Saturday, March 8, 2008


My husband and I have had our share of disagreements through the years, so it’s a bit of a relief when we find something we agree on. We have concurred about where to raise our children, compromised on what kind of pizza to order, and found we share a favorable opinion about chickens.

The problem with the latter topic is that we prefer chickens of different types. Shane enjoys his chickens running free on the range, pecking up bugs and decorating the sidewalks with manure.

I prefer my chickens lightly breaded and fried crisp next to a mound of mashed potatoes and gravy.

Where he has acquired his affection for chickens I’ll never know, but my husband has always enjoyed the animals. He built them a living facility which I facetiously refer to as the chicken condo, and they feasted on an all-you-can-eat buffet of scraps and grain every day.

One of the most distressing tragedies in our household was the day the chickens came up missing. Two were retrieved, but the rest were a tasty snack for the coulee’s resident fox.

After that, we restocked, and the children were in charge of counting the chickens each day to assure their safety. They fed, watered, and entertained the chickens in the morning, and in the evening they shut the door to the condo to keep out any predators.

I reminded myself that the responsibility is good for the kids when they came straggling in with chicken manure covering their jeans and shoes. Besides, the chickens gave the dog some entertainment and some practice when he wanted to brush up on his herding skills.

So long as I was not required to kill, pluck, or clean the beasts, I resolved live in peace with them, even though one particular chicken incident made me wonder why we couldn’t just have a goldfish instead.

The weather was beautifully cool, and the kids returned from their chicken chores to the yard without coming in the house first. I let them play, thinking I could finish the breakfast dishes and have a quiet moment or two before they came back in.

As I watched them out the window, I was counting my blessings that we live in the country where they are able to learn responsibility through chores and have acres to run in the summertime.

I went out to join them in the yard and was helping my youngest into a swing when my daughter said, “Here, Mommy. I’ll give you the eggs to take in.” I looked around for the egg carton, and when I looked back, she was pulling her hand out of her rear pocket.

“Uh oh, Mommy. I think it cracked.”

Trying to maintain my composure, I asked her where she put the eggs that she had collected.

“We forgot the carton, so Riley just told us to put them in our pockets,” she replied as she went down the slide for the third time.

By the time she reached the bottom of the slide, a yellow streak was following her from her jeans pocket. With a befuddled look, she put her hand to her backside and was disgusted to find that it was goopy and wet.

It was just as I had scraped the last of the shell out of the rear of her pants that I went cold with the realization that if her pockets were full of eggs, her siblings were likely toting eggs as well.

It was difficult not to think of the minimal price of eggs at the grocery store as I scrubbed jeans, dressed the children for the second time that morning, and washed chicken manure off the unbroken eggs.

But perhaps it was worth it for the comic relief, as I couldn’t keep a straight face when I tried to seriously remind the kids that before they go down the slide next time, they should check their pockets for eggs.

Since then, the predators have once again wiped out our chicken population. The chicken condo has been vacant for a year, and I have a reprieve from washing eggs and checking pockets.

Unfortunately, the resident
4-H president has a new project in mind for next year: Poultry, Level 1. I think I’m going to cry.


BoufMom9 said...

LOL Great story! My mom always enjoys telling myself & my siblings about her life on the farm with chickens. She, like you, was never fond of them.
I, however, have always wanted us to have chickens and hope to one day when we move from NJ.
If that day ever comes, i will think of you before sending the kids out to collect the egss. heehee

BoufMom9 said...

PS Wanted to tell you that I made your potato soup and it was so yummy! Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

When we moved to the country and got chickens, it became my daughter's job to collect eggs. she was about 7 or 8. One day she went up to the chicken pen and came screaming back without her flip flopps or the egg basket .'Mom...the nest is full of snakes'!!!She had thrown the basket down and ran plumb out of her shoes and sure enough ...there was a huge chicken snake in one of the nest's !! Needless to say ....she never wanted to collect eggs again...even tho my hubby killed the snake . Doris

Erin said...

Ack! As much as I dislike chickens, I dislike snakes even more. We do have snakes around here, but we've never found them in the chicken house.

I'm glad you enjoyed the soup! I was wondering if that recipe would work for anyone because I had never written it down before. Glad to hear it turned out okay.

Simple Family Supper lady said...

I'm always on the look out for snakes.... eewwww!
I love my chickens... my hubby humors me, he just doesn't seem to realize how wonderful they really are! I think that they are the funniest creatures! I often go MIA and my kids know to find me out with the chickens... they are a stress reliever!

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