I want to thank Chicken Scratch poultry for letting me be the guest blogger this week. I am Angie's cousin and I grew up on a small family farm in southern Illinois. That is where my inspiration to become a veterinarian was born. My dad raised cattle and hogs and my grandparents had dairy cows when I was young. We always had dogs around and there were many, many kittens to spend the day cuddling. Most of my early memories involve “critters” and one of my fondest memories was the day my momma's first chickens came to the farm. With a growing family and mouths to feed, she decided we needed some chickens so we wouldn't have to buy eggs. She placed an order for an assortment of chicks and we turned an old smoke house into a chicken coop. A few days later, our mailman drove up to the house and honked. He handed us a box and boy, was that box peeping! I will never forget Mom lifting the lid to show us those fluffy little chicks. She had a little chicken nursery for them and I thought it was so funny that their little water dishes were filled with marbles to keep them from drowning. It was so neat to watch them grow and change. We had some Barred Rocks, Leghorns and what looked like Buff Orpingtons.
As they grew, we discovered we had several roosters in the bunch. My mom and Grandma Smith decided that we should “put up” those roosters. I didn't know what that meant but soon learned that I was not cut out for “putting up” chickens. I was elected to help pluck feathers and to this day I remember the smell of those hot feathers. I decided then and there that I would just buy my chicken meat at the store because I didn't want to eat anyone I knew personally.
My momma was a firm believer that chickens should roam free during the day. Those chickens had a great time scratching around the barnyard and garden. They were fat and happy eating all the spilled grain and feed around the farm. My big brother was not a big fan of the free range chickens. He had a little basketball court and he would invite his friends over to play. He hated being in the middle of a fierce game and having to stop to wipe the chicken poop off the ball. My little brother was about four years old and liked the hens but our rooster liked to attack him when he wasn't looking. The rooster didn't bother the adults or older kids but he thought Josh was an easy target. He had to resort to carrying a wiffle ball bat everywhere he went to keep the rooster off him. My Dad finally decided the rooster had to go because he jumped on his boy one too many times.
Those chickens were very productive and produced fine eggs with the most beautiful golden yolks. They made gorgeous yellow cakes and custards and breakfast was never better.
My momma began selling eggs to all the neighbor ladies and they were always in demand. Mom helped Dad farm and I was often left home to make sure someone was there to sell the eggs. Mrs. Davis would drive up in an old truck, wearing her big straw hat and I would run out to “do my trading” with her. Mrs. Allen always wanted the brown eggs and everyone always brought back the egg cartons to refill.
As we Smith kids grew and left home, there was not a need for so many eggs. The chicken population grew older too since Mom didn't have a rooster and she didn't order any more chicks. When I was in college, my Dad rounded up the few remaining hens and took them to our neighbors to add to their growing flock. My Dad told them they hadn't seen a rooster in years and the excitement might do them in! They lived out their final days enjoying life on a goat farm.
It seemed odd to return home and not see any chickens running around the yard. The first time I had to buy store bought eggs and I looked at those pale anemic looking yolks, I felt sorry for people who didn't know the joy of a fresh egg. I felt sorry for people who had never heard a rooster crow in the cool of the morning or saw group of fat hens scratching through the yard in search of the treasure of a juicy bug. I felt sorry for folks who didn't grow up on a farm, where kids and chickens could roam free. It was funny how some eggs could make you be grateful and long for home at the same time.
Those of you raising chickens with your families are doing more than producing eggs. You are making memories. The first time you hatch chicks, those omelets for breakfast, those cakes you bake for the family reunion, the pride of winning first place at the fair ....all memories that started with a few chicks. Enjoy your chickens and I wish your families memories as precious as mine!
Thanks and have a great day!
Dr. Emily Smith
Thanks and have a great day!
Dr. Emily Smith
This is Dr. Emily Smith's Vet clinic in Albion IL. If you locals are looking for a good Veterinarian give the Countryside Veterinary Clinic a call.
Leave a comment and let Emily know we appreciate her taking time out of her busy schedule to be our guest!!