have been on my mind. I've raised a variety of them over the years. As a kid
the first chicken coop I recall was about 8' by 8' and tall enough to walk
into. It had several inches of wood chips covering the floor, a waterer,
feed trough, and a crushed shell dispenser. There were several poles from
wall to wall about 4' off the floor for a roost. Those chickens had access
to a fenced in yard. In later years I had a similar coop but no fence. Those
chickens were allowed to roam - what they call "free-range" today. They
would be out picking at whatever growth appealed to them and worms most of
the day. But as the sun started to go down they would go inside to roost.
Which brings me to my point: there was nothing vengeful or evil about them
"coming home to roost". It was actually the opposite - returning to their
safe spot. So how did we get from that to the evil connotation implied by
newscasters for that same expression ?
Ah, the memories. We moved to a different farm in 1953, and I was 3 years
old. For several years we had the chicken coop with a small opening (doggy
door of today would be the example), and when the hens were in at night to
roost, we would close that opening. This was to keep out nocturnal
predators out. I remember the old hens being followed by a brood of baby
chicks in the spring and summer. Anyway, the coyotes started coming up
through the corn field and snatching a chicken as they were out on their
daily free range romp. Dad had to erect an open pen of chicken wire for the
day time outings. The chickens did not seem to know the difference as long
as they were well fed. It was my job to collect the eggs, and I hated doing
it as some of the old hens were kind of mean and did not want me to take
their eggs away!! Sometimes on Sunday morning, Mom would pick out a few of
the younger chickens to be honored guests at Sunday dinner. My older
sister's job was to chop their heads off and bleed them out. My job was to
pluck them. The smell was awful as we dipped them into hot water to loosen
the feathers!! Mom wanted them picked clean, with only a few pinfeathers
left when I would finally be done to her approval. The fried chicken,
mashed potato and chicken gravy dinner was the best ever!!
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