Thursday, May 04, 2006

No one here but us chickens...



I'm writing a screenplay adaptation and it involves a Rooster who must save his barnyard from an evil attack. I don't want to say what the book is or anything, I don't own the rights and I don't want to jinx anything. So I get up early and start writing. I've had "issues" writing lately. That's putting it mildly. I haven't really been able to happily write anything aside from movie/CD reviews, blogs and Film Threat headlines for well over a year.

At first I'd make excuses. But even turning on my lap top (that's NOT attached to the internet to avoid time wasting) would become like...physcially painful. Very weird. But I have a great screenwriting class with my favorite screenwriting teacher and a FAT deadline of the entire thing needing to be DONE by next Wednesday so, low and behold, I'm writing. That's not to say I don't try and wriggle out of it by washing dishes, putting away clothes, playing guitar or talking to myself.

This morning my story hit a snag as the main rooster has knocked up his hen. I needed to know how long the birthing process is for chickens. I quickly got online and googled "chicken gestation period." It said "21-25 days." O.K., cool. But wait. Does that mean 21-25 days between sex and birth? Is it like, 7 days from sex that the eggs are laid then 2 weeks until we have cute little chicks?? It didn't make sense. And, I could see myself trying to use it as an excuse to blow off my last hour of writing to "do research" online so I opted to call my in-laws.

They have alot of animals but they couldn't answer my question. No problem, I'll call the local feed store. I call and get a girl on the line who says, "oh...chickens have a gestation period of 21-25 days." Well, I knew that...duh. Then it gets tricky because talking about animal sex with a stranger over the phone is awkward at best. I say, "Well...like....when the chickens...the rooster and the hen....when they like....do it....does it take 7 days for an egg to form inside the chicken and then 2 weeks for it to hatch or....what?" The girl on the phone didn't know and to me, it was sounding like a prank call. I quickly resorted to self-promotion. "See, I'm writing a screenplay about chickens and stuff and I need to know." Yeah, that made me feel better. Luckily, the girl said "Hang ona sec, I'll get Charlotte. She knows everything." Great. Now I get to explain it all again.

So Charlotte gets on the line and I decide to get right to the point since this is all becoming, what feels like to me, a huge distraction to keep from writing. "Hi, Charlotte. My name is Don and I'm writing a story about chickens and I need to know how long their gestation period is."

Charlotte:
A chickens gestation peroid is 21-25 days.
Me: (Sigh)
Right. But what does that mean? Is that like, from the time the egg comes out or from the time they have sex until the time the egg hatches?
Charlotte:
Well, chickens don't set until all the eggs are birthed. They wait.
Me:
Wait, what's set mean?
Charlotte:
It means they don't sit on the eggs until they're all out.

Note: What this has to do with my original quesion is beyond me...

Me:
O.K...cool. So when the eggs are all out of the hen and she sets on them, how long do they take to hatch?
Charlotte:
That depends. They don't all hatch at once.
Me:
O.K...right. So...once the hen and rooster...you know....have sex. How long until the eggs come out and then, how long until they hatch.
Charlotte:
Well, like I said...they don't start setting until they're all out.

At this point, I had been on the phone 5 minutes and just wasn't being clear or wasn't being understood. So, I did what I always do in those situations. Acted like it made sense.
Me:
Ohhhhh! O.K., I see. Thanks so much, you were really helpfull!
Charlotte:
Oh, no problem!

2 comments:

Ted L Glines said...

There you are over there, and here I am in east Texas, two "great minds" pondering the same cackling question! It is very rural here in east Texas, but, believe it or not, these farmers do not have a clue. But, I grew up on a farm where we sold cut-up chicken fryers and eggs. Today's fresh-laid eggs were gathered, candled, boxed, and immediately went to market. When the egg was candled, the "chicken" was only a tiny blurry dot on the edge of the yolk. Can we guess that the egg does not become as large as it is - in only two or three days? I would not be surprised if the time from fertilization to egg-laying was easily ten days. Maybe longer. Using the 21-25 numbers, that would only leave 11-15 days for development from "dot" to chicken during incubation. If you find out anything concrete, would you let me know at [condorprotector@gmail.com]? I'm only writing a poem, not a screenplay, but I have the same need to know. Thanks.
Ted L Glines

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know. It is 21-25 days from the time the eggs go into the incubator or the hen starts to sit on the eggs. They kind of time themselves to hatch at the same time, although hatching can take up to two days from beginning to end