Thursday, March 25, 2010


Two Chicken Trilogies: Part 3 of 3

The Boys’ Club
Part 3 of 3
by C. Hope Clark
High Hope for the Freelance Writer

“Split them up,” I said as I listened to chicken bodies banging the side of the box. “Those roosters are stirring trouble again.”
Our brooder box had once seemed immense to our twenty chicks. Eight weeks later they could barely move, and five roosters had each decided he was the bird in charge. We hadn’t ordered the males, but the company had thrown them in as extra. Now we had two boxes of chickens in the garage.

Our neighbors owned small flocks, each with an established rooster. That left Martin, a local landscaper who had a 50-bird flock. He said he’d take the boys. But Martin’s chickens often went in the freezer.

“Let me think about it,” I told my husband.

“Most chickens go in a stew pot sooner or later, hon.”
I pulled out a large dog pen, bought another waterer, and moved the four largest guys to a new temporary home. The fifth, the runt of the guys, won the fifteen-hen harem. I figured he’d be less aggressive.

A month later, the main flock moved outside to the coop. My boys remained in the garage, the largest one greeting me each morning with a vigorous cock-a-doodle-doo. “When you want me to call Martin?” my husband asked. “Those birds are spreading dust everywhere.”

“Not yet,” I said as I hand-fed the rat-pack cracked corn. I scratched one under his wing as another vied for my attention, wanting his chest rubbed. “Maybe not ever,” I whispered as the beige one hopped on the open door of the cage, asking to be held. “Nobody turns my birds into dinner, do they, Boy?”

Four little heads cocked to the side in unison, knowing exactly what I meant.
The Chicken Trilogy
Part 3 of 3
by Cynthia Briggs
Author of: Pork Chops & Applesauce and Sweet Apple Temptations
Read more about Cynthia's books by clicking here:

Sweet Understanding
Part 3 of 3

It was in the spring of 1943, and 6-year old Bobbi peeked through the wooden slats of the back yard gate. She crossed her legs and wiggled. The outhouse was in clear view.

“Where’s Felicity? That mean old chicken!” Bobbi muttered.

Tiny and petite for her years, Bobbi felt utterly defenseless against the cranky bird. Didn’t the chicken understand that when nature called she had to walk the path to the outhouse?

Bobbi was puzzled because Mommy, Daddy, Grandma or Grandpa wouldn’t help her. They just kept saying, “Honey, you’ve got to learn to defend yourself!”

Bobbi made every effort to avoid Felicity. She’d watch closely, from inside the gate to make sure the chicken wasn’t in sight, then with her eyes fixed on the outhouse door, she’d quickly open the gate and make a run for the privy. The bird would suddenly jump from behind a nearby woodpile batting Bobbi with her swift wings.

Bobbi thought perhaps the gate noise was alerting the insensitive creature. So, she left the gate standing open and patiently waited for signs of Felicity. With the chicken out of sight and a clear footpath, Bobbi sprinted up the trail, only to be blocked again by the persistent fowl! Then there were times when the sly bird would let Bobbi go to the outhouse only to ambush her upon the return trip.

“Does Felicity ever sleep?” Bobbi wondered. Morning, noon and night the crotchety fowl menaced her. In Bobbi’s more desperate moments, with no hope of eluding the chicken, Bobbi resorted to squatting in the yard, only to be caught and scolded by her mother. Consequently, trying to out-wait the bird didn’t work either. Her guess was that the hen’s bladder was bigger, better and stronger.

“Bobbi, you’ve got to show the chicken who’s boss.” Dad reminded her. “Stand up for yourself. No one else is going to.”

“But, Daddy, I’m afraid of her!” Bobbi cried hopelessly.

The old bird continued to get the best of Bobbi. And to make matters worse all the grownups were on the chicken’s side!

One morning Bobbi woke up feeling grumpy. She was fed-up with having to grapple with the chicken.

“Leave me alone, I have to go potty!” Bobbi barked at her mother as she marched outside. Her blond curls bounced off her shoulders and her short, determined legs carried her toward the outdoor facilities.

Predictably, Felicity leaped from behind a bale of straw. She lunged at Bobbi and arched her neck, threatening Bobbi with her sharp beak.

At that moment something snapped in Bobbi. The chicken had bullied her for the last time.
With her hands on her hips, she bent down and faced the chicken head-on. Bobbi waved her arms and hands in a mad frenzy and bellowed like a banshee as she squared-off, nose to beak, with the flabbergasted hen.

“Squawk! Squawk! Squawk!” Felicity protested. A scuffle ensued. Needless to say, thereafter, Felicity gave Bobbi a wide path, including the one to the outhouse.

Bobbi learned the importance of sticking up for herself. She also discovered the benefits of coming to a sweet understanding with someone who has a sour disposition.

Sweet & Sour Chicken
1 fryer, cutup or 6 chicken breasts
1-8 ounce bottle Russian or Catalina Salad Dressing
1 package onion soup mix, dry
8 ounces orange marmalade

Mix salad dressing, onion soup mix and marmalade together in a medium size bowl. Pour mixture over chicken that has been placed in a rectangular baking pan. Bake; uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes. Yield: 4-5 servings with a rice accompaniment.

Coming in April: Springtime Desserts and Salads

Friday, March 5, 2010


Two Chicken Trilogies: Part 2 of 3

Chicken Math
Part 2 of 3
by C. Hope Clark
High Hope for the Freelance Writer

“Eight hens is enough,” I said to my husband. “That’s four or five eggs a day.”
“Barred Rock? Leghorns? What breed do we want?” he mumbled, his nose all but pressed against the computer screen.

The coop was almost ready. The breeder down the road only had Rhode Island Reds, and I knew that type bird to be scrappy. “Docile,” I said. “You decide. Just make sure they’re sweet. I want them to sit on my knee and eat out of my hand.” We wanted eggs, but I raised pets, not just farm products. “Oh, and no roosters.”

“You discriminating?”

“No. Last thing I need is Mrs. Harvey next door fussing about the daybreak crowing.”
Twenty minutes later, he logged off the computer. “Done,” he said.

“What’d you get?”

“Let’s see . . . I ordered three Barred Plymouth Rock, three Buff Orpingtons, three Gold Wyandotte, three Silver Wyandotte, and three Dominiques. All laid back varieties.”

I counted. Three, six, nine . . . “You ordered fifteen birds? That’s five dozen eggs a week!”

“I couldn’t decide. Some don’t make it anyway, hon. But they’re all female,” he said with a wink. “Just like you said.”

I couldn’t wait. Days later at six A.M., the post office called with our two-day-old pullets. I rode home with the small, cardboard box in my lap, the heater on for the birds, sweat beading on my temple. I freed the shipping paper off the top and read as my husband drove. “Oh no,” I said.

“They all right?” my husband asked.

“Oh, they’re all fine,” I said as I counted twenty teeny-weeny bodies. “Free males included for warmth” was stamped bold across the receipt. And they were all so dang cute. Thank heavens I’d only wanted eight. If I’d said fifteen, he’d have ordered thirty.
“The Chicken Trilogy”
Part 2 of 3
by Cynthia Briggs
Author of:
Pork Chops & Applesauce and
Sweet Apple Temptations
Read more about Cynthia's books by clicking here:

Chicken Rustlers Sometimes Eat Crow

“Betty, here’s my recipe for oven fried chicken that you wanted. Speaking of chicken, are those your chickens running around loose in my back yard?” Lucille said to her neighbor as she slipped the recipe in her pocket and hastened toward the sliding door to get a better look.

“No, that can’t be. We clipped their wings and repaired the chicken yard fence yesterday.”
Betty wiped the steam from the glass and peered outside into the darkness. The rain was pelting down in heavy torrents. Lucille’s back yard had become a pool of wet grass. A flurry of Rhode Island Red hens were scurrying about the yard, flapping their water soaked wings against drenching rain. “Oh my gosh! My hens are loose! We’ve got to get them back into a dry pen before they catch pneumonia.”

Lucille quickly followed Betty out into the weather to corral the feathered escapees.

“Here, Lucille, these salmon fishing nets will make catching them much easier.” Betty shouted as she shoved a huge net in Lucille’s direction.

Betty and Lucille chased the squawking hens through several neighboring yards. The hens noisily dodged swooping nets as the two determined women splashed their way down the normally quiet rural street.

The overly excited birds bolted through an overgrown cow pasture where Betty slipped and rolled across the grass and Lucille slid into a puddle of muck netting a fence post instead of a hen. Customers at a nearby Arco Mini-Mart watched in disbelief as the net carrying duo chased the fluttering flock past the gas pumps and then disappeared into the squall.

“Enough is enough!” Betty told Lucille. “Let’s go back home and get dried out. Look at us! We’re soaked. Those birds have no intention of being rounded up tonight.”

“You won’t get an argument out of me. But before we change our clothes, let’s check the chicken coop and see how they managed to get out.”

Lucille added with a chuckle. “Maybe we’ll get lucky and some of them went back to the pen on their own. Then we won’t be going back completely empty-handed.”

Betty’s eyes were flat. She was too tired, wet, muddy and frustrated to find any humor in the situation.

There were no visible signs of damage to the outer fencing around the chicken yard. Other than being soaked from the downpour, everything appeared to be in its normal place. How did the chickens escape?

Betty opened the hen house door. A single light bulb swayed gently which made it possible for them to see inside the room. Lucille peeked over Betty’s shoulder.

The hens were all huddled together on their roost. The room was dry, warm and undisturbed. They had been in bed for the night and safe from the storm since dusk.

The chickens looked up at the two astonished women and clucked, as if to ask, “What do you want at this time of the night?”

“Betty, we’re chicken rustlers!” Lucille shrieked. “The chickens we were trying to net must belong to Mr. Brown who lives down by the school.”

“I feel so stupid,” Betty replied. She was embarrassed but glad to know her chickens were safe.

Lucille pulled a dripping wet recipe out of her pocket and handed it to Betty. “Why don’t you go home and try this chicken recipe…it’s better than eating crow!”

Lucille's Easy Oven Fried Chicken
1 Frying Chicken, cut-up
1 cube margarine
2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon pepper, freshly ground

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put the margarine cube in a large, aluminum foil lined, baking pan with sides (I use a heavier-weight jellyroll pan). Place the pan in the oven so the butter will melt and cover the bottom of the pan. Rinse the chicken pieces and dry thoroughly on paper towels.

In a separate bowl combine flour, paprika, salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour mixture. Shake excess flour from the coated chicken pieces and place them in the melted butter. For best results, arrange the chicken so it’s not scrunched together in the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes. Turn chicken and bake for another 30 minutes. If needed, continue baking and turning the chicken (in 10 minute intervals) to achieve desired crispness.
Yield: 4-5 servings

Served with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob this dinner screams comfort food! Lucille's Oven Fried Chicken recipe is the simplest way I've ever found to make fried chicken with no standing over a hot stove. Additionally, it's probably lower in calories than traditional chicken fried in grease. Chicken pieces come out of the oven crunchy on the outside, moist and juicy on the inside. Enjoy!
Coming in April: Part 3 of the Two Chicken Trilogies