Post last updated: December 17th, 2017
I come from a long line of back yard chicken keepers as you can see from this ancient family photo. Unfortunately, chicken keeping ended with Momma. She had some pitiful story about running barefoot as a child and absolutely hating chicken poop squishing between her toes. Poppie has an equally pitiful story that prevents him from eating broccoli and cabbage. The bottom line on the chickens is that Momma won’t let me have any chickens on our property.
I have managed, all these years, to adapt to a non-chicken homestead because Mr. Beekeeper always kept chickens. Or at least I thought so. I walked over to his house, spoke to the dog named Chance, and left some containers on the porch. It seemed like a good idea while there to get my Chicken Fix so I wandered over to the chicken coop. There wasn’t a chicken in sight anywhere on Mr. Beekeeper’s property. This meant that our neighborhood comprised of 35 acres, more or less, was suffering from a sort of chicken prohibition.
Stunned, I rushed home and sent him an email. In the subject line I screamed, “WHERE ARE THE CHICKENS?” and in the body of the email, “For this to be a proper rural route, somebody in the neighborhood must have chickens and you were the self-designated chicken farmer. I just dropped off those containers I promised and saw nary a chicken. I’m upset. How am I going to get my chicken fix if yours have left the neighborhood?”
These days, everyone but me has a fancy phone so he replied about an hour later. “They will be back soon.”
Is that guy-speak or what? Five words! Explaining nothing and doing little to relieve my hysteria. Still, I tried to remain calm and apply logic. After all, where does a whole flock of chickens GO? So another email went out. “Did they go on a vacation or something?”
Another quick response by fancy phone: “They flew south for the winter, thanks for the containers.” His answer suggested finality and I didn’t press further. What he does with his chickens, whether or not it disqualifies my idea of a rural route or affects my ability to get a chicken fix, is simply none of my business.
I have my suspicions, though. If he has a deep freezer, those chickens might be at the bottom. No doubt the scrawniest chickens his freezer has ever seen. Fully half of them were a new crop of baby chicks brought into the world last spring by one of his hens. Even by late July, they were pitiful looking adolescents with a few tufts of neck fuzz and two or three feathers on bony wings. I remember because one of them was standing in the middle of the road and I had to park my car, climb out, and encourage him to move along. I even inquired as to why he was standing in the road. “Don’t you have any chicken friends? Why are you hanging out here all by yourself?” Being one of Mr. Beekeeper’s chickens, he was, of course, polite and whispered a response. I don’t know what the cluck he said, though, because I don’t speak the first word of chicken. And no, they don’t offer a chicken language class at the local community college.