Attending the fair last week and spending some time looking through the animal barns reminded me why I’m not fond of chickens. As a kid growing up on the farm, we had pigs, cows, boarded a few horses, and raised chickens, the white feathered variety. The rooster we owned was proprietary about his hens, which is what you’d expect, but he carried his ownership attitude too far. It was best to wear boots when you went to let the chickens out of the coop or put them in at night because he was an ankle pecker. It wasn’t just a swipe he took when you passed by, but he liked to pursue you and would make a run for anyone nearby.
I found the hens interesting and, in comparison to their old man, they were friendly. The “hen house” was a small building, just about the right size for a child to use as a playhouse, and I spent hours in there, gathering eggs but also just playing. I’d often take my two Teddy bears with me as companions. I had two bears, one was brown and beige, the other a Panda bear, black and white. I had dolls as a child, but my favorite “children” were my bears. One afternoon my mother called me in when I was in the coop playing there with “Panda,” my name for he black and white bear. You guessed it, the other bear was called “Teddy.” I don’t remember why I left Panda in the coop, but I did, and found him the next day covered with chicken poop. I had to have known there was chicken poop in there, and I had to have known where it came from, but I left the bear anyway and was heartbroken to see what had happened to him during his evening’s stay. My mother shook her head at me and, rare for her, she didn’t scold, but took Panda and cleaned him up, well enough that he smelled clean and showed little evidence of what a chicken will do when nesting on an abandoned bear.
After the Panda episode, I spent less time in the coop. I think I blamed the chickens (not my thoughtlessness) for Panda’s state, or maybe I had grown up enough to notice the entire coop, my one time playhouse, was covered in chicken poop. So I continued my play in the corn crib and the cob house, the small building that held cobs shucked of their kernels. Eventually my afternoons took me to the hayloft or out to the open fields.
I’m not crazy about chickens even now, but my next door neighbor has a few laying hens, not white ones, but those with red, black, grey and beige feathers. They lay brown and bluish green eggs. I kind of like that. And the girls are pretty friendly too, although I recommend watching where you step when you’re in her yard.
The fair closed on Sunday. Sigh.
Are you attending any fairs this summer? What kinds of food do you like to eat there? And what are your favorite rides?