The Old Chicken House
Reflections of my childhood...
"we were poorer than Job’s turkey…"
The deed read 2228 Shelby Street, Bristol Tennessee; and that’s how our little family started after having lived at B-4 Rice Terrace when I was born just eighteen months before. Mom said she thought the house had a bathroom, but instead there was found a path out back. Dad always said “we were poorer than Job’s turkey…” I guess we just didn’t have much starting out in all new surroundings and across town in another state. After being incorporated within the city limits a few years later our street name and number changed due to an incorrect survey earlier by the city planners. It seems Shelby Street ran to the back of the property instead of the front and the new house number read 2229 Bay Street as it is today.
I think Jim & Jack had other plans for that old chicken house
We did have a hog pen on the back of the lot, and plenty of room for chickens, even though we lost some to foxes. Dad said we could tear down the old coop and build a larger chicken house, up off the ground; that would house more chickens and make it harder for the foxes to get in. I think Jim & Jack helped dad design that old chicken house and had other plans if we ever gave up on the chickens. The front room (closest to the back of our house) was where the laying hens roosted and the roosters and chicks were kept in the backroom.
the extra eggs from the chickens brought 60 cents a dozen
Actually everything worked out pretty well. We would slop the hogs from the leftovers from the table and we got chicken feed from the Feed & Seed store in town. The hogs were later slaughtered and butchered and the extra eggs from the chickens brought 60 cents a dozen I recall. I would watch mom as she gathered the eggs. She would hold each one up to the light to see if there was a baby chicken inside. If so, she marked the egg-shell with a pencil and told us to always put the marked eggs back under the hens and in due time it would hatch. Mom would sing or hum softly as she gathered the eggs to keep the hens calm and it really worked.
we kids got to deliver the eggs and collect the money
We sold those eggs to all our neighbors. Dad’s plan was working pretty well and we kids got to deliver the eggs and collect the money. We got a collie dog and named her Laddie (because she looked so much like Lassie) to bark and warn us if any foxes were around the chicken house. She was a good dog, but she did barked a lot. One of the neighbors that moved in said the dog’s barking was keeping him awake at night, so he took her off and shot her one night, we found out later.
We boys had ourselves a ‘clubhouse’
After a few years we quit selling eggs and I guess we finally ate all those chickens. My brothers cleaned and scrubbed out that old chicken house real good and made a swell two room cabin. We boys had ourselves a real nice ‘clubhouse’ and we would even sleep out in it in the summer time. I remember waking up one night and found my older brother and some friends were not there. Jack later told me they had slipped off in the night just to see what all happened while everyone else was supposedly sleepin’…
© 2010 SamSonS
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