Tag Archives: Chickens

Those Chickens ~ Part One {The History}

I am not far removed from rural living. Both my parents grew up on farms in North Dakota. While these farms were vastly different (Norwegian/grain/some livestock farm versus German/livestock/some grain ranch), I learned early how to use an outhouse and that food doesn’t actually originate in a grocery store.

My Aunt Vi,  dad’s sister, lived on the home farm most her life and had broilers. These are chickens specifically raised for meat production. Yes, you read that correctly, these chickens become Sunday dinner. Broilers do not receive cute names. They are not pets. They are future food.

Some summers, if I was unlucky enough, our visit to Aunt Vi’s farm coincided with the butchering of her chickens. Growing up in a big city, and being me, the thought of killing anything is abhorrent. Therefore, I never witnessed the actual event. I always hid in the house with a book and pretended the meat later served came from far, far away. Possibly a magical land where everyone is happy and meat is grown from the ground, similar to crops.

My younger brother and sister didn’t understand this thinking. For them watching was a rare, exciting treat. Maybe they were more connected to the ebb and flow of life than me. Whatever. Getting your younger siblings to cease talking about chicken butchering was a monumental task. They would run into the farmhouse, talking excitedly about the ‘goings-on’ outside. No, I do not want to know what is happening outside. No, I do not want to know what a chicken does when its head is chopped off. No, I do not want to know how clean, swift and humane the process was.

With no form of escape, I would whine to mom. “Make them stop.” “I am going to throw up.” “Do not make me eat any, and I mean any, chickens this visit!”

Mom, my wise, wise counsel, would put her arms around me, suggest a better place to hide but also nudge me to think deeply about life, food and personal preferences. If I was going to be a meat eater, I needed to realize that meat came from animals. Otherwise, I needed to change, drastically.

I flirted with vegetarianism for a while, it didn’t take. I still eat a number of meatless meals each week, but I have come to realize that meat is a part of my life. I am trying to be more conscious where my food comes from, whether fruits, vegetables or meat.

Which leads me back full circle to my family. My brother has laying hens and broilers on his hobby farm. My daughter, who lives in a suburb of a big city, has purchased laying hens.

Chickens, the real, living, breathing kind… no matter how hard I try, I cannot get away from them.

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Chickens, Pageants and Parking Ramps

Saturday, I traveled to the Miss Minnesota Pageant. My niece was a contestant and I wanted to join family to offer support. I am not your typical pageant goer. I don’t wear  a lot of makeup, heels or dresses. As one who works with children, usually on the floor, I tend to dress in a wash and wear style.

I thought I would make it easier on myself by driving to Minnesota (near my daughters) to get ready there. I had my hair styled at their salon and proceeded next door to get my nails done.

Running short on time, I exited the salon against the stylists recommendation and ran for my car. As I fumbled with keys and phone, I decimated my first nail. Darn! I tried repairing the nail by pushing the still wet polish back into place as I drove. That is when the rain storm hit. I parked outside my daughter’s home hoping the rain would subside. It didn’t. I ran for the house trying to save the hair and saturating the dress I planned to wear as I held it over my head. The lock box with the key for the home (since my daughter was out of town) would not budge and trying to force it open damaged a second nail. I stood outside the locked house and wailed…quietly.

Pulling myself together, I headed back to my car, this time saving the dress from another soaking but exposing my hair to the elements. As I gazed at my image in the rearview mirror, I wondered how other people could calmly get ready for these events.

I drove to my second daughter’s apartment where I dressed, dabbed on makeup, my daughter salvaged my hair, then we sprinted for the car. I handed my iPad to my daughter with a screen shot of the directions for the location where we were meeting my sister-in-law. She looked at the directions and said, “I can’t follow this. Where’s the dot that shows where we are on a map?” And I thought, “Oh, for crying out loud!”

We decided to try my car’s GPS. I have a 2007 Prius with a GPS system that only works with voice commands when you are driving. Not having time to stop and type in directions, we used our voices.

GPS system: “After hitting the talk button, please say the name of the state.”
Me: “Minnesota”
GPS system: “Minnesota. After hitting the talk button, please say the name of the city or change state.”
Me: “Eden Prairie”
GPS system: “Eden Prairie. After hitting the talk button, please say the name of the street or change city.”

Everything was working smoothly until we came to the street number. The system was unable to get the street number correct so we had to start over from the very beginning. I know, I know, I should have pulled over and typed in the directions. But that doesn’t work so well either. I have a demented GPS system.

We arrived (late) to pick up my sister-in-law. She got in the car as we prepared to travel to another location to meet my sister and her daughter.

I gave the iPad (with the next set of directions) to my sister-in-law. My daughter was relaying the new address into the GPS. My sister, ever helpful, telephoned to guide us. Unfortunately, all we could hear of her voice, over the speaker, was static. This was just too much for us. As the GPS talked to us, the iPad went into sleep mode and my sister conversed in static, we howled with laughter causing makeup to stream down our faces.

We finally met up with my sister, who took us to her car. As we were talking about our ordeal, unbeknownst to us she was driving through the parking ramp going the wrong way. As vehicles approached, we screamed, she dodged cars and executed an amazing feat of chicken with one man. We won.

Five bedraggled women arrived at the Miss Minnesota Pageant. We cheered, hooted and howled as my amazingly beautiful, talented niece performed throughout the night. At the end of the evening, she was the last woman standing. Yes, that is correct. She won and is the new, reigning Miss Minnesota.

After the pageant, we were allowed on stage to offer congratulations, hugs and say our goodbyes. That is when the photographer decided to take an extended family picture. Noooooooooooooooo! Just thinking about standing near an evening gown clad Miss Minnesota for a public photo made me cringe. With no hope for escape, I stood in the back row trying to look invisible.

What a day! I dropped my daughter off at her apartment (after getting her sister’s spare key) and drove to my eldest daughter’s home (with my sister and niece following in their vehicle) for some much needed sleep. We walked into the home when I remembered I needed to head to the basement to make sure the chickens were okay.

Chickens you say? In the basement? Yes…. but that is a story for another day.