In one of the more delightful developments of this holiday season, my boss (and close friend) bought me a Chicken Farmer Barbie for Christmas.
On a related note, I also received a screaming goat (toy, not the actual mammal) a Dammit Doll, and a pile of fake mice, so not to brag, but I’m totally winning at the office holiday gift game.
But…a Chicken Farmer Barbie! Was this actually a thing? Was there actually a Barbie who could do more than collect shoes and drive around her Malibu neighborhood in a plastic pink convertible? Was there Barbie that worked? And that didn’t just work a standard, glamorous, fashion-magazine-editor office job in some Manhattan skyscraper, but who actually shoveled chicken poo, hauled chicken feed, and chased off mangy coyotes? Her box advertised in yellow highlights, You can be anything. Sure, I could, but could Barbie?
I had to find out.
I took Barbie home, popped her out of her box, and sat her down for a chat. Over a beer, naturally, because if you can’t handle a beer as a chicken farmer, I’m packaging you right back up and sending you back home to your prissy, Chablis-drinking, Barbie-mansion life.
“So,” I began. “You’re a chicken farmer.”
Barbie promptly fell over.
I wasn’t sure if this was an ominous or fortuitous start. Fortuitous, because she obviously liked her beer. Or ominous, because she clearly couldn’t hold it. I sighed, righted her, and decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. Since she only weighed 3 ounces, and I had just poured her sixteen ounces of imperial stout, it seemed a fair thing to do.
“You don’t look much like a chicken farmer,” I continued, eyeing her cutsie, pink tank top and daisy duke shorts. “Nobody dresses like that to farm.”
Barbie cocked an eyebrow, whipped out her phone, and scrolled straight through Instagram until she landed on what she was looking for. She tossed the phone at me nonchalantly.
“WHERE DID YOU FIND THIS??”
Barbie rolled her eyes.
“Okay, fine. I posted it on Instagram. But that’s not a fair comparison. This was after a long day at work, then a second job teaching a fitness class, and then I still had to come home and take care of the chickens. Your box doesn’t say, ‘Overworked Barbie With Three Jobs Who Farms Chickens!’ You ONLY have to farm chickens. And in questionable clothing at that!” I huffed indignantly.
Barbie slipped her phone back in the pocket of her daisy dukes and took another sip of beer. She immediately fell into her pint glass. I pulled her out and shook her off, wondering if maybe she did have a bit of a drinking problem.
“I know how we’ll settle this,” I told her. “We’re going farming.”
Barbie didn’t answer. I wasn’t sure if she was giving me the cold shoulder, or was just stone-cold drunk. I got out my phone and texted my pastured poultry farmer friend.
I just got a Chicken Farmer Barbie for Christmas, I sent her. I want to bring her over to the farm to do chores.
Seemed a perfectly reasonable request to come from a 40-something, mature, professional, adult.
Bahahahaha! Was the response. Heck yeah, bring Barbie.
I have a very high caliber of farmer friends.
I threw on my jeans, work boots, and a fleece and gathered gloves, a water bottle, and, naturally, more beer. Barbie stared blankly, then threw an egg basket with a plastic chicken in it over her arm.
“Uh, Barbie…there’s a few thousand chickens where we’re going. Why are you bringing your fake plastic one?”
Barbie glared at me and flipped me the bird.
“Oh. Haha. I get it. You just flipped me the bird, while holding a bird. Clever. Fine, suit yourself.” I grabbed her and chucked her in a beer glass, since that’s where she seemed happiest anyway, and we headed out.
We rolled into the farm in the late afternoon. The girls were all out doing their pastured poultry thing. Barbie seemed a little unnerved.
“What?” I asked. “Never seen real chickens before? I thought you were a farmer.” To be fair, I also wouldn’t be super pysched to find thousands of feathered dinosaurs twice my height scratching around ready to peck at my perfectly made-up little eyeballs, but then, I didn’t prance around in a hot pink box that advertised me as a chicken farmer when I wasn’t even a foot tall.
Barbie shot me a dirty look and jumped to the ground. A broody hen immediately tried to eat her arm.
I sighed, rescued Barbie once again, and packed her off to the main coop with instructions to collect eggs, spread bedding, and check their water. I figured that should keep her busy long enough for my real farmer friend and I to knock back a beer and catch up. Things went well for ten minutes or so, and then I heard an ear-piercing scream. I reluctantly sat my drink down and went to investigate.
“Oh, seriously, Barbie? Gah!” I covered my eyes with my hands. “Why did you wear those shorts?? Argh! Now I can never unsee that!”
I plucked Barbie from the eggs and moved her to the safety of the roost. I was getting annoyed.
“Listen, lady. So far, I have rescued you from a beer, a broody hen, and a five gallon bucket. You’ve almost lost an arm and mooned an entire coop of birds, but you’ve done very little work. I expect more out of you. You’re now on poop duty.” I handed her a manure fork.
She was not amused.
“Fine,” I said, testily. “So the fork’s a little big. You know what? Why don’t you just take a break. The real farmer and I will finish up.”
Barbie huffed out of the coop and sat by a grain bin. Bad things happened, there. Horrible things.
Barbie stood up, shook herself off, and ran for the truck.
“Barbie! Barbie, I’m sorry, I…” I doubled over laughing, then then caught my breath and followed.
“Barbie, really…let’s try all of this again. I’m sure you’re a good farmer. And that bird didn’t mean any harm. It just…mistook your…cheeks…for lunch.”
She wouldn’t look at me. I think she would have run me over, but luckily, she couldn’t reach the pedals. Or the steering wheel, for that matter.
“Listen, Barbie. For real. I know someone you need to meet. Sasha the chicken. She’s right up your alley.”
Barbie eyed me skeptically, but slid out of the truck. Back in the lower coop, Sasha greeted us with her carefully styled Polish hen floof. She pecked at the ground. Barbie flinched, but Sasha was polite, not pecking at Barbie’s eyeballs, arm or bum.
“Nice feathers,” Barbie said tentatively. “But it looks like you have a hard time seeing anything.”
Sasha looked around, confused.
“Here, Let me help you with that,” Barbie said, whipping another rubber band out of her pocket and tying up Sasha’s floof in one fell swoop.
“Better,” Barbie said.
Sasha ate a bug. They looked at each other amicably and wandered off to take selfies with the alpacas.
I plunked myself down on the tailgate of the truck with my farmer friend and took a big sip of my long-neglected beer.
“So, how’d it go?” the farmer asked.
“Nobody farms in daisy dukes,” I said. “Plus, I mean think about it…the chicken turds are bigger than her head. Imagine trying to clean thousands of turds bigger than your head.”
“Gnarly,” said the farmer.
“Pretty gross,” I agreed. “Maybe we’ll give her another chance when she can find some Carhartts and a decent fleece.”
“Maybe she could just run the social media,” suggested the farmer.
“Probably a better idea,” I agreed. I clinked her glass and finished my beer. “Cheers,” I said. “You can be anything.”
“Damn straight,” said the farmer. “That’s why I’m a chicken farmer. Wanna help me shovel poop?”
We hopped off the truck, and headed for the coops.