Turning the chickens

Disclaimer: Some people believe that I do not know when reality ends and fiction begins. I do not hear voices in my head talking to me so I don’t really care what other people believe. I’ve had a third grade teacher shake her head at me when we walked in for a parent-teacher conference many years ago. The stories I tell are mine and I’m sticking to them. With that said, you may want to take this disclaimer into account as you continue to read my posts.

The Massanutten is divided into two ridges with a valley separating them. It has been said that this valley was to be the last stand for George Washington and his forces during the Revolutionary War if need be. Today we went over to King’s Crossing at the base of the westerly ridge and started up this ridge. We venture over yonder every so often to fetch water from a spring part way to the top. The well water on our place is suitable for drinking, bathing, washing clothes, etc. but because of the calcium deposits in the water it raises holy heck on the Keurig coffee pot. Heaven forbid should we use the glass percolator and make a whole pot at a time. No, we have to buy those expensive single cup pods! But I digress.

Fetching the water today reminded me of one of my tasks as a boy back in Iowa. It was my duty to turn the chickens each evening. On the farm where I grew up we had three water supplies. There was both a well and a cistern that were used to supply the house and another well that was used for livestock water. The water from this deep well was to hard for household use and was used strictly for the farm animals. We had a hand pump on a concrete slab on the shallower house well where we would first have to “prime the pump” before we could pump the handle to fill the water pail. We would then lug the full pail into the kitchen and carefully put the dipper into the pail. The cistern did not have a cover as the down spouts from the house would deposit the rain that fell on the roof along with what rain would fall into the opening into the cistern for supplemental use.

It is a known fact that some species of poultry, such as quail and chickens, will “covey up” in evenings for safety during the night. By “covey up” I mean that they will sit in a circle with their tail ends toward the center of the circle and their head ends pointing out. If danger approaches they can explode in all directions to flee said danger and some of their flock will live another day. We had free range eggs before free range eggs were in vogue. Our chickens had the run of the farm-yard and each evening would roost on the rim of the cistern. It was my duty after supper each evening to sneak out the living room door, carefully creep up on the laying hens trying not to make any noise what so ever. I would slip my left hand under the hen while my right hand covered its little beak, and gently lift and turn each hen 180 degree. If I did my job right, I wouldn’t have to wait another half an hour for them to covey back up and we were assured of a clean water supply.

Oh, the memories I have.

Keep Your Fork



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