In honor of National Ag Week, I am sharing my own “memories of a former kid” growing up on a rural Nobles County family farm. Check back each day this week for some of my most memorable experiences of farm life.
When, or if, I decide to return to farm life, I think I’d like to have a flock of chickens.
I’d get some of those Buff Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds and Silver Laced Wyandottes – anything but the plain white variety, those silly chickens with feathers on the top of their heads or the Turkens that don’t have feathers on their necks.
I like chickens, but there was a time – years ago, when they didn’t like me.
My folks used to sell farm fresh eggs when I was young. We had a sign posted at the end of the driveway, and Mom would send one of us kids out to pick eggs if there weren’t enough in the large cooler to fill a customer’s order.
Picking eggs was fun – it was like a game of hide and seek for a 5-year-old. That was if the hen laid her egg in a nest and then went off to enjoy the great outdoors.
The task was much more difficult when the hen was sitting on her eggs.
One day, while I was waiting for the school van to take me to Kindergarten, my mom needed me to pick some eggs for a customer. It was one of those spring days when about half a dozen of the hens were sitting on their nests – and they were in a fighting mood.
I tried to do as Mom had shown me many times before – move my hand slowly toward the nest, gently reach under the hen and scoop the eggs out.
Why is it that following directions is never as easy as it sounds?
My hand would get almost inside the metal box when the hen would squawk and try to peck at me with her sharp beak. I guess you could say I was a chicken (no pun intended) – I didn’t want to get hurt!
For this reason, it took me a long time to get the eggs picked. Usually, mom would show up as the tears streamed down my face and I pouted, “I can’t do it Mom – they’re mean to me!”
Sure, I felt bad about not being able to pick the eggs, but I felt even worse when I managed to slip my hand under the hen, draw the egg out and then get pecked by the mean old bird as I pulled my hand toward the basket.
When that happened, I usually dropped the egg, it hit the wooden roosting bar in front of the nest and broke into a puddle of yoke, egg white and bits of brown or green egg shell. There went the day’s profit!
Yeah, I think I would like to raise chickens again some day … I’m just not so sure about getting an egg-laying variety.