My Own Chicken

When I was just a little boy on the farm, I spent much of my time fascinated by the baby animals — a young colt, a calf, baby chicks and ducklings.
When I was big enough, my grandmother said it was time I had my very own chicken.
Since becoming an adult, I have learned to appreciate the importance of chicken — fried chicken, baked chicken, chicken fricassee or chicken casserole. While traveling as a singer from church to church, you can’t help but become accustomed to it.  Everywhere you go some nice lady always comes with a great big platter of Southern fried chicken for you to eat.
But as a child, I had not really connected the fact that little baby chicks grow up to be dinner.
Since we lived in the suburbs of Atlanta, Grandma said when I was ready she would give me three eggs and hopefully one would hatch.
To get ready, we had to order an incubator by mail to replace the warmth of the hen. The little yellow hatchery looked like a small spaceship.
After getting set up, Grandma picked out three eggs for me on our next trip to the farm. I remember coming in each day and gently turning the eggs so they would be heated evenly on both sides from the bulb in the bottom.
I watched those little eggs patiently, knowing that one day soon I would have my very own baby chick.
After a while, two of the three eggs decided it was time to get out of that spaceship and began to break through the egg.
I will never forget my excitement as each little yellow being came into a new world. Of course, for me it was hard to tell what they were going to be when they grew up. With the names I gave them, “Roscoe” and “King,” it worked out well since they both turned out to be roosters.
I did my best with the help of my folks to nurse those little chicks into adulthood.
They stayed in a little box in the kitchen and were fed and watered until they got big enough to go outside.
In our back yard, they made friends with my dog “Track,” and the trio had a fine old time running about. Of course, I think Track had more fun than Roscoe and King. He always seemed to be doing the chasing.
I am sure the neighbors were not overjoyed by the addition of the chickens to our subdivision, but as long as they were quiet, the chickens were welcome.
As roosters will, eventually they began to raise the sun with their crowing.
While we never had any complaints, I know the neighbors would eventually tire from their early morning alarms. So, Roscoe and King got to go on a trip to Grandma’s farm.
It was tough to let them go, but I did, and they seemed much happier running around the barn yard with all the other chickens.
I did get to visit them from time to time. Of course, I did receive some ribbing from my aunt Bessie in her letters on how good they were at last Sunday’s dinner.
It was much later when my mother Pearl and her friends, Mary Burgess and Nettie Fischer, decided that they would cut some corners and save money on the food budget. They decided to buy a bunch of chickens for a dime a piece, kill and clean them and put them in the freezer so we would have plenty to eat. As a little kid, I watched all the hard work the ladies put into this process. I watched as the chickens did their dance as they lost their heads. After seeing the little critters running around the yard, I just did not have the heart to eat a one of them. I guess I just pictured them as being Roscoe and King.
The experience taught me a tremendous amount about the responsibility of taking care of little ones. Perhaps the same is true of people.
Wouldn’t it be a nice world if everyone realized the importance of providing constant care and guidance to their little ones until they can run with the other big people and take care of themselves?