The Chicken Man

For just a second, the older gentleman standing at the base of my front steps had to be wondering, “Is he gonna say something? Why is he just standing there?” 

I was just standing there because I couldn’t remember where to find the quote.  Argh, I hate it when that happens.  I’m in a situation, and I can’t remember the exact wording of the appropriate quote, and–even worse–I can’t remember where to find it. 

Okay, after you’re done reading this, if you’ve never read Billy Collins’ poem, “Forgetfulness,” check it out.  I’ve put the link at the bottom of this post.

Anyway, the quote.  I couldn’t remember the quote.  It’s in one of Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell books, and it’s spoken by Sherlock Holmes regarding Mary’s farm manager, Patrick.  Patrick, it seems, is not one to fuss, and Holmes believes not fussing to be one of the highest qualities a man can have.  Wow, it’s a good line, and I could have stood there for a long time and still not have found it.

The quote I couldn’t remember came to my mind (well, almost) because I was standing, rather impolitely I’m afraid, with a man who seemed to not fuss very much at all. 

Mr. Danny (“Just Danny,” he told me) had just put one of our roosters into a cage and was getting ready to leave with it.  No problems, and no fuss.  Danny is a chicken man.

We–my wife and I–have chickens in our back yard.  The flock is only 11 chickens, well, 10 now, and they’re all about six months old. We’ve had different flocks for about 12 years now, and enjoy them a lot.  We don’t eat them as I don’t think it’s worth cleaning up the mess of plucking and processing, but we do love their eggs.  And, we think they’re cool.

Normally, getting a new flock for us involves a trip to the feed mill to pick up chicks (lots of dad joke fodder there).  The chicks we usually buy are “sexed;” we know we’re getting young ladies.  Last fall, though, we decided to do something different and get some bantam chickens in addition to our common, full-sized birds.  Banties, though, are sold in what’s called a “straight run.”  That means you don’t know the gender of the birds you’re getting.  

By the way, there’s no charge here for the chicken lingo.

Not knowing the gender, well, that’s a bit of a gamble.  We did fairly well, or so we thought: it looked like we had all hens.

Then one of our chickens hit puberty.  Roosters really do sound funny as they’re learning to crow.  It’s more of a squawk to start out.  The little guy would give it his best, bless his heart, but he’s good now, as our neighbors can attest.

Then–oh, my gosh–another bird started picking on the rooster.  Okay, that was odd.  Why was she picking on the rooster?  Well, it’s because she was a little boy, too.  Two roosters.

The first rooster, Cruella (he got his name when we thought he was a girl–guess what color his feathers are) has worked out okay, but the second? Not so much.  Remember the “picking on the rooster” thing I mentioned?  He sort of transferred that attention to us, and, well, that’s not going to work.

Enter Danny, the chicken man.

I don’t know Danny at all, but my wife knows he’s the one to call if you’ve got birds that are ready to be passed on to a new home.  He buys and sells birds at the local flea market, and chickens are what he does.

So, after a brief phone exchange a few days earlier, he was at our house just after dark.  Chickens are easy to work with after they’ve roosted for the night, so Danny picked that little guy up from the roost, carried him to the front yard, and put him in the cage for the trip home.  No fuss at all.

That rooster (whose name, by the way, is Rooster…his original name faded away after we knew the deal) is a beautiful bird, and I don’t doubt it will be just a short time before he’s at a new home ruling his little corner of the farm yard.

—–

Here’s that poem.  It’s one of my favorites!  https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/37695/forgetfulness

21 thoughts on “The Chicken Man”

  1. You paint scenes so vividly with your words and as you so rightly say: “… there’s no charge here for the chicken lingo.” I learned lots from this slice and feel your frustration at not being able to come up with the right words at the right time, even when they are right on the edge of remembered. Thanks for introducing me to The Chicken Man, the lingo, and the poem!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Now I want chickens, Tim. We are doing a chicken STEM challenge today — design a something (that’s a very technical MIT engineering term if you weren’t familiar. No charge for the lingo, BTW!) to keep a stuffed animal (standing in for a chicken) warm and dry in the winter. I think you’d be a ringer!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What fun story! The chicken man reminded me of life in the country when my grandma and the neighbors would have a different “man” for different problems. Tree man…chicken man…septic man 🥺.

    I enjoyed the arc of the story and the details which were just enough to help me understand and not so much that I felt Wikipedia-ed. Just right. And heck, I learned stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tim! There has been an assortment of “_____ man” figures in my life as well, now that I think about it. The further away from the city one gets, the more that happens in my experience. I’m glad you enjoyed the slice!

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  4. I had NO IDEA you were a chicken keeper. You never cease to amaze me! You’ve taught me a lot today, Tim, including some new chicken facts that I can use to entertain everyone during Time to Write. Who knew?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A few years back my husband and I bought my parents home and it came with….chickens. Well, chickens and a couple of roosters. Whew! They are a handful! Anyway, the chicken man came for them and now we have peace. As you might be able to tell, I am not a fan of owning chickens, but I do miss the eggs!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My husband has always wanted chickens….and… fainting goats. I, on the other hand, have not. I do, however, enjoy reading about other people’s chicken escapades, such as yours with the chicken man and roosters. Who cleans the coop? You or Lisa? Or, together? I do think the fresh eggs would be a bonus, though. Love the humor in your piece! And, thanks for introducing me to Billy Collins. The poem was based on such truth!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fainting goats? No, I’ll pass on the goats! Lisa and I both take care of them, but she’s done most of that kind of thing lately. The eggs are wonderful–nothing like them in the stores (well, unless you pay a lot of money). If that was you actual initial exposure to Billy Collins, you’ve definitely got to read more of his stuff. He’s very popular because he’s very accessible. Humor, accessibility, and a moderate amount of depth–good stuff!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tim, It truly was my first exposure to Billy Collins. I have seen his name in other posts but your link made it so accessible, I was able to read the poem while it was on my mind. I’ll look for some more of his work!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The humor is what I enjoy. I want to spend the next hour putting together a reading list for you, but my project manager might not approve of that. (: That said, be sure to read “Marginalia” and “Workshop.” Those come to mind immediately.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. What a wonderful meandering set of diversions you’ve offered in this slice today, Tim. First there’s the wondering/wandering what and where that quote may have gone. There’s the chicken lingo, which – to me – was fascinating and, oddly, satisfying. Top it off with that Billy Collins poem (we could ALL use more Billy Collins poetry). It made me smile. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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