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The Old Chicken House

Updated on October 27, 2013

Reflections of my childhood...

There was just one acre of land. Not really enough to support any cattle, but it was large enough to support a couple hogs and some chickens plus a family of six in a four-room house. Yea, we lived almost a mile outside of town, but the city limits were sure to move and incorporate our home and property in just a couple of years. “We better take it,” my folks said and they committed themselves to a new home for themselves and us four kids.

"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.

chickens everywhere
chickens everywhere

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


Submit a Comment

  • samsons1 profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Tennessee

    thanks again Polly, sounds like we had some similarities in our lives...

  • Pollyannalana profile image


    8 years ago from US

    My mom and dad had pigs, chickens and apparently a cow since I remember dad shooting a calf but this was up until I was about 5 yrs old and I always wanted to farm all my life but it never happened. We moved and my dad had a night shift job he worked until he retired. I was amazed about the egg your mom could look at for a chick inside, I have never heard that before.

  • samsons1 profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Tennessee

    thanks 50, always good to see you...

  • 50 Caliber profile image

    50 Caliber 

    8 years ago from Arizona

    Nothing like down home, 50, voted up

  • samsons1 profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Tennessee

    Hey, your right Dave- sadly the simpler times were replaced with a much faster society that often times today care only about themselves, with little or no thought of others...

  • Dave Mathews profile image

    Dave Mathews 

    8 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

    What a shame to give up such a lucrative little business. With eggs today selling at over $2./doz., if you had grown and expanded, you cold have a tidy little sum by now.


  • samsons1 profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Tennessee

    thanks for your gracious remarks...

  • lifegate profile image

    William Kovacic 

    8 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

    Samsons, Thanks for a walk down memory lane. You're a joy to read.

  • samsons1 profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Tennessee

    Hi Judy, always glad to hear from you. You talk the way I do. Think maybe we've experience many like situations. Blessings to you my dear friend...

  • Judicastro profile image


    8 years ago from birmingham, Alabama

    Hi Samson I had to come and see what was happening on your side of the hub. Sweet memories. Hate that about your dog though, my moms dog was poisoned by a neighbor because he thought king was going after his chickens, which he wasn't. Broke her heart. She refused to have a dog because of that for years until I came along and begged for one.

    Always love the walk with ya!

  • samsons1 profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Tennessee

    *thanks bayoulady, for your reflections...

    *and thank you Pam for your remarks...

    life is certainly better now for us all--

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    I think a lot of people grew up exactly like you and they made do with what that had. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • bayoulady profile image


    8 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

    When I was kid,we were poor ,too, but we lived in a brand new house with two new cars sitting in the driveway!I think noadays it's called being house poor. WE could only afford meat on the weekend! But we had a very varied menu. yep.

    We had beans and cornbread, but you can imagine the joy as the next day , we would have cornbread and beans. Another day we might have peas and biscuits OR biscuits and peas!Then there was taters and gravy, or even gravy and taters.(And I'm not lying...Mama made up this joke about it!)You had chickens and eggs...lucky you!HA!

  • samsons1 profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Tennessee

    thanks dahoblund, for your response and views...

  • dahoglund profile image

    Don A. Hoglund 

    8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

    Nice reminisce. I had an uncle who raised chickens in Minneapolis back in the 1940's. It still seems amazing that folks could do that in the city. I suppose because of the food shortages in WWII i was allowed.


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