Chickens Come Home To Roost

“Support beef, run over a chicken.”

Bumper stickers bearing that message were circulated years ago when poultry started infringing on beef consumption. Media mention isn’t given now, but most people like eating chicken in a variety of forms. Despite not being a member of that group, we’ve had our share of experiences with those fowl.

Latest encounter was when a customer came to pick up a horse, and a Shaver Red hen flew out the trailer door when he opened it to load his mount. Evidently, she’d been roosting and didn’t escape before they left home. We don’t have a wire chicken catcher, so an hour-long, three-person effort came up empty-handed in our hen-trapping attempts.

Mutt, the dog, didn’t have any
problem grabbing the hen for supper, when he was mistakenly turned loose. Like
somebody contended, “Why wouldn’t he nab her? He’s a bird dog.” Oddly, the next
day a co-worker notified us somebody wanted to give away six laying hens. We
called for our customer who’d lost his, but they were already gone.

First encounter with old hens over five decades ago wasn’t a good start. On a visit to grandpa’s farm, we were running after a Leghorn as a child’s game, and she stopped dead of a heat stroke. A couple Plymouth Rock hens on our ranch in the ’60s were
successful hatching eggs, so we had limited experience raising layers and  gathering their production.

A catalog store offered two dozen chicks to the person who brought in the largest egg, and we won. But, we gave our winnings to the farm wife who’d sold the 30-dozen eggs  to our grocery store, where we’d found the big one.

Roosters became part of the ranch when our daughter and son each got a Rhode Island Red from vo-ag class. A coyote ate the first, after easily catching the tame bird. Second cock was ornery, came up behind us as we kneeled painting a panel, pecked our shoulder, and, without thinking, we swung around with the brush and struck to his demise.

Odd as it might seem, we are chicken experts, or at least our record indicates such. We won the district FFA poultry judging contest four times and placed ninth at the state contest. Few people know how to cut up a chicken, though entire processing was
commonplace on farms three generations ago.

Only distantly involved in chicken butchering, we were the fastest chicken cutter in our grocery store. Often, we’d cut up four dozen fryers a day, some in less than a minute. Once, trying to show off speed, we whacked our index finger, leaving a permanent scar.

Chickens were used as a parable of warning in Job 34:10: “He makes us pay for exactly what we’ve done — no more, no less. Our chickens  always come home to roost. It’s impossible for God to do anything wicked, for Him to subvert justice.”