “Ewww they’re dirty now,” and “You’ve got to be kidding me?” flowed like my hair on a speedboat – ummm OK, flowed like water through a dam. This experiment turned into a circus, and once the Dancing Bears got there, we were set. It also got me thinking. WHY? Who discovered this? When? Is there some science to this? I know sharks, if tipped on their back are basically puppy dogs, so what of chickens on their backs? Are they feigning what they look like on a platter? Are their brains little valves, that if tipped one direction they lose motor control and all other functions? So, I began my quest to know. I talked about it on my blog I asked about on and began searching the annals of the web. What I found was shocking. There is very little in terms of straight up science, but a lot of historical references … so here goes.

In 1646, chicken hypnotizing was referenced in a book called Mirabile Experimentum de Imaginatione Gallinae by Athanasius Kircher. The web seems to parrot this regardless of the site you visit. Athanasius Kircher was a German Jesuit Priest and based on what I can ascertain his writings focused on a myriad of subjects – all of which I don’t understand. I am still working on the TV remote for Pete’s sake. At some point in his book he talks of hypnotizing chickens, and I can only surmise from his body of work and study that hypnotics, mysticism and other mind-gadgetry were studied. Further references indicate H.B. Gibson wrote about it in a book called Hypnosis – Its Nature and Therapeutic Uses and noted a record 3 hours and 47 minutes of chicken hypnosis. Seriously, who would have the patience to sit and time a chicken in this state without getting hungry and beginnning to imagine the little chicken with a little honey BBQ sauce on it? Someone did it, and I am sure the time ended because the chicken was eaten. So it probably wasn’t a fair test.

The overriding use for hypnotizing a chicken has been for terminating their life for meat, but that can’t be the only physiological reason. Regardless, people other than me have talked about this, so I feel a little off the back, and while the over-riding reason is to put them in a trance to off them, others have found it, as I have, to be unbelievably funny. And since it seems to do no physical harm, and chickens are such a novelty as a pet, this provides endless hours of fun!

I found a few other chicken hypnotizers:

  • Friedrich Nietzsche, renowned 19th-century German philosopher, in his book Thus Spoke Zarathustra used a philosophical metaphor referring to the hypnosis of the chicken. It is in Chapter 6, “The Pale Criminal”, and reads as follows: “The streak of chalk bewitcheth the hen; the stroke he struck bewitched his weak reason. Madness AFTER the deed, I call this.”
  • DC Comics hero The Vigilante hypnotizes a menacing rooster to protect himself and Stuff the Chinatown Kid, in the story “The Little Men who Were There” (Action Comics #69, 1944).
  • Werner Herzog’s 1974 film The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser features a scene in which a chicken is hypnotized by a line drawn by chalk.
  • Federico Fellini’s 1984 And the Ship Sails On features a scene in which a male opera singer hypnotises a chicken in the mess hall.
  • Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” includes the line “I’ve been hurting since I bought the gimmick/About something called love ... Well, that’s like hypnotizing chickens.”
  • Ernest Hemingway briefly describes the process in The Dangerous Summer, comparing it to the hypnotic effect of a bullfighters’ cape.
  • In E. Nesbit’s book The House of Arden an old woman says that she has left a chicken in this state.
  • Criss Angel in his show Criss Angel Mindfreak hypnotized a chicken as a magic trick in the episode “Burning Man.” I think someone needs to hypnotize this dude and send him to military school. He is a wing-nut.

Anywho… In The 1985 Old Farmer’s Alamanac, Linda Riggins has the following to say on hypnotized birds:

“A bird will stay hypnotized for a couple of seconds, minutes, or hours,” says White, although in her demonstrations they’re “out” for only minutes. Regardless of the method used, a sudden movement or loud noise will bring the chicken out of the hypnotic trance.

White adds, “Pheasants go out faster than any other bird. Wild pheasants are very nervous and high-strung, and usually very easy to hypnotize.” In her demonstrations, she is protective of pheasants, because after they come out of hypnosis, they are likely to hurt themselves unless they are carefully monitored. Noting that domestic birds are more difficult to hypnotize than wild ones, she suggests that one reason may be wild birds are using a survival skill when they submit to hypnosis.

White has reported the results of her experiments at several New Jersey science conferences and fairs. In one of her studies of 11 birds, the heart and respiration rates, when measured five minutes after hypnosis, were significantly lower than in the pre-hypnotic state. For example, in a Bantam White Cochin cock, the heart rate before hypnosis was 457 beats per minute and after hypnosis 372. The rates for this bird’s respiration were 22 and 20 breaths per minute, respectively. The temperatures of nine of these birds went down or were unchanged in the posthypnotic state.

Here’s to someone dropping me on my back, drawing a line on the ground and letting me lay there … just don’t eat me! Otherwise, the real science is probably buried in some obscure university’s laboratory file room, like my transcripts.

Chickens and Rats or Just Rats!

Chicken ManI have had rat problems off and on for the past 15 years that I’ve lived here. This year, the rat population seems to have exploded! It is purely anecdotal, but this is also the first year I’ve had chickens! These are not roof rats, but rather fruit rats ... much smaller, which in all candor, make them more difficult to catch. They are really too big to be caught in a smaller mouse trap and too small for the rat trap. Plus they seem to be Mensa Rats, because they are smarter than years past. Which makes them smarter than me. So, we are now in for a battle and a HUGE conundrum. So, let’s hit the launchpad.

Adorable ratI am by nature/up-bringing conservative, but I have have a strong bent towards proper stewardship of the our planet and balance between man and beast. Rats, for me, are the tipping point of environmental consciousness and militant insanity. And, now with the wonderful movie, glorifying the incredible humor, love and culinary abilities of rats in Ratatouille, killing them has become a little tougher. I see Remy in all of them.

I go to my local hardware store looking for rodent control . My mind races between the simplicity of a snap trap and devising new, yet invented, robot rodent killing machines. I have even jumped on Raytheon’s website in hopes they have a some military grade laser rat destroyer, maybe something they’ve used in Iraq ... hmmmm? Or maybe a mutant cat, that I can stuff into my crawl space and seal it up. Listen for the tussel and then coax the cat back down with some catnip. Anyway, my mind races between joy and guilt ... as I stand there I juggle “green/humane” option or utter mayhem. If you’ve seen Ratatouille you saw what the grandma (assuming she is a grandma) did to the ceiling of her house with the shotgun – yep that’s me.

With a nod to “green” I begin with sticky/glue traps. I put my finger on it to test and it is like a tractor beam. I can barely get my finger out of it. I nearly grab the trap with my other hand only to catch a glimpse of myself in the future, with both hands stuck together as I struggle to release myself from it, only to fail and die of starvation. Irony? I proceed to nail them to the tops of fences where I know these germ infested creatures are making their midnight dashes. I put out a scooch of peanut butter to draw them in, and with anticipation I go to sleep. I awaken with an extra jump in my step to see the peanut butter gone and no rat, nothing, not even a mark in the glue trap. Are you kidding me? I barely get away with my life, and these rats dance across it like it was a parquet floor.

Fine, let’s try this again. Repeat the same steps with more peanut butter, and push it into the glue a little deeper. Awaken the next morning and shame on me … peanut butter is gone and not a tarred rat in site. Honestly, how can they sell this stuff? If rats dance across it, how can Rat Glue Inc. or whoever it is … still be in business? You know, I think when stuff doesn’t work, most of us move on. You know, just “Oh well, it was only $4.99, it didn’t work,” and move on to Plan B. I think this is wrong … however, I didn’t complain.

I now elevate my quest to – snap traps and these stooooopid “plug-in” electronic emitters, which are suppose to attract them and then make them nuts and drive them away. I get two rat traps, which take super-human strength and dexterity to set and of course nerves of steel to take your hand away while the spring of death is “loaded.” Hoping beyond hope that that hook is making full contact with the clip. I put peanut butter on the trap – organic of course ... want to make sure their last meal is healthy, and plug in the emitters. Keep in mind the rats are in our crawlspace and are keeping my kids up and freaking them out (me too). They truly sound like they are acting out a scene from Bonanza with stagecoaches and horses galloping through the attic. Guns are firing and horses are snarling. I hear one yell, “Pa! Get Hoss!”

I set the traps and come out the next morning only to see the peanut eaten down to the clip and no rats. You’ve got to be kidding me! Are these “zero-point gravity” rats? I can’t breath on the trap without it springing, and these things are eating off it? Argh!

I leave well enough alone and decide to set the traps that evening. As I lay my head on the pillow I remember, “set the traps.” All snuggly, wuggly in bed, I get out, slip on some flip flops and a t-shirt, go to the kitchen to get the peanut butter. Walk out to the fence, stand on a log, where I pull the snap back, slip off the log and the snap gets my left index finger spot on the knuckle. I think my cursing scared the rats away that night. My knuckle swells up like a balloon.

I set the traps and again, the next morning bait is gone, and so are the rats. Let me explain something. These things are powerful and have been known to slice these rodents in half. I am thankful my finger did not suffer the same fate, but hang-on … “Idiot alert!” I tried to load this thing in flip flops while balancing on a pine log. Brilliant … utterly brilliant. I think my wife was hoping I would get caught!

Now, the internal struggle begins – these rats are not going away, not getting caught in the glue, not tripping the traps and not put-off by the Waste ‘O Money noise emitters. Noise emitters, letting out hypersonic sound to drive them away. Right, they are little plug-ins of the Rolling Stones and The Police … I am surprised there aren’t 1000 rats sitting on beach chairs and barbecueing garbage while holding up a lighter in my yard.

On top of all this, they have my entire family sleeping in different rooms because of the cacophony of noise they are making. I am beginning to become militant. This is where the eco-friendly, semi-pacifist leaves and the rat killing, camo-wearing mercenary appears.

I have had to resort to guns and poison ... and while I hate it! I know it works. I proceed to nail the poison to the tops of the fence so pets don’t get it. I would normally remove it in the morning so not to kill squirrels and birds, but I don’t have to, cause every piece of bait is gone! I repeat the process the next night – again, every piece of bait is gone. For five nights I do this and each morning all the poison is gone. I have rats, and not Weight-Watcher rats, I have “All You Can Eat, Heavy Footed Rats” Finally, on Saturday, I see a rat, which is “in process” of dieing. My biggest fear is unraveling in front of me ... I believe in instant death of these creatures, not a lingering death ... I know ... it is a rat, but ugh, I hate to see this. My Dad always said, “get it over with” when referring to homework or dinner or buffing is shoes ... So I applied adage to rat-extermination as well. As humanely as possible, I would kill it so to not have it suffer unduly.

The problem was; my pellet gun was out of pellets, and the rat was crawling up a drain pipe to safety – on my roof. I quickly grabbed the hose and stuffed in the other end of the drain pipe. The rat comes flying out of the other end trying to get air. He pops up and having run to Big 5 Sports for pellets and ready for him, I fire and it appears I’ve quickly accomplished my goal, yet the rat continues to crawl. Uh oh – I have a the Cyberdyne Model T-1000 on my hands and I am going to need to pump more rounds into this rat. I fire … fire … fire ... fire.... The rat keeps crawling and crawling. I am freaking.… My heart is raising and my imagination has run amuck, this rat is going to launch itself onto my throat and kill me! I scramble only to have my daughter tell me that each of pellets have fallen out of the end of the rifle. I was putting .171 into a .22. I knew it looked wrong, but tried anyway – I was not going to drive back to Big 5 to have a discussion over the caliber of pellets. The rat crawls in to the catch-basin and drowns. Good grief – this is how it ends? A slip and fall into water? There are still more in the crawl space.

More poison is going to get placed in the crawl space. The gun is getting put away, my head is hanging low – I am afraid if I lived in the time of my forefathers I would be living in the field, and the rats would live in the house.

Renting Chickens – Chooks!

Chicken ManWhat?

I was at a soccer game this weekend. Yes, two kids and both play soccer, and both are very good. Only one is playing right now, as she plays on a competitive team. The other is in the recreation league and 4 years younger than her sister, so her season begins in a month or so. Funny how you can have two kids from the same parents and “Bam!” one is an incredibly defensive player - goal preventer; and the other is showing signs of being an offensive goal making machine. Anywho... as we watched the game one of the parents was asking me about our chickens and asked, “Do you rent your chickens?” I replied “Exsqueeze me? Do I rent my chickens? You mean for birthday parties?” He replied as though I had a third eye in my forehead, “No, man, for cleaning up a yard.”

sussex chickenHuh? The chicken rental business? I can see it now, storefronts across the nation where people come to rent chickens, they drop a credit card down, a drivers license, credit check (why not humiliation at every turn is a part of life), fill out forms like buying a car... then the questions begin;

Do you have pets? What type? Has there ever been a complaint against your pet? Has it ever been in quarantine? (Mine has)
Suspicious neighbors?
Angry neighbors?
Hungry neighbors?
Is your yard fenced?
Are you a weirdo?
Do you believe in aliens?
Santa Claus? (actually OK in my book)
Leprechauns? (hit emergency button under counter and take evasive action)

If they pass this battery, then ask them what they need the chicken for – pest control, weed control, manure production, eggs ... dress-up or friendship (push customer out and locks doors) ... Then you lead them to Stall Number 49 and they pick up their chicken for rent. HOW COOL is this!? OK it is not cool, but compelling because, I guess people do this, and, in the same breath, the guy who asked me about it, suggested he borrow some for his yard. The spiders are running amuck! My goodness how this universe expands when you bring chickens into your life. I really was leading a humdrum life prior to chickening...not sure if this can be turned into a verb. My world has become clearer, more vivid, I see things in color now and thigns that used to be sad are happy. Well, I am only 10 minutes from Berkeley, CA and it might not be the “chickens.”

I decided to check this mystery rental business out and much to my chagrine, there is not much on this in United States, but there is quite a bit going on in Australia. Which begs the question, why not? By the way, I am sure there is someone doing this in the USA... they are just not as web-savvy as the Aussies. Indulge me and check out these sites, the only thing I can say is brilliant! By the way, this first site is incredible, I am jealous. Blogger needs to step up the template design cause the ones to choose from are stinko. This women has done a stellar job at her business and truly developed a well-rounded business model. You will see rates and models for possibly doing this in the USA. (This is hilarious on the home page it says “Rentachook is greener than Kermit’s Bum”) (This is another brilliant website. Again, the Aussie’s are pulling this together.)

This is fun stuff and it appears renting chickens is a doable business. Here in the USA, you will need to check with city ordinances to make sure you are not violating any rules. 1.) domestic animals – how many and are chickens on this list? 2.) It is a business. Can you run a business from your home, if so, get a permit. The last thing you need is a neighbor horning in on your life and stinking up the plan. Get your ducks in a row - or chickens and make sure you’ve done it right. Keep in mind, in the Bay Area politicians and local officials are making your neighbors out to be police dogs. If you are burning a fire on a spare the air day, neighbors are encourage to rat out neighbors. Likewise, we are in a drought and people are encourage to rat out neighbors who water their lawns too much. How gestapo is this? I really think most people are good and will do what is reasonable 99/100 of times. We can forgive the one.

Anyway, do your research on the local rules and do it right.

Here’s to renting out Chickens or Chooks!