Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Life As A Chicken Farmer

Imagine my surprise one day when my husband came home and announced that he planned to buy our landladys chickens. All 100 of them!! That's what I said, 100 of them. True we were a young couple and always had bills that needed paying. But, chickens. Lordy help us, I cried. His reasoning.... hens lay eggs... sailors eat eggs.... instant market. Guess you could say he became an businessman on the spot.

As a child I'd grown up in the countryside but we didn't farm. I once had a pet bantam rooster but that does not qualify me as an expert on chickens. Besides the rooster died. Yes, I did great raising a rooster. Heck, back then I probably didn't even know that it takes a rooster to make baby chicks.

So, we became proud owners of 100 laying hens who remained nesting and laying in their high-rise apartments in an enclosure at the back of our yard. Hubby got some order tickets printed up. Barton's Poultry Farm it announced in bold letters at the top.

POULTRY FARM? True, we lived out in the country but it wasn't far from the base and true we now had hens that laid eggs. But, that sounded so, how do I put it, official.

Elbert started taking egg orders at the base. It was a two-man (or one man, one woman) operation. He delivered the eggs. Guess who got to collect them? Yep. I'd take our little daughter out with me to the hen house and we'd walk up and down the rows of nests in search of eggs. There is nothing any more ornery than a dadgum hen sitting on an egg she just laid. She dares you to get your hand within a foot of her nest and then she starts squalking and pecking and raising all sorts of cain.

Our two year old would run for cover and it was me that had to feel around under that warm feathery body until I could grab the egg with my greedy little fingers. The hen was upset, I was upset and that hen would pay me back the next day by laying another egg.  Urrrh.

I'd wash the eggs, place them into cartons and Elbert would drive off to the base with them. He'd come back grinning, money in hand. Those hens were like the goose that laid the golden egg to us.

Elbert got transferred to another base. There wasn't a landlady with chickens within a hundred miles. I didn't miss those chicken one iota. After 22 years Elbert retired from the Navy and we MOVED BACK TO THE FARM.

Yes, there were chickens. A lesser number this time but those hens had a real habit of getting out of the fencing. I'd try to catch them to send them back to coop-ville. Only way I could do it was walk up behind the hen, yell 'SQUAT', scoop her up and fling her over the fence. Until the next time she'd come flying over.

My laundry room was attached to the end of the carport. One day I was putting a load of wash into the dryer when the phone rang inside the house. Finished with my call I ran back out and slammed the dryer door shut and turned it on.  The clothes got dry and I started lifting each piece out. Yellow stains all over everything. What the dickens?  Then I found bits of egg shell. A hen had laid an egg on top of my wash while I was busy talking on the phone. I am glad she wasn't still in there when I shut the door. We'd of had one dizzy hen when she got out.... around, around, around....

I was never meant to be a farmers wife. I'd married this handsome sailor and we had lived in some very interesting places (Midway Island, Honolulu Hawaii, The Naval Academy at Annapolis Maryland etc) but that man of mine had more than one drop of farmers blood hidden deep down inside him so he had dragged me kicking and screaming back to Alabama and the farm. Well, it wasn't quite that bad but I never liked farm work and I sure didn't like chickens. 

I had lived in cities, towns, gone to coffee at the Admirals house, attended receptions for high ranking officials from D. C. and other places. I'd dressed to the 'nines' in my pretty suits or dresses, with matching hats and gloves.

 I'd given parties and been to parties. How in the world did I end up being a chicken farmer? Thank goodness it was only a tiny part of all the excitement and fun of Navy life and being married to a wonderful country dude who gave me a life I wouldn't have traded for anything.


  1. Oh Latane..... you've given me a great picture of you as a 'farm girl'....and a great laugh!!

    Me, not being a farm girl ....ever..... I've never thought about having to take the egg from under the hen.... eeekkk!

    You and Elbert sure had some fun and interesting adventures!

  2. Hi Latane,great story!You are a natural story teller with a gift for putting words together.I never knew you were a chicken farmer to 100 hens, the mind boggles!It was a good way to earn a few extra dollars though and another chapter in life with Elbert which never seems to have been boring!

  3. Awwww... Great tale! I lived on a farm for two years and loved every minute of it!
    Loved this!!

  4. NOW...YOU CAN TELL A STORY!!!!!!! I enjoyed this so. We had chickens on our farm when I was growing up but my Mom did not want anything to do with them...just like you!!!! It was just a few years and then those chickens were gone! LOL!

    Great story, Latane. I look forward to the next one!!!


  5. This is GREAT Mom! So funny. Yep, I finally managed to get on here. I don't know why it took me several weeks, but the computer finally cooperated, and here I am!


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