How to Get Along With Obnoxious Poultry

 

Daddy was a nut about poultry.  He made regular patrols locally, and if he detected poultry, not in his collection, he couldn’t rest until he had one-upped whoever had put him in a “fowl mood. His enthusiasm didn’t last long enough to build a proper poultry yard, so the coyotes inevitably got whichever of the unfortunate creatures not roosting in the hen-house or trees.  He enthusiastically scouted out additions to his flock who served no function but grain-eating, making a lot of racket, and a free-range pooping.  Periodically, he would bring in a flock of guineas, boasting that they were excellent at letting him know if intruders were on the place.   Guinea fowl are typically smaller than chickens, eat just as much and lay small, thick-shelled speckled strong-tasting eggs. Their meat has a strong, somewhat unpleasant taste.  In addition to all this, at the first notice of a slight disturbance, they panic and go shrieking “pot-rack, pot-rack”, flying madly in all directions.  A slight disturbance is likely nothing more than a feather falling off a guinea hen standing nearby.  Having bragged about what excellent “watch dogs” they were, he’d tolerate the incessant racket and disturbance of the guineas better than the rest of us did.  I never felt bad when the coyotes snatched the last of the guineas.

Geese made an occasional appearance, remarkable for their noisy honking, arrogance, biting, and lifelong diarrhea.  Since we never ate nor plucked a goose, ours served absolutely no other purpose, other than giving up plenty of practice in guarding our backsides against their bites and teaching us the value of wiping our shoes.  Cool kids don’t show up at school with goose sh__ on their shoes. The coyotes liked geese, too.

Chickens were a given. They roosted in the chicken house at night to keep them safe from varmints, but they had the run of the place during the day.  They were pleasant to look at as they bobbed around the place, but weren’t interested in toilet training.  Most importantly, hens lay an egg a day a few months of the year.  They had a nice nesting box built high off the ground.  The prim and proper among them hopped up the little ladder, strolled along till they found their favorite nest, and deposited an egg. Afterward, they cackled out news of their accomplishment and hopped back down the ladder one hop at a time.  The renegades and slow learners stole away to hide a nest in the bushes.  Gathering eggs was a job for women and small children. Mother listened for these naughty girls and sent us scurrying to find their eggs.  It was very important not to take the “nest egg” or the hen would abandon the nest and steal away to hide her nest.  Hens weren’t too fussy about the nest egg being genuine and were perfectly satisfied with glass nest eggs, or an old white door knob, just so the handle pointed down.

We gathered eggs just before dark.  Should eggs be left in the nest after dark, chicken snakes were likely to steal them.  More than once I have reached in gather eggs and grabbed a scaly black snake instead of a warm fresh egg.  Once I was gratified to find a snake skeleton complete with a crushed glass egg resting inside.

In the spring, Mother would “set” her hens when she noticed hens acting “broody” or fussing around and feathering a nest.  Instead of gathering the broody hen’s eggs, she’d add a few eggs to the pile.  The hens never seemed bothered to see the increase.  They’d sit on the nest for about three weeks till the biddies hatched out.  She’d parade around proudly with her babies, fiercely protective.  Many a child, dog, or cat has lived to regret interfering with a mother hen’s babies.  They’d fly on an aggressor in a fury, flogging, spurring, and beating.  I learned early and well to respect Mother Hen.

My grandma loved her chickens and had personal relationships with them, naming each.  Her hens jumped on her shoulders when she went in the chicken yard.  She was not above pointing out to Mabel that Helen had laid a double-yoked egg, nor mentioning to them that if egg production didn’t pick up, a lazy chicken might get invited to Sunday dinner.  Grandma’s feelings for her hens got more personal as she got older, and she started retiring her hens instead of inviting them to Sunday dinner.  Grandpa raised peas to feed the chickens.  When he went into the chicken yard to toss them their peas, they fogged up to sit on his shoulders and on the top of his head.

Dogs loved eggs, too.  Should a dog be foolish enough to take up “egg-sucking” or “chicken-killing” his days on the farm were numbered.  When my grandpa’s dog got in and killed one of her precious layers, she tied the dead hen around his neck and made him wear it for several days, ridding him of his interest in chickens forever.

Once we had a Tom turkey, one of the most detestable creatures living.  He’d been given to Daddy by a deranged backwoodser who found him too evil for his tastes.  Naturally, Daddy grabbed him up and brought him straight home to us, leaving him to the care of his darling bride and tender children along with the rest of the rest of the barnyard creatures. Daddy enjoyed procuring creatures, not caring for them.  That’s what his family was for.  In theory, we only had to tolerate the turkey until Thanksgiving day, when Tom would be the centerpiece of our holiday table.  All we had to do was somehow survive until then.  At his previous home, he’d had a harem of turkey hens, till he got so mean he had to go. For a few days after his arrival, that devil had the run of our barnyard, terrorizing the other fowl.  Deprived of their gentling company, his testosterone exploded. They escaped into the tree branches, under the barn, into stalls, as soon as they’d hear him strutting and making his aggressive, scratchy mating sound, “Aruh! Aruh! Aruh!”  Turkeys don’t always say “Gobble, gobble, Gobble!  Denied the company of poultry, he was not picky about partners, jumping on anything that didn’t get out of his way.  He was no respecter of species and attempted to molest pigs. goats, and even horses.  I was so glad when Daddy put a stop to his antics.  That was one year we gave heartfelt thanks a few weeks early.

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Times Past: Mystery of Laundry

Reblogging

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

LaundryStanding in the grocery aisle I stare helplessly at bright plastic containers labeled with biblical promises to remove my stains. Nearing the half century mark and I still have no idea how to do laundry properly.

Women’s work. Historically this is true. Soiled doves, the frontier prostitutes of mining camps often began their careers between the sheets by first washing them. A woman in need of money could always find work in a mining camp washing men’s union suits and socks. Even Sarah Shull, a competent accountant, had to find work as a laundress in the mining town of Denver, Colorado after Cobb McCanless was killed and she no longer had a benefactor. His widow certainly wasn’t going to take her in, dirty laundry as Sarah was to the family.

But this is not a historical reflection. Writer, Irene Waters, calls us to reflect on Times Past in our own…

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Farm Life Ain’t for Kiddies and Cowards

indian dress and henOriginal art by Kathleen Holdaway Swain

Being a farm kid is not for sissies and cowards. The dark side of the chicken-raising experience is slaughtering, plucking, cleaning, and preparing of chickens for the pot.  I watched as Mother transformed into a slobbering beast towering over the caged chickens while we shooed them into the corner of the chicken-yard.  She seemed particularly calculating as she stooped, giving the poor chickens the impression the threat was over. Running her hooked wire clothes hanger at ground level into the midst of the terrorized multitude, she snatched a startled chicken who’d never expected to be attacked at the foot. Exiting the enclosure with her victim, she held it firmly by the head, giving its neck a quick snap before releasing it to turn its last crazy race.  Chickens take a while to get the connection between a broken neck and the end of life.  We crowded by, horribly thrilled by what we knew was coming.  It was scarier than “The Night of the Living Dead” as the chicken flapped its wings, ran with its head hanging crazily to one side, and chased us in ever larger circles until it  finally reached the Pearly Gates.  It looked horribly cruel, but done properly, a quick snap of the wrist breaks the chicken’s neck instantly, giving a quick death.  Sometimes, Mother killed several chickens for the freezer, treating the waiting chickens to a taste of what they were in for.  It didn’t calm them down a bit as the watched the dearly departed flop around the yard.

Roosters are necrophiliacs, turned on by the sight of floppy-necked hens racing by. If one is enticing, just imagine the effect of a yardful! Lustful roosters have no problem resorting to violence toward moralistic humans trying to get between them their fascinating harem. For some reason, Mother was equally determined her chickens not be interfere with her chickens.

Once the chicken was disabled or dead, Mother grabbed it, plunged it into a pot of boiling water, plucked the feathers, slit its pimply white belly and removed its entrails, cut off its feet and head, and prepared it for dinner or the freezer.  I was repulsed when Mother found  unlaid eggs in the egg cavity and saved them for  cooking.  That just didn’t seem right.  I was happy to eat the chicken, but future eggs…disgusting.

Mother looked out one day and saw one of her laying hens eating corn, oblivious to the fact that her gizzard was hanging out.  It bobbed up and down gaily as the chicken pecked corn off the ground.  Apparently she had suffered injury from a varmint.  Clearly, she wouldn’t survive with this injury, so Mother and I tried to catch her.  At least, she could be salvaged for the table.  Well, Her running skills were still intact.  We chased her all over the yard with no luck.  Finally, Mother decided to put her out of her misery by shooting her.  She missed.  She fired again and shot the hen’s foot off. I knew I could do better.  I shot her beak off, then hit her in the tail.  By this time, we both felt horrible and had to get her out of her misery.  Finally, the combined fatigue and her injuries had slowed the poor beakless, tailless, gizzard-bobbing, one-legged chicken down enough so we could catch her and wring her neck.

All chickens didn’t end life as happily.  The LaFay girls, Cheryl, Terry, and Cammie raised chickens for 4-H completion with the of the flock destined to fill their freezer. Late one Thursday evening while their mother was at work, they realized tomorrow was the day for the 4-H barbecue chicken competition.  Mama LaFay wouldn’t be in until way too late to help with slaughtering and dressing the chickens.  After all the time and effort they had put in on their project, they had no choice but to press forward without Mama’s help.  They’d helped Mama with the dirty business of putting up chickens lots of times.  They’d just have to manage the grisly business on their own.

Cheryl, the oldest sister, drew the short straw and won the privilege of wringing the chicken’s neck.  She’d seen Mama do it lots of times but didn’t understand the theory of breaking the neck with a quick snap.  She held the chicken by the neck at arm’s length and swung it around a few times in a wide arc giving it a fine ride, but no real injury.  When she released it, it just ran off drunkenly.  The girls chased and recaptured the chicken a couple of times, giving it another ride or two before the drunken chicken flew up into a tree, saving its life.  Acknowledging her sister’s failure, Terry stepped up to do her duty.  She pulled her chicken from the chicken yard, taking it straight to the chopping block, just like she’d seen Mama do so many times.  Maybe she should have watched a little closer.  Instead of holding the chicken by the head and chopping just below with the hatchet, Terry held it by the feet.  The panicked chicken raised its head, flopped around on the block, and lost a few feathers.  On the next attempt, Cammie tried to help by holding the chicken’s head, but fearing dismemberment jumped when Terry swung the hatchet. The poor chicken only got a slice on its neck.  By now, all three girls were squalling.  Cheryl tied a string on the maimed chicken’s neck.  As Cammie held its feet they stretched the chicken across the block.  By now, Terry was crying so hard so really she couldn’t see.  Taking steady aim, she chopped Henny Penny in half, ending her suffering. Guilt-stricken, they buried the chicken.
Defeated, they finally called their Aunt Millie, who came over and helped them kill and dress their chickens for the competition.  They triumphed and won second place in a field of two.  God only knows what the other team’s chickens may have endured.  All’s well that ends well.

Great Food

imageFor a hearty, satisfying breakfast, give this a try, homemade biscuits and sausage gravy.  Please note, I made no claims about calorie count or fat content, I just said hearty and delicious!  I simplified instructions for new cooks.

Linda’s Sausage Milk Gravy

Scramble one pound of breakfast sausage in skillet and brown slightly.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup flour.  Stir and smooth as it browns.  When sausage is not quite brown enough to serve, stir in 1 cup water to stop browning.  Stir until even consistency about like yogurt.  Stir in enough canned evaporated milk to get slightly thinner than gravy consistency.  Simmer 5-10 minutes, scraping skillet periodically to avoid burning until biscuits come out of oven.  It will get thicker as it simmers.  Taste before you season.  May be seasoned well enough from sausage.  If too thick, stir in a little more milk.  If you get it too thin, simmering will thicken.  Serve over hot biscuits.

Substitution:  Can make this gravy in bacon drippings.  Stir flour in hot (not flaming drippings.) Lower setting to medium.  Scrape bottom of skillet constantly with metal spatula as mix browns to mix well.  When the mix is smooth and slightly darker than mocha stir in about 1 cup cold water, stirring and scraping constantly.  Will steam and thicken quickly.  Add water or milk to dilute to gravy consistency. Whisk frequently and allow to simmer 5-10 minutes for smooth gravy. Season to taste.  May not need much salt.  Bacon is salty.  I like bacon gravy brown.  Adding milk to dilute makes gravy white, but you always need use water to gravy first to preventing scalding and curdling of milk.

Bud’s Biscuits(12 biscuits recipe can be easily doubled or tripled)

Get these in oven before you start gravy.

We use self-rising flour, but if you have all purpose, stir in 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt for each cup flour and mix well.

2 cups flour

1/2 cup shortening

8-10 ounces evaporated canned milk dilute or concentrated to your taste.(save remainder of can for gravy.)

Pre-heat oven to 400 and grease baking pan. Cut shortening into flour.  You can use spoon or pastry blender.  When it is well-mixed and you don’t see big, separate lumps of shortening.  Mix in about 7-8 ounces of the canned milk, if you need to, add just a bit more till mix resembles stiff mashed potatoes. Mix will not be smooth.  Be sure to mix in extra milk a bit at a time if you must.  Dough has to be stiff enough to roll out.  Dust flour over top of biscuit dough and turn onto lightly floured surface. A clean smooth dishtowel, wax paper, or bread board work well.  Knead three or for times till dough well-dusted.  You can get ready to bake one of two ways.  Either roll dough out about 1/2 inches thick, with rolling pin, folding about four times to make layered biscuits and then roll to 1/2 inch thick, cut and bake.  The other option is flour your hands, pinch off dough about 3/4 quarters the size of your palm, dip in a bit of flour dust and roll three or four times.  Put in pan smooth side up.  Butter tops and bake at 400 degrees on middle rack till tops are starting to brown.

After biscuits cool, save left-overs in ziplock bag.  They are great for about three days.  The gravy reheats well, too.

 

Laughter the best medicine – The Archives revisited – Navy, Marines and Hypnotised Seniors – Oops.

Reblogging this hilarious post from Smorgasbord.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

It is Friday and it has been a faily serious week so thought I would lighten things up with a visit to the archives.. I also thought I would share a discerning cat who disagrees with the purchase of economy toilet paper for the family.

A sailor, an airman, several marines, a genie and a hypnotist walked into a blog!

Overseas posting

A newly married sailor was informed by the Navy that he was going to be stationed a long way from home on a remote island in the Pacific for a year. A few weeks after he got there he began to miss his new wife, so he wrote her a letter.

“My love,” he wrote, “we are going to be apart for a very long time. Already I’m starting to miss you and there’s really not much to do here in the evenings. Besides that, we’re constantly surrounded…

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#BlogBattle Week 50 – Prompt: Pure

Look what Tess wrote! I love it!

How the Cookie Crumbles

To join in the fun, click below:

http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

Genre: Drama / Humor

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A Little Malarkey

Grandma Mercy had no patience for wimps nor fools. In her book, Sidney fit both categories. “How’d you ever hook up with a fool like him?”

“Now MeeMa. What’s done is done. No point tempting your blood pressure. He’s a good man.” Celeste paced the hundred-year kitchen, stepping on the creaky spots she still remembered. Freckled and ponytailed, she looked closer to eighteen than thirty. ”I’d like tea. You want tea? Where’s the kettle?”

“Sure. Made double chocolate brownies yesterday. The man’s hands are softer than a baby’s brand new skin.” Grandma reached into a cupboard for the treat tin and another for cups and saucers.

“He’s a scholar. A University Prof. What’s wrong with that?” She watched the gas flame catch beneath the beat up kettle. “Where’s the one I bought you for Christmas?”

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Terrible Tom Turkey and the Thingamajig

Original art by Kathleen Swain

Evil turkey

Evil turkey

Awfuls chasing turey

Awfuls chasing turey

When I was a kid, we often went places normal people would never intentionally go.  Periodically, Daddy would realize he hadn’t spent any time around social misfits and needed a fix, bad!  One day he announced he’d had heard of somebody who lived back in the woods about four miles off Tobacco Road who had a thingamajig he just had to have.  Never mind, all five kids needed new shoes and the lights were due to be cut off.  He NEEDED that thingamajig!

He HAD to check it out, driving forever down rutted roads that looked like they might disappear into nothing. Finally we got back to Mr. Tucker’s shack. Mr. Tucker was wearing overalls and nothing else. Apparently buttoning overalls wasted valuable time needed forpile junk collecting. While Daddy and Mr. Tucker disappeared into the tangle of weeds and mess of old cars, car tires, trash, broken washing machines and other refuse scattered around the house and into the woods.  Mother sweltered in the car with the five of us while Daddy and Mr. Tucker rambled.

It was hot. It got hotter the longer we waited in the punishing July heat. We opened the car doors, hoping to catch a breeze as it got hotter and hotter. The baby and the two-year-old were squalling out their misery as Mother fanned them.  Daddy wasn’t known for the consideration he showed his family.  He was “the man.”

Mrs. Tucker, a big woman in overalls came out in the front yard and started a fire, never even looking our way. She probably thought our car was just another old clunker in their yard. It got even hotter. We were all begging for a drink of water. Daddy was still gone, admiring Mr. Tucker’s junk collection. Daddy could talk for hours, unconcerned that his family was sweltering in the car.  He thought misery was character-building. It didn’t matter that he didn’t know the people he’d just stumbled up on. We spent many an hour waiting in the car while he “talked” usually having stopped off on the way to visit some of his relatives.

Finally, in desperation, Mother got out of the car, introduced herself to Mrs. Tucker, and asked if we could have a drink of water. Mrs, Tucker turned without speaking, went into the house, came back out with some cloudy snuff glasses, called us over to the well, drew a bucket of water, and let us drink till we were satisfied. That was the best water I ever had. Mrs. Tucker pulled a couple of chairs under a shade tree and Mother sat down. We all sat down in the dirt in the cool of the shade and played. Daddy was still prowling around in search of junk, but things looked a lot better after we cooled off and had a drink. Mrs. Tucker was interesting to look at, but didn’t have a lot to say. She had a couple of teeth missing, had greasy red hair that was chopped off straight around, and long scratches down both arms.

Mother tried to talk to her, but Mrs. Tucker wasn’t a great conversationalist.  I suspect she didn’t know too many words.  I couldn’t take my eyes off the missing teeth and long scratches down her arm. Despite Mother’s attempts to quell my questions, I found out a lot about her. She didn’t have any kids. It didn’t take long to figure out she “wasn’t right.” I was fascinated and wanted to ask about what happened to her teeth, but knew that would get me in trouble, so I asked how she scratched her arms. Mother told me to hush, but fortunately, Mrs. Tucker explained. It seemed she was going to put a rooster in the big pot in the front yard to scald him before plucking him.  He’d scratched her and gotten away before she could get the lid on. Apparently she didn’t know she was supposed to kill him first. Just at the point where things were getting interesting, Daddy came back and I didn’t get to hear the rest of the story.

Mrs. Tucker gave us a turkey that day, teaching me a valuable lesson. Don’t ever accept the gift of a turkey. Ol’ Tom was going to be the guest of honor at our Thanksgiving Dinner. Daddy put him in the chicken yard and Tom took over, whipping the roosters, terrorizing the hens, and jumping on any kid sent to feed him and the chickens. We hated him. Mother had to take a stick to threaten him off when she went out to the chicken yard. He even flew over the fence and chased us as we played in the back yard till Daddy clipped his wings.

Before too long, we saw the Nickerson kids, the meanest kids in the neighborhood, headed for the chicken yard. Mother couldn’t wait to see Tom get them. Sure enough, Ol’ Devil Tom jumped out from behind a shed on jumped on the biggest boy, Clarence. Clarence yelped and ran. The other boys were right behind him, swatting at the turkey. Unlike us, they didn’t run out with their tails tucked between their legs. They launched an all-out attack on Tom, beating him with their jackets, sticks, and whatever they could grab. They chased him until they were tired of the game. Tom never chased any of us again, but Mother never got around to thanking the Nickersons.

Rudy Carries On

imageJody’s rooster acted just like him, except maybe for the drinking.  He was in a chronic bad mood, always looking for a fight. We could hear him coming. “ Aruuh, aruuuh, aruuuh.”  He sounded like the screeching of metal rubbing against itself.  He entertained himself by stalking around and finding someone or something to attack.  We all despised Rudy, and ran when we heard, “Aruuh, aruuh, aruuh.”   I was visiting the neighbor kids, Lainy and her mean big sister Nita, when Rudy hopped the Austin’s fence into their yard.  If Nita ever played with us, we could usually count on a mean trick, like stomping our mudpies or kicking down the walls of our playhouses.  As we sat in the grass making clover chain necklaces, Nita jumped up and ran in the house.  She latched the screen door behind her, not saying a word.  Lainy and I just kept on making our necklaces when we heard, “Aruuh, aruuh, aruuh,” right behind us.

Rudy had sneaked up on us.  We tried to escape, but he jumped high on Lainy’s back, hanging onto her hair, clawing and scratching her with his big spurs.  I made it to the front porch, but Rudy hung on to Lainy, flogging and clawing.  Every time she tried to make it to the porch, Rudy clawed her again, and off she went, his beating fueling her terror.  Poor little Lainy ran round and round the house, that sneaky Nita running from window to window, door to door, laughing and enjoying the whole thing.  When Lainy’s mother realized what was going on, she raced to Lainy’s rescue. Rudy kept spurring Lainy somewhere out in the yard . Finally, Lainy’s mother caught up to her and pulled Rudy off her.  Furious as a mama bear, she whirled Rudy around smartly to snap his evil neck, slung him a few times around her head to do be sure she’d done the job right, then turned him loose to do his final chase around the yard.  Even though his head hung to one side and flopped madly as he ran in circles, it wasn’t comforting to see the depraved monster coming at us again.

Jody Austin had started over to save his property when he realized Rudy had gotten in over his head, but reconsidered when he saw Rudy’s sad fate at that enraged mama’s hands.  Nita didn’t fare too well when her Mama made time to deal with her, either.

19 Websites and Magazines That Want to Publish Your Personal Essays

Reblogged post shared by Silver Threading

✨The Fairy Whisperer ✨Colleen Chesebro✨

GREAT INFORMATION HERE! GIVE IT A TRY! ❤

Not sure where to share a personal essay? Here’s your list of sites to target.

Source:19 Websites and Magazines That Want to Publish Your Personal Essays

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