Monday, July 11, 2011


One of my favorite movies of all time is The Music Man starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones. I could probably sing you every song line by line (but that is another issue and a need for possible therapy). One of the songs is called "Pickalittle (Talk-a-Little)"...which I have embedded from YouTube. The song is meant to compare the gossipy habits of some women to a flock of chickens. Pretty accurate portrayal in my opinion.

Despite my fondness for Sushi and Pedicures I am not the city girl I sometimes portray. I know it must seem as if I sit in my 2nd Floor Apartment thinking that chickens do in fact come from a chicken growing weed in Alabama somewhere. Sorry to burst your Bubble. I grew up in the Cun-Tree.

My Dad has always been somewhat of what my Mom likes to call a Hobby Farmer. His obsession with Farm Life has been varying through the years. He is also a minister and has a Master's in Bible Languages, but that is neither here nor there. I have yet to see a connection between being able to translate Ancient Hebrew and growing watermelons, but I'm sure it helps. 

Anyhoo. Dad was born on a farm and would have lived happily on that little farm in Anderson, Missouri for years to come had not his mother passed away when he was only 8. My Grandpa moved most of the family to the San Fransisco, Bay area....where I don't think they kept any chickens.

Fast Forward to my childhood and you find us living in the woods in North Central Arkansas with a variety of Farm Animals, Pets and Vegetable Gardens.  I spent many a summer afternoon weeding a garden, plucking a chicken (oh yes I did!), feeding a pig or three and chasing the goat out of the house.  In fact, it became a common occurrence for my Dad to come home from the Sale Barn with a new addition to his Barnyard Buddies. I even wrote about one of our Pigs. You can read about it here. It was a sad day for my Dad when we moved to Missouri to a real neighborhood in a town so he could start his Master's program. I was thrilled. No more chicken poo.

When my parent's bought their current farm several years ago they immediately began planning their chicken coop. I was not a fan. Here's the deal. Chickens aren't the brightest animals. And roosters can be pretty ornery. They can get pretty offended with you...I remember one holding a particular grudge against shoelaces. They also  poo. And plucking and gutting a chicken is not what dreams are made of. There is a reason that my favorite summer menu is new boiled potatoes, fresh sliced tomatoes, corn on the cob and watermelon...notice...Meatless! I was sure that I would be back to plucking chickens again and I really have become a fan of "pick up your chicken from the grocery store" method.

So. A few weeks ago I started hearing the chicken talk again. A brother of a guy from church had some pullets (young girl chickens) from a chicken farm. Could Dad get a place for them? So during our 4th of July weekend trip Troy and Dad went to pick up the chickens. You can imagine my horror when (after the guys took off in the truck) my mom sat down and told me my Dad was planning on tying the chickens legs with twine (he actually told her yarn would be fine) before sticking them in the back of his truck bed...which he had covered with chicken wire. Not generally the most effective way of transporting chickens. This is what years of education gets you. I wonder if chicken catching is talked about in the Ancient Greek.

My husband is a city boy. The closest he had been to a live chicken had been at the petting zoo. I sat for the next hour fully expecting to get a call that The Studly Muffin had been attacked by a mad chicken and I could expect to find my own ride back to Springfield. I needn't have worried. The Studly Muffin quickly adapted and became a chicken handling pro.  The chickens arrived thirsty and a little traumatized, but alive.

The chickens are now finding their place at the farm. Dad created a temporary cage for them so that they could get used to being in the great outdoors. The Big Black Dog Solomon has been pretty good with them. He does think they need to be on one side of the pen or the other. He likes to go herd them from time to time, but he seems fairly uninterested. And the chickens have already laid a few baby chicken eggs.

The temporary Chicken Coop. Notice the white laundry buckets holding down the tarp. We get Fancy in the Cun-Tree.

I took a book to the farm with us with weekend that I had found at the library. It's called The Backyard Homestead. Dad spent the weekend pouring over it. I wonder if Mom needs to call the area Sale Barns and warn them. I am drawing the line at Pigs. I will call  a Farm Animal Intervention.

Notice something different about these chickens? Their beaks are clipped. They were born in a chicken house and had their beaks clipped so they don't peck each other to death.

Chickens are kind of cute when you think about least they are cute when they are alive. Their clucking also makes me kind of nostalgic. As long as I don't think about the chicken poo I'm fine.

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