Friday, November 30, 2012

Big Red - Gerry, 68

When I was a child, we had an extra plot of ground on which stood a large chicken coop that my father had built.  This was our hen house.  We had fifty or so hens at a time.

Dad sold eggs, and one of my jobs from a young age on was to candle the eggs, sort, and size them for our egg customers. 

We had an old Breakfast Cheer Coffee can with a light bulb in it to see inside the shell of the egg to be sure it was customer-worthy.  Amongst the fifty hens, we had a Long Island Red.  My older sister Marian's pet, whom she named Big Red.  Big Red was a sight to behold.  She was beautiful.  She had the deepest, shiniest, red feathers ever seen.  There was no denying she was special. 

But she was also my enemy.  Marian had trained her to attack me on command.

Marian thought this was funny.  I believe, her being six years older than me, it was her way of getting even with me for tattle-taling on her, which I admit I had gotten pretty good at by the age of five or six!

I will never forget the fear that was instilled in me when that large red creature would appear, seemingly out of nowhere, my sister at her side, yelling, "Sic her, Red!  Sic her!"

Running as fast as her scrawny legs could carry her, she flapped her huge feathered wings while screeching at the top of her lungs.  As fast as a lightning bolt, she sprinted in short flights between running.  I ran as fast as my short small legs could carry me, my heart pounding as if it was going to jump out of my chest.  Big Red as in fast pursuit.

No matter how I tried, I was no match for that hen.  She always managed to hen peck me by the time I got to the hedges that lined our yard.  Then I felt the pain of her sharp beak pecking furiously at my thighs and buttocks.  When she was finished, Big Red would proudly strut about the yard, clucking loudly as if to praise herself for a job well done, while I was left to nurse my bruised butt and also my ego!

This occurred several times a week.

Eventually and unexpectedly, one Sunday my mother appeared in the dining room doorway with a large platter which held a beautiful roasted chicken.  My sister knew immediately because of its size, broke into tears, and rant to her room.  Yes, dinner that Sunday was Big Red.

Today when I look back on that time, I feel guilty, but I have to admit that was the most enjoyable meal of my childhood!

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