Easter Chicks

March 26, 2023 at 3:50 p.m.

...by Joan Temple

On my walk to the grocery store, my attention is caught by the cluck, cluck of buff-colored hens foraging in a fenced yard.

I love chickens. Partly, being myopic myself, I can relate to their intense scrutiny of the ground beneath their beak. I, too, put my nose almost to the paper. I also like the way they hold their heads up high and survey my passing in an almost regal way. Perhaps some other passerby brings treats.

When I was a child, we were successful in raising the yellow, animated balls of Easter chicks. We fed them chicken feed but also out-of-date farina cereal from my father’s grocery story. Cooked and poured into their pen it resulted in my distaste for farina or any other creamy hot cereal.

When my children were little, we also raised baby chicks, Feather, Easter and Tiger. This trio of hens once escaped into the neighborhood and the kids had a very fun time finding them. Instead of eating them, to avoid traumatizing the kids, we took them to a farm in the fall. We were told our hens raised havoc with the pecking order of the bantam chickens there and would not be welcome again.

Our last group of hens flew into our plum tree at dusk. Each time, I would get the ladder and the kids would put the hens in their chicken-wire pen and roosting house. They were free during the day. Unfortunately, an off-lease German shepherd passing through the alley killed two of the birds. I found a home for the orphan.

My friend, Gail, has built a hen house worthy of an architect. She has 17 heads of different breeds, the survivors of 20 chicks. There is no shortage of buyers for her fresh eggs. It’s not a coincidence that her vegetable garden looks like Eden. At this time in history, I would say that instead of “a chicken in every pot” we should have a hen in every house. Then every garden like Gail’s will be a little Eden and we can feed ourselves. Less transport of food stuffs will decrease carbon emissions. I don’t believe hens emit as much methane as cows and the substance adding to the “greening” of America will be chicken manure.

About the author: Growing up in a southern Minnesota small town, of course the facts of the chicken story are true. My father, who owned a general store there, had one of the first spinal fusions at the Mayo Clinic. Helping with his care when he got home (and impressed by the white nurse uniforms), I became interested in the nursing profession. Training at St Mary’s hospital was exciting with patients from all over the world passing through. Nursing has been a rewarding experience with lots of variety. I have worked in coronary care, visiting nursing, maternal child health and taught nursing with the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. I am 81 years old and useless for current medical information.

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