Saturday, May 21, 2011

Meet the Critters: Beaker


Welcome to 7.6 Lbs of Awesome!  This story tells the tale of Mojo the dog, Beaker the bantam, and Murphie Bunn…the bun.  Of course, as the menagerie’s caretakers, Mama and Dadda play a fairly large part as well.  

Other minor characters, like Dorian Grey, Bella the Fail Dove, Bodhi the Burly, and Screamin’ Shaman will probably also make periodic appearances.  This blog will eventually become a web comic of sorts, but the initial introductory posts will be written in an illustrated blog format. 

In the beginning of…well, anything really…I suppose it’s never a bad idea to proceed with proper introductions, so here’s a little background info on everyone…we’ll begin our story with Beaker:

Beaker the Bantam

Beaker is a three year old white bearded silkie bantam hen. (How’s that for a string of adjectives?)

Silkie Bantams are of Asian origin and were referenced in the writings of Marco Polo.  They are the only species of chicken with five toes, and they have blue-black skin, blue-black beaks, and bright sky blue patches of skin around their ears.  They are extraordinarily docile (except towards bunnies and poodles, apparently), and they are extremely affectionate - and even cuddly - animals.

Mama has often said that she honestly believes chickens would rival dogs and cats in terms of household pet popularity if more people knew how wonderful they are.  (Mama’s a weird one.) 

Dadda has referred to Beaker on more than one occasion as the ‘Pomeranian of Birds’.

Honestly, however, his comparison is strikingly accurate.  Yes, Beaker is a chicken…but she’s not your average chicken.

Beaker looks like this:

To answer the question I’m almost certain you are asking, yes, she does have eyes, and yes, she can see….

....just not very well.

In addition to strongly resembling a Muppet, she actually sort of sounds like one, too. Granted, there’s the occasional loud and somewhat obnoxious ‘Chicken Alarm’ (an absurdly loud 'BOCK-bock-bock-Bah-GAWK-bock-bock-bock-Bah-GAWK)...but those vocalizations are few and far between.

And they’re typically directed at Murphie Bunn anyway.

The majority of her vocabulary consists of almost cat-like purring sounds and soft little noises that sound like ‘boop’.  For this reason, Mama frequently calls her ‘Little Boop’, ‘Bitty Boop’, and sometimes even ‘Itty Bitty Boop’…or some other ridiculous variation of the aforementioned phrases.

Regardless of the absurdity of Mama’s nicknames for her, they aren’t entirely off base.  Beaker really is quite small.  The majority of her apparent mass is, in fact, feathers…lots and lots of feathers. Beaker only weighs a little more than two pounds…feathers included. 

She has lived with Mama and Dadda since she was just a four week old baby chick. In August 2008, Mama and Dadda adopted little baby Beaker from a nice lady named Mary who had lots and lots of beautiful Silkie Bantam chickens. Mama had wanted a little pet hen for a very long time, Beaker was a very sweet little baby, and Mary was almost certain that Beaker was a girl.

Much to Mama's dismay, when Beaker was three or four months old she started to crow!  So, Mama and Dadda decided she must be a rooster.

....but then she laid an egg a few weeks later!

Beaker was confused in her youth.  It happens to the best of us, I suppose.  Perhaps she’s just a really butch hen.

Either way, it’s very difficult to determine a baby chick’s gender unless you’re a professional farmer or something.  Even Beaker herself couldn’t tell at first.  One thing was always certain, though—Beaker was one cute baby.

When Beaker first met Mama and Dadda, she looked like this: 

Who could resist a face like that?

Certainly not Mama…and that’s why Beaker is what she is today.

See, there’s something you should understand about Beaker.  Regardless of what Mama may say or believe, the truth is that the bird rules the roost.

For starters, the hen lives in the house.  She wears a custom made diaper, in blue, to match the color of the skin around her ears.  She is three years old, but she doesn’t have a single callous, because she’s spent her days strolling about on plush carpet in an air conditioned house, and occasionally on soft grass on very pleasant evenings.

She takes warm showers with herbal lavender cleanser. She sleeps in a fluffy plush pet bed, with a fleece baby blanket and her own stuffed animals.

Seriously, the bird has a teddy bear…as well as a stuffed dog, a little plush lamb, and a fuzzy little baby duck. It is the most absurd thing you have ever seen in your life. Honestly, Mama questions her own sanity sometimes.

But, Beaker doesn’t seem to mind. Why would she? She gets whatever she wants whenever she wants it, including all of the freeze dried mealworms her heart desires…on demand.

Beaker’s routine is very important to her.  She is not fond of any sort of variance whatsoever.  In the event that something contrary to Beaker’s expectations does happen, the world will hear ALL about it, at least until Mama scoops her up for a comforting cuddle.

Beaker has trained Mama well.

She likes to ‘talk’ and Mama has learned her language.  Mama has also learned that ‘shoulder time’ begins promptly at sundown.  When Beaker is ready (things are always on her terms, of course) she will stand at Mama’s feet until Mama picks her up for a cuddle. Beaker then climbs up onto Mama’s shoulder, and the two of them watch television together.

It’s completely absurd, isn’t it? 

In Beaker’s defense, however, it must be said that (although she is entirely spoiled) she does contribute significantly to the household, mostly by maintaining a constant vigil and protecting the house from all intruding insects. She’s faster than she looks (when she wants to be), and she is frequently seen to snatch flying moths out of the air.

It’s a beautiful, symbiotic relationship, really:  Beaker gets fresh snacks; Mama and Dadda get free pest control.
Beaker is the perfect pet, actually - despite her prima donna tendencies. She has never destroyed anything, she comes when she’s called, she’s affectionate (but not clingy), she doesn’t peck or bite (at least not people)...and she’s quite unobtrusive. long as she gets what she wants when she wants it.

She is a kind, beneficent master. Provided her routine is never disrupted, everything happens on her terms, and there are never any surprises in her life whatsoever, Beaker is a content and happy hen.

Up next, Mojo the Pound Puppy Poodle…

What's it like to have a pet chicken? Mama shares the pros and cons and answers some commonly asked questions:!/note.php?note_id=142122565866151

Want to see photos of Beaker? You can! Click here:


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