Hay’s Daze: Do you need the perfect pet?

Are you looking for the perfect pet? One that won’t make unwanted deposits in your flowerbeds or right in middle of your perfect lawn? One that won’t bark incessantly when someone comes to the door, or happens to stroll within 50 meters of your house? One that won’t use your nice new couch for a scratching post? Well, how about some chickens?

Now hold on, before you flip the page or flip me the proverbial bird, I’m not talking about just any old smelly cluckers. How about some cute wee chickens you can keep in a nice little pet box right inside your house. How about what they call the “world’s smallest chickens”? If you’re still with me on the chicken thing, you just might love a whole chattering of Rutin Chickens.

Rutin chickens are tiny little birds that are technically a cross between a quail and a partridge, and since whoever came up with the breed didn’t want to call them “quatridges” or “partrails” they called them “rutins”. Apparently, there is a flavonoid called rutin in their tiny little eggs. And not only is “flavonoid” an excellent word that you might call a person you don’t particularly like, but this particularly good flavonoid also has rutin which reduces blood pressure in humans who like to ingest flavonoids.

And, of course, rutin chickens are adorable, even if they are chickens. You could fit a couple of these colorful little gaffers right in the palm of your hand – and I mean a couple of full-grown adult chicken gaffers. A big boy will weigh in at about 50 grams – about the same as a slice of dense whole-grain bread. You can imagine how small the baby chicks are. (They are the size of a coin.) And their eggs? Let’s put it this way: it would take a huge basket full to make one miniature omelet. But the good news is these little rootin’ rutins can lay up to 300 eggs a year!

Now if you’re having a difficult time picturing an aquarium size open-faced box over by the window in the corner of your living room buzzing and bustling with tiny chickens rooting around constantly laying eggs and trying to fly (they can’t fly) let me assure you that way back when kids in school had to crawl under their desks during regular practice drills simulating a nuclear war, there was a store in our very own town that sold live baby chickens at Easter time. And not only that, the fluff ball chicks were dyed appropriately snazzy Easter colors like bright yellow, green and pink. The store was Woolworth’s on Gaetz Avenue and I’m not saying I’m old enough to have witnessed this scenario that today would give RSPCA a coronary (and rightly so) but my older sister Heather certainly is and certainly did.

My own personal memorable memory involving chickens is much less enchanting than little pink baby chicks and much more disturbing than purchasing a basket of live artificially colored nestlings at Easter. Mine involved my week-long summer visits to my uncle’s farm east of town. One summer I happened to be there during what was casually referred to as “doing chickens”. I had no idea what that meant and I was looking forward to helping my cousins “do chickens”. No doubt you know where this is going. Suffice to say, this city kid still has vivid poultry-related nightmares.

But wee rutin chickens are just too cute and tiny to be considered anything else than cute and tiny pets. And having the little beggars as beloved pets could do your heart well, literally and figuratively. Coz, hey, once a year you get to make one small omelet and get a healthy dose of flavonoid.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. Reach out to Harley with any thoughts or ideas at harleyhay1@hotmail.com.

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