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The Fine Art Of Chicken Raisin’

I am a hillbilly. As I have stated before, I am very proud of that fact. Hillbillies can fix just about anything. We can also take two or three broken things and make them into something else, using duct tape, baling wire, and whatever else it takes to get the job done. Men like me were green way before it was popular. Although sometimes hillbillies like me are labeled as simple minded, nothing could be farther from the truth. Look around my place and you’ll see just what I mean.

Our old porch deck is now a swing set and two flower pots. Several leftover boards are also currently holding up our house as headers in doorways, as I open each room for more space. Hillbillies like me need an open floor plan. I think it stems from living in a tent now and then.

My most recent adventure solidifies my membership in the Loyal Order of Hillbillies.

I drive by my friend Mike’s house every day, and in the mornings I watch as he chases his chickens back into the pen from his front yard. I am envious of him. Nothing makes a hillbilly more proud than watching his chickens peck away at the last few blades of grass in his yard.

So, the other day I asked Mike for help, and he had plenty of advice for me. “First off, I need to know how serious you really are.” he said, looking me straight in the eye.

“Don‘t look away from me,” he said sharply. “A man can’t just go willy-nilly into the sport of chicken raisin’ without being totally dedicated to his chickens,” were his next words of advice. “Let me ask you a few questions. If your wife wanted you to change her flat tire and your chickens needed to be fed, which would you choose to do first?” he asked.

I spoke slowly when I answered, “I would feed the chickens first.” He stared at me for a minute, then he asked, “If you had five dollars left in your pocket and you had to choose between milk and bread for your kids or chicken feed for your brood, which would it be?”

That was a tough one. I thought for a minute. “Don’t think!” he said, “Just answer the question.” “The chickens.” I said quickly. My theory here was if we got hungry we would be able to eat the chickens, but bread and milk don’t reproduce at our house, so better to feed the chickens.

Mike was satisfied. He sat me down and we talked of chicken strategy, theory and application, and within a few hours I knew enough to start my chicken farm. I felt like Tennessee Tuxedo being taught by Mr. Whoopie. The only thing missing was the magic chalk board.

So I got twenty eggs from Mike and an incubator, and soon I was making chickens. My wife was skeptical, wondering why I was spending so much time in the basement, so I jokingly said, ”I am checking out the hot chicks in the back room,” not realizing I had just broken one of Mike’s hard-fast rules: “Never joke about chickens.”

Well, it had been eighteen days since we put the eggs under the heat, and I was on pins and needles, waiting for the little guys to come to life. I had a cracked egg that I knew wasn’t going to make it. So, as I did my 4 a.m. check, I pulled the egg out of the incubator and took it upstairs to throw it away. My curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to open the egg and see what was inside.

As soon as I touched the egg to the side of the trash can it exploded like a hand grenade all over me and the refrigerator and the wall. There were little feathers and egg yolk everywhere. I took a breath and started wiping it up, but the odor was overwhelming, causing me to convulse. Good thing the trash can was right there.

Here I was at 4 a.m., making quite a racket in the kitchen, waking people up and shooing the cat away and cleaning my mess up, lighting candles and washing the walls, and all I could think of was “Mike would be very proud of me.” At that moment I was truly dedicated to the sport of chicken raisin’.

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