Home > Trip > Dispatches > Local Dispatches > Local Dispatch #68

February 12, 2012: What’s in a Name?

One of the best parts about new animal ownership is giving the animal a name. This was Adam’s task, and it is also mine. In naming animals we (for good or bad) put their lives in a human context. Then we (for good or bad) watch as they attempt to live up to their names. This is why I take care in naming our animals.

Stubbi, Catchi, and Nimby all had names that fit with their respective characters. Stubbi had frost bitten toes, Catchi nearly became Chicken Catchitori, and Nimby (Not in my backyard) was a feisty representative of the no coal movement. And Henny Penny Palin’s name fits her. She’s a lithe red bird who moves quickly, without any apparent direction in mind.

After Nimby’s untimely death, Pete and I deliberated for a bit about taking on another chicken. As Pete so aptly said, another chicken wouldn’t be a replacement for Nimby, but rather, a

Alys and Snooki
Snooki is a chicken

companion for Henny Penny. I would have given our little red bird away, that is to a good home in which she might live out her days with a large flock—but it did not appear as though one was going to materialize. So, we elected to keep her. She’s been somewhat distressed since Nimby died – she’s been making sad chicken sounds.

My friend Anne Corinne Kell said that we could have one of her two young Jersey Giants. Catchi was a Jersey Giant and got along just fine with the other chickens, so I said I’d give this a try. Anne Corinne has many, many chickens and three roosters. She also has a very nice coop set up.

I stepped into the well-lit pen, looked around, and made an apt comparison. When I was a kid, my mother, father, and I went to get a puppy. The parents had just had a litter of English Setters. All evening, I played with what seemed like a sea of puppies. We later took Blue Bell home with us. Well, I was reminded of this when I saw all those chickens. I would have knelt down and watched the two birds, but I decided not to, for there was a very vigilant rooster on site.

Anne Corinne pointed to two black birds. I said that I’d take the smaller of the two. That’s me, I always go for the underchicken. Into a carrying crate the bird went, for the duration of the evening.

I drew a blank on the name. Usually, such things come to me a bit more quickly. As we were getting ready to leave, Steve Rubenstein suggested we name the bird Snooki. Seeing my blank expression, he said that this is the name of a character in a New Jersey based reality television show. Pete added that it’s the name of a blues singer. This seemed fitting to me. I later thought that either Steve is quick on his feet in such matters, or he’d been thinking about this.

We got home and put Snooki ‘s crate in the coop, leaving the door open, so that she’d have access to food and water. Henny Penny Palin was in the upper roost, sleeping.

I googled Snooki of reality television fame before going to bed. All I could find out was that the real Snooki and Jwow are moving into a firehouse in New Jersey. Also, the mayor of Hoboken would not let them film any episodes in that town. An aside, one of the central characters is Mike “The Situation.” If I were to get a rooster, for sure, this is what I’d name him.

I next googled Snooki of blues singing fame. He was born on September 15, 1921 and died on October 18, 2006. He was said to have pioneered the now common method of playing harmonica with a small mike in hand. However, he did not appear to utilize this method in his earliest recordings in the 40s and 50s. Snooki wrote many popular songs including Judgment Day, Crazy about my Baby, How’d you Learn to Shake it Like That?, and Shake my Hand.

I checked in on Snooki and Henny Penny Palin early this morning. I’m happy to report that both are getting along just fine. Henny Penny seems pleased to have a new buddy. I suspect that Nimby’s illness puzzled her and she’s relieved to again have a healthy mate.

Maybe in the spring, I will get a third chicken, for three’s a good number when it comes to fowl. They can keep one another warm, and also have the security of numbers.

I am still mourning the death of Nimby, for she was a really cool bird. But I’m also glad we got Snooki. This is an instance in which it’s best to look forward instead of backwards.

Next: 69. 2/14/12: Heart Person