Snakes in the Henhouse

Favorite chores included feeding chickens and gathering eggs, until a possible sighting of snakes in the henhouse.


| September/October 2014



Little Girl Feeding Chickens

Linda feeding the chickens at her grandparents' farm.

Photo courtesy Linda Allen

Summers on my grandparents’ farm near Drummond, Oklahoma, were a childhood delight for this city girl. Those were the days before television consumed our time and attention. My days were filled with simple outside play: swinging high under the old elm tree in a swing fashioned from an old tractor tire; building sand villages and “baking” sand cookies in a sandbox also created from a recycled tire; and sliding down the cellar door — even more fun when sprinkling water on it increased the downhill speed. Walking down the country road that fronted my grandparents’ house became a daily treasure hunt to discover the mysteries of nature like flowers, bugs, rocks, leaves and animal prints.

Not all was play though. Grandma made sure I had chores to do. Many chores were more fun and play than work, and much more interesting than city-girl chores. I kept busy helping my grandmother in the garden and kitchen, I fed the tribe of cats that populated the farm, and I helped my granddad milk the cows.

My favorite chores were feeding the chickens and gathering eggs. Black-and-white photographs show my childhood glee in scattering chicken feed surrounded by a flock of contented hens busily pecking and clucking at my feet. Perhaps it was a sense of power or control that made this so attractive. I was queen of the farm. All animals shorter than me were at my command.

Even more fun was gathering eggs. Maybe the prospect of finding a treasure was what attracted my attention, even though I knew what was in each nest.

Grandma would send me out with my basket, cautioning me to be careful not to break the eggs. For a long time, I happily and casually gathered the eggs from their nesting boxes, nestling them carefully in the basket. I always took time to chat with my hen friends in the henhouse.

All was fun — until I heard the word “snakes.” One day, my grandmother nonchalantly said, “You should probably be careful about snakes in the henhouse and maybe in the nests.”





mother earth news fair

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Feb. 17-18, 2018
Belton, Texas

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!

LEARN MORE