Do not count your chickens before they are hatched. ~Aesop~
“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”~Arnold H. Glasgow~
I was six when we first got the chickens. We loved to go to the chicken yard and stick long pieces of grass through the wire to see them snatch it and run away. Daddy would come out every afternoon and scatter corn and scratch feed around on the ground for the hens to eat. He'd always fill the troughs with fresh water and laying mash every single day. Daddy took very good care of his chickens.
He would gather their eggs while they scratched and pecked at the food he had scattered.One Friday afternoon daddy was running a little late getting to his chores. He had had a bad day at work and then it seemed like everything that could go wrong did that day. He sent me and Jimmy to the chicken yard and told us to just scatter some scratch feed and gather the eggs. I reckon that he planned to see to everything else early Saturday morning before he went to work.
Jimmy scattered the feed and told me to get all the eggs from the nests. I checked high and low in all of the baskets until I got to the very last nest. Sitting there in the last basket was an ornery old hen we all called big red. Big red never missed a chance to peck you. She would peck at you through the fence if you got too close. I told Jimmy I wasn't bothering big red even for eggs.
Jimmy and I were standing there trying to decide what to do about this mean old hen when Daddy came out to see what was keeping us. He told me to bump the bottom of the basket and scare her down. When that didn't work he tossed a handful of feed right in front of her. She still sat there looking at me with her beady little eye. Finally Daddy went into the pen himself and I backed away under the shed because I knew he was mad. He was mad with everything right then and he was especially mad with big red.
Daddy reached under that mean old hen and grabbed her by both feet. Just as Daddy closed his hand on her feet she pecked him hard about ten times in a row. My Daddy was a kind man and as gentle as any person I ever knew but right then he lost his temper with that mean old chicken and tossed her to the ground. I watched in amazement as she squawked and limped across the chicken yard. Clucking and falling over and over. Daddy yelled at me and Jimmy to get inside and get washed up for supper. We ran for the house; Glad to be away from daddy and his rare anger.
Daddy stayed outside for a good while that evening. Mama had already fed us kids by the time he came inside with the eggs. He didn't say what had happened to that mean old hen and we didn't dare ask him. I thought for sure he had buried her behind the pen where I had seen him bury other chickens that had died.Saturday Morning I woke up early and decided to go and see where daddy had buried that mean old hen. I just knew daddy had killed her for pecking him and making him mad. I hurried out to the pen and ran around behind. No where could I see any turned over dirt. No where could I see where he had dug a hole for a mean and nasty hen. Suddenly with a cluck and a squawk I saw the mean old thing coming for the wire. Striding along on her leg taped up with two Popsicle sticks was big red. My gentle daddy had fixed her broken leg rather than wringing her mean neck.
Big red always did have a crooked leg after that day and Daddy and her seemed to have an understanding between them. I never saw daddy snatch her off the nest again and I never saw her peck him again either. Big red set her nest whenever she wanted to and would hatch at least a dozen bitties every year. Daddy always had a soft spot for her after that and I would sometimes catch him tossing a worm from the garden right to her in the late evening time.
My Daddy lost his temper and then regretted it. That crooked legged hen lived a long long time to remind him and us that he was human. I had never thought so before that day. To loose your temper is human; to be sorry for it should be human also. Have a great day!