Chickens never change

FOR MOST OF the first six years of my life I lived with chickens, thousands of chickens.

There were two enormous chicken houses, one on either side of Granny’s home, there in southwest Georgia where my parents hauled me shortly after birth, down from Atlanta. I recall those chicken houses as about the size of a football field, each of them, but I doubt they were that big. But they were huge. Believe me.

chickenNow you don’t want thousands of chickens — they were Rhode Island Reds for those of you who know chickens — living too close to where you eat and sleep. Chickens are noisy, vicious and their personal hygiene is nonexistent.

So they were off far enough, out there on one side in the grove of pecan trees and out on the other side in a pasture where cows grazed. The cows were Herefords for those of you who know cows.

Those two huge chicken houses could not have been cheap, and we were not rich, to put it mildly. The chicken farmer was my father, and I’m guessing he got a loan after the war ended, something like the G.I. Bill, which was for education. But he already had a degree before the war.

Perhaps there was another bill to construct chicken houses.

cowThe endeavor did not last more than four or five years. One night burglars ran off with a big chunk of those chickens. The number 500 sticks in my mind, but I could be wrong. I remember the sheriff in the kitchen the morning after, asking questions.

Never found the chickens, of course. They all look alike.

We had started out with 2,000 or so, and 500 left a sizable gap.

I don’t recall my father actually selling chickens. What I remember is selling eggs, lots and lots of eggs. We had little egg scales on which you place an egg to determine if it’s small, medium or large. I haven’t seen one of those scales in decades. It would be a nice conversation piece, or you could just weigh your eggs.

By the time I was 7 and entering the Second Grade, we were in Jacksonville, Florida, my father having given up on chickens and freelance writing to return to the newspaper business. However, those massive chicken houses remained on either side of my grandparents’ home for a long, long time, empty.

One day they vanished.

Years passed, and I never heard a chicken, which was okay by me. They are nasty, stupid critters, almost as dumb as bunnies. Being a former farm boy, I also — like chickens and cows — know rabbits.

Flash forward a good piece of time. I wake every morning now to the sound of chickens in the distance. There are barking dogs too and the occasional bray of burros, but it’s the chickens that stand out.

Chickens never change.

And they’re on their best behavior when fried.

14 thoughts on “Chickens never change”

  1. A friend is trying to get rid of one of her roos……free for the taking. Its crowing sounds like “errrrr maaaaaaa meeeeeee. Creeps her out.

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    1. Carole: Tell your friend to wring its neck and be done with it. Problem solved. It’s just one nasty bird. My granny would wring their necks with ease. Grab it by the head, one quick 360, and adiós, Berlin. Problem solved. Roosters don’t make the best eating, so just toss it into a ditch.

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      1. They also have a gander that escorts the chief roo around the barnyard and when he jumps a hen the goose raises holy hell to keep bystanders at bay. The gander and roo are BFFs.

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  2. Here’s an idea. You could use the bakery as a chicken coop until it is ready for its life as a cookie factory. Maybe I am having trouble with the subtext — you think?

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    1. Señor Cotton: Yes, the subtext is eluding you, whatever it might be. Speaking of the cookie factory, the carpenter promises to be here Tuesday to finish the area with a worktable and counters and shelves. It will be fabulous.

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  3. One gets to know rather more about chicken, generally, living in Mexico than in the USA. Even in DF I’d wake to the sound of roosters. And sleep to the sound of roosters. And lunch to the sound of roosters.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where it has been dead quiet today due to the current snowstorm.

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  4. I have wonderful memories growing up with chickens, turkeys, geese, 2 pigs, 2 burros! We were very poor. My mother bartered with everything. I don’t remember ever being hungry!

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    1. Elvira: I did grow up — well, at least the first six years — with chickens. There were cows and rabbits too, but never turkeys, geese or pigs. I would have loved to have a burro, but you don’t find many burros in southwest Georgia, then or now. I was not hungry, and I’m glad you were not either. Thanks for the feedback.

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  5. The true symbol of Mexico is not the eagle grabbing a snake. It is Señor Gallo, the rooster. Machoism reigns supreme.

    The new symbol of the USA is not the bald eagle.

    It is a gay hawk.

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    1. Andrés: You’re a funny fellow. I like that. But yes, machismo is alive and well in Mexico, and probably always will be. What often goes unmentioned is its flip side. While men bend far in one direction, the women go equally far into the other direction, extreme femininity, or at least what they see as extreme femininity. Unisex has few admirers here.

      Gay hawk indeed. Yes, the American culture becomes more ladylike by the day. The Barry Administration is a classic case.

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