“Poultry (/ˌpoʊltriː/) are domesticated birds kept by humans for the eggs they produce, their meat, their feathers, or sometimes as pets. These birds are most typically members of the superorder Galloanserae (fowl), especially the order Galliformes (which includes chickens, quails and turkeys) and the family Anatidae, in order Anseriformes, commonly known as “waterfowl” and including domestic ducks and domestic geese. Poultry also includes other birds that are killed for their meat, such as the young of pigeons (known as squabs) but does not include similar wild birds hunted for sport or food and known as game. The word “poultry” comes from the French/Norman word poule, itself derived from the Latin word pullus, which means small animal.
The domestication of poultry took place several thousand years ago. This may have originally been as a result of people hatching and rearing young birds from eggs collected from the wild, but later involved keeping the birds permanently in captivity. Domesticated chickens may have been used for cockfighting at first and quail kept for their songs, but soon it was realised how useful it was having a captive-bred source of food. Selective breeding for fast growth, egg-laying ability, conformation, plumage and docility took place over the centuries, and modern breeds often look very different from their wild ancestors. Although some birds are still kept in small flocks in extensive systems, most birds available in the market today are reared in intensive commercial enterprises. Poultry is the second most widely eaten type of meat globally and, along with eggs, provides nutritionally beneficial food containing high-quality protein accompanied by a low proportion of fat.” – Wikipedia
Backyard Poultry – Naturally by Alanna Moore. With information on poultry behavior, management, breeds, breeding, housing, feeding, health, permaculture, egg production, and more.
The City Council of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, in their beneficent and all-knowing considerations, have formally and unanimously agreed to approve an ordinance that will allow town residents to keep backyard chickens. Well almost, because after a year and more of deliberations on this most troublesome bird, the final verdict will come down after a second reading at yet another council meeting later this month.
Who knew that chicken keeping was so complicated? Obviously not the keepers of the birds, who in some cases have done so for many years, without issue or complaint. One would not normally consider it an issue of front page news, nor see it so hotly debated. The times they are a changing, I suppose.
The law would allow for the possession of up to 6 hens for the production of eggs and meat, and would be allowed only on single family lots of a certain minimum size, in the older part of town. Chickens would not be allowed in most subdivisions, because they generally already have rules in place prohibiting the admission of livestock. Roosters would not be allowed in any part of the city.
Still, a year plus more seems like a long time to fully “vet” the full concerns and side issues of such a proposition. After all, how long does it take for the planning and zoning commission to make its recommendation, or to document the concerns of Colorado Parks And Wildlife regarding the impacts of urban chickens?
In this case the possibility of a citywide election was discussed, and they listened to the voices of concerned citizens, for and against. They heard the opinion and discussion from the Glenwood Springs Poultry Club, who started the ruckus in the first place. They discussed the proper penalties for non-compliance, which remain unclear. They put in place a provision for warnings to be issued in that event, which will no doubt occur. It was also mentioned that chicken keeping is considered a privilege, and not a right, and made it known that privileges can be revoked. Apparently, no one gathered testimony of the chickens, or asked for their counsel.
In the end, the ordinance allows in-city residents to obtain a permit, the cost of which will be based on an accounting of staff time involved. Chicken coops must be built to comply with certain codes and standards, and are subject to inspection. All coops must be equipped with electric fencing in an effort to deter bears, mountain lions, foxes, and otherwise hungry people. And you would not want to let the general public and its unsuspecting citizens get too close, lest they be attacked by an enraged and murderous chicken, desperate for escape.
So there you have it. Another shining example of government at it’s best, taking a perfectly innocent and hopeful endeavor and caging it in multiple layers of bureaucratic jargon and micro managed stupidity. Odds are, they really don’t know much about a chicken either.
It is, of course, all so perfectly planned. Control of the food supply is a classic strategy used to tame all common people for millenia. It is used to divide, threaten, and conquer. The game is all about inventory, and control. It is misdirection by application, and permit. Approval, and command. Compliance, or penalty. The issue just happens to be about poultry, this time.
As for those aforementioned penalties, I have a suggestion. Why go half way? Why bother to warn or coddle the violator to obtain compliance? Off to the stockade, I say, in irons, for good measure. Or better yet, let us yoke the neck and wrists to the pillory in the public square. We deserve its full effects of pain and humiliation for allowing such a travesty to proceed.
These types of decisions continue to occur in all parts of the country, and the world. It would be sadly funny, if it were not all so true. It will continue, until we stop it. The future of private property rights, and our personal liberty, depends on it.
While we hesitate, the smiling benefactors allow some small permissions, but in the end only they have won. The cuckholds and chicken people gain little, and grow weaker and more contained with each turn of the perpetual hamster wheel. Our resignation and powerlessness grow more obvious with each silent and roosterless morning.
It’s better for the rooster anyway. He is by nature a proud and brave-hearted creature, and prefers to retain his private parts, and his voice. Meanwhile, the founding fathers of America, many of whom were farmers themselves, weep big crocodile tears for the daftness of our deeds. They marvel at our apathy, and cry for our sins, for they know not what else to do.
See Also Permissions To Come, Or The Saga of The Backyard Chicken
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Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
It is a heady and perplexing question, to be sure. Like the classical philosophers of old, I do not have an acceptable answer, either. I’m not even going to try.
However, for more and more people across this land, a more appropriate and timely question has evolved. They now ask themselves if perhaps they should acquire some chickens, which could provide some tasty eggs for their morning breakfast. People are now looking at their backyards with fresh eyes, searching for a handy and level spot to erect that new chicken coop. Unfortunately, the next question becomes all to prominent and leaps to center stage. “Is it legal, they ask”? Now there’s a question! Again, it is also not so easy to answer in simple terms. This can of worms is large, and it holds more slithering things than your well-tended compost pile.
For lack of a better term, the backyard chicken movement is exploding across the country, much to the chagrin of local jurisdictions and the faceless bureaucratic machine. It is a suburban, and increasingly urban phenomena. Well informed citizens are demanding high quality, locally grown food. Imagine that! The local food movement continues to gain momentum, with more followers and practitioners every day. It’s a national issue now, and it is not going away anytime soon. But it starts on the local level, and chickens are a big part of it.
For example, the city council of a small town near me, recently voted to consider new draft code provisions relating to chickens within the city limits and residential neighborhoods. Apparently, it is currently illegal to keep a chicken. Who knew? Well, several of the residents who testified did not. They had been keeping chickens for years, without issue. No one had bothered to discuss it with them. For some unexplained reason, it was time to come out of the chicken closet. They now wished to tend to their birds legally, with favor, and approval.
The city council was quick to state that it was a land use matter, and as such, falls within their purview. It’s all about zoning, you see, and it’s not about how you live, but where you live. It’s all about proper consideration, and planning. It’s about rules and regulation, and lawful ordinance. It’s about monitoring and control, enforcement, and penalty. I don’t think the entire, sordid show is about chickens at all.
Typically, an ordinance relating to poultry keeping will determine how many hens you can have, and where and how you must keep them. The birds must be contained and quiet, the coops must be secure. The installation of electric fencing can be required. One must mitigate for noxious odor, and control predators. The birds cannot be allowed to roam free and spread disease, or attract a wandering skunk. Above all, the noisy and offensive rooster is not allowed. They might disturb the neighbors, and it is simply too much for the controlling mind of the clerk. On and on it goes.
I don’t fault our nearby chicken keepers for trying, in fact I applaud them. It’s a noble and just cause, and they have done their best to work along the only route available to them. It is the manner in which we fight that disturbs me. The documenting newspaper article talks of how the group promises to play by the rules. One person is quoted in saying, “I’m confident we will be 100 percent in compliance”. “Compliant”, says she? The article goes on discuss the good points of chicken raising, of how it can educate children as to where their food comes from, while having fun. It touts the economic benefit that could be brought to the revenue of the hardware supply and the gardening store. It balances these ideas against the potential downsides and complaints, and makes the case that perhaps it is not a foolish idea, after all. “Foolish”, indeed. Imagine the foolishness of someone with the audacity to supply their own food.
The residents of Denver, Colorado begged for their right to keep animals some time ago, and now they live under some of the most draconian laws imaginable. Their ordinances require a permit to keep poultry on property. A fee is demanded, and stipulations must be met and maintained. Once permitted, the property is subject to inspection and multiple visits by more than one controlling agency. They arrive when they wish, without appointment. The property must be properly posted, and the neighbors so notified. Permits are subject to renewal, at the government’s discretion, with annual fees. Violators will be prosecuted. Does this sound like some type of preposterous science fiction movie, or a town, or city, near you? We are talking chickens here, and not about some dangerous and toothsome creature from outer space.
I want to know who gained the authority to decide that the chicken limit stops at four, five, or six. When did they decide that? Was I asked to voice my humble opinion? What made it so important to come up with such a law? Were the parameters based on some well thought out scientific study, funded with the public dollar, and performed by some chicken police think tank? Has anyone considered that roosters are an important piece of the poultry puzzle? If I am not mistaken, they are a vital and necessary component of procreation, and life. Though infertile, a willing hen will bless you with the miracle of an egg without the help of a male. A rooster is required if you wish to replenish your flock. Is it new life, that they despise?
The message they wish to send is clear. How dare you think of enjoying a private egg or two, for yourselves, in peace? You are a criminal of the worst kind, guilty as charged until proven innocent. Your fine, and punishment, is what we say it is. And oh, by the way, the chickens now belong to us.
It is a proverbial, in your face case, of the foxes guarding not one, but all of the hen houses. I like foxes, and I would prefer to preserve their good name. The truth is, they are not foxes anyway, as that would be too tame a description. Bloody tongued wolves would be more like it, circling impatiently in the dark night, eager to blow your house down. The devil is always in the carefully crafted details of the hidden contract, and they administered and diverted our rights away many years ago.
Yet, the wheels are wobbling on the fatally damaged, corporate driven shopping cart. We are taking our chicken coops back, one backyard at a time. They know it, and they cannot allow it. They are desperate, and they grow more terrified every day. We know the truth, and can see the madness of their souls. They hold power over us because we empower them. We didn’t even show up for the fight.
My advice is uncomplicated. Don’t give it all up to them so easily. Refuse to grovel before the beast. It’s sad and pathetic, and it makes us look small. Compliance is not an option, and the monster’s cravings are insatiable. Do not give them the satisfaction of obtaining what they seek, nor allow them the sustaining succor of our fear.
It is time to bypass the lowly denizens of the city council, and their ilk. The time has come to dress down the petty and falsely officious policeman of your subdivisions, and expose the multitude of local tyrants and self-important snitches.
It is time to ignore the directives from the “authorities” on high, or the blather of the party line. They do not have our best interests in mind. If they did they would encourage and help, and not preclude or impede. It’s time to stop playing their dishonest game. Why should we? They don’t play fair, and they never have.
It is time to slip the chains of the oppressors, and throw them back at their flimsy facades. Take a stand, and stare the predator in the eye. Do something disobedient and bold, today. It’s been done before, many, many times. Our acts cannot be separated from the revolutionary history of the sleeping giant, the once free people of our United States.
Let us rise from our knees and stop asking for their permission. It is not their’s to give. It’s that simple. Go out and get a chicken or two, and perhaps a rooster to go with it. Let its morning crow announce to the world that you are awake, and ready. It all starts with a chicken and an egg, on the home grounds of an independent, proud, and defiant people.
“Let justice be done though the heavens should fall.” – John Adams
For a few years now I have been investigating the legal issues that relate to the rights of an individual to grow and sell meat, poultry, and other homegrown farm products directly to consumers. What would be the problem, you might ask? You can grow or raise, and sell, what you want to sell, right? We live in a free country, with free and open markets, do we not?
Well, not so fast. Being the rather cautious person that I am, I began some time ago to ask questions of people working in a long list of local, state, and federal government agencies that hold jurisdiction over the land, and of us. It has been a painful, core shaking inquiry that is not for the faint of heart. I have not enjoyed the experience.
I can discuss the actual laws and regulations pertaining to selling food later. What I can say now is that, with rare exception, I have confronted a nearly impenetrable wall of mind numbing and intimidating legalize, wrapped in doublespeak, and spouted gleefully by a largely incompetent army of no sayers and useful idiots. I hate to say it that way folks, but I have to call it like I see it.
Apparently, the government at all levels is an equal opportunity employer. I have been treated rudely and dismissively by condescending staff from the city level right up to the big ol’ federal government.
Typically, I’ve been told to call a certain department or agency. I’ve been told by that department to call another because they did not regulate this or that. I have called the referred department only to be instructed to call the department that just referred them. I’ve been put on hold so many times and for so long I don’t know if I can ever listen to bad music again. I’ve been disconnected while on hold, hung up on while talking with someone, given so many bad phone numbers, and forwarded to so many unrelated or defunct departments that I no longer know which agency to question.
More often than not, I’ve been given information that is incomplete, misleading, or completely incorrect. In many instances I have discovered information at a later date that I felt was deliberately withheld at the time. I have had to constantly reassess the nature and purpose of my original question, and to doggedly return to the trail, like a bloodhound casting for scent. I can assure you that the government’s left hand does not know what it’s right hand is up to. They don’t even know where the other hand is, except to be sure that it just picked your pocket. They didn’t even say thanks.
I was in a good mood when I started my inquiries. I was positive and full of hope about the possibilities of new ventures, new businesses, new relationships. That’s gone now, and I feel like the cat that has caught a mouthful of tail feathers and no bird. I am still hungry, unsatisfied and empty, left with a bad taste in my mouth that I find hard to spit out.
I can barely talk to someone now without shaking my fist at them in my mind’s eye. I want to scream at them and ask if they somehow managed to forget that hey, by the way, you work for me don’t you know…for us?
I was mocked by a county “authority” a few weeks back. During our conversation he laughed and said something like “You just didn’t know you were biting into an elephant did you? Ha, Ha, Ha!”. (I think there was an unspoken “did ya boy” in there somewhere).
No, I guess you did not know that you had bitten into an elephant. I am wounded. You have drawn first blood. Like Howard Beale’s famous speech in the movie “Network”, I am mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore. The pen is mightier than the sword, or so I’ve heard. I shall add my voice to the cry of raw milk and cheese producers, direct to consumer marketeers, small organic growers, home kitchen artisans, and the growing ragtag army of others’ similarly wronged.
This is not right. This will not stand. I hope more will join us. We shall see what part of the elephant you are, and what kind of elephant am I.
After all, I just wanted to sustainably grow and honestly market some healthy and nutritious food to other people of like mind. I wanted to feed my family from my private property and maybe generate some small income to help with a myriad of escalating expenses. I have been stopped at every turn, without recompense, nor quarter.
To deny a person’s right to sell the food one produces defies all common sense. So, I say, thank you for laughing, Mr. Bureaucrat – and calling me to action. It may not be wise to step between a wounded elephant and it’s children. The laws must be changed.
We will have food freedom.
*Has this happened to you?
I am currently collecting stories from farmers, food growers, and property owners about their experiences of a similar kind. Unfortunately, the horror stories have become more fiendish and pervasive, and all too common.
Care to share?
“No tyranny is so irksome as petty tyranny: the officious demands of policeman, government clerks, and electromechanical gadgets” – Edward Abbey.
“After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which he government is the shepherd”. – From “Democracy in America” by Alex De Tocqueville
The eagle, soaring over a farmer’s yard, swept and pounced on a cat, thinking it a rabbit. “In the air the cat seized her by the neck with her teeth and round her body with her fore and hind claws. The eagle finding herself scratched and pressed, bids the cat let go and fall down. No, says the cat. I won’t let go and fall. You shall stoop and set me down”. – John Adams
“To live outside the law, you must be honest”. – Bob Dylan
“Anarchism is not a romantic fable but the hard-headed realization, based on five thousand years of experience, that we cannot entrust the management of our lives to kings, priests, politicians, generals, and county commissioners”. – Edward Abbey
You might also like: Permissions To Come, The Gelded Rooster, and Farming and Food Tyranny in the Land of No.
You Might Also See Our Post About Gun control HERE
“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.” – From “1984″ by George Orwell.
“You take my life when you take the means whereby I live”. ——–William Shakespeare
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”. – Ephesians 6:12
“Logic is an enemy, and truth is a menace”. Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone TV Show; Closing monologue from “The Obsolete Man”.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. – Martin Luther King
“Any state, any entity, any ideology that fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of man, that state is obsolete” – Rod Serling
“In the United States big government and untold bureaucracies have been created and organized to manage and control the energies of the private sector. Now, more than ever, this paradigm must change. Business, and trade, no matter how small, must be returned to the control of its citizens. Business can and will be organized to minimize and control most any kind of bureaucracy. Was not that the intent of the Founding Fathers? It can begin again, in your backyard, and mine…”. – Michael Patrick McCarty
The state of New Jersey was nicknamed the garden state in 1876, apparently because it was so obviously filled with so many good things to eat. Later, it became famous for it’s truck farms, which supplied a wide variety of agricultural and dairy products to the large appetites of New York City and Philadelphia. It was still pretty farmy and rural in 1958, when I came along. This was especially true of the southern part of the state, where I grew up.
We moved into a wonderful old house when I was about four years old, on what had once been a working dairy farm on the edge of the Wharton State Forest, and the soon to be protected Pine Barrens. The previous farmers had long since moved away, and the property was sadly neglected and over run with brush and debris. I don’t think my parents thought it was all so wonderful, considering the great work at hand needed to make a proper home for my bothers and sister and I. But it was more than wonderful to me, a young boy with adventure, and nature, close at hand, and just outside the big farmhouse windows.
It was a big, big world to explore, and our immediate acreage kept me occupied through the change of several seasons. After all, our towering and decaying dairy barn was full of pigeons and starlings and rats, and unknown animal moanings. Cottontail rabbits bolted from behind nearly every brush pile, and if I was lucky and quiet I could find a deer under our apples trees in the back lot, late in the evening. Every day held the promise of some new momentous discovery, and I was eager to escape the watchful eye of my mother each morning.
We built forts and played army, hide and seek, and tag, and other games. We fabricated crude animal traps and sat for hours in waiting. I don’t believe we ever caught anything. We hung upside down from trees, and dared our fates. We chased lightning bugs in the early summer evenings, and put them in jars, and watched them light up. We giggled and laughed for the fun of it. Sometimes, we just laid on our backs in the tall green grass and counted big puffy clouds. We did what all kids do when left to roam free, and the hours melted into time and childhood memory.
My mother let us have our heads, with some rules, of course. The big rule was that we were not to leave our property, or play by the roads. That worked just fine for many months, as I had no desire to leave her protective cover or test her motherly patience. That is, until the day I did.
Across the road stood an ominous tangle of tall, matted grass, impenetrable bramble, and forbidding brush that stretched to the forseeable horizon. It was dark and scary looking, and I had been warned many times not to go in there. Still, it beckoned and called, and I began to stare at it, and study. What was in there, I wondered? It begged to be investigated, and conquered.
I remember disappearing into there with another friend, one big, summer day. We steeled ourselves on the edge of the abyss, and dove in. We planned to stay together, for moral support, and of course immediately lost track of one another. I called a time or two with no result. My fear rose in my throat, and I wanted to spin around and jump back out. But my curiosity was stronger, and after some deep quick breaths I continued on, to face whatever lurked ahead.
Another step, and I was totally lost in a magical world of new life and unknown creatures. Any thought of time or past concerns receded into the hot and sticky air, and the sweat poured out of me and stung my eyes as I tried to take it all in. Insects buzzed in my ears. Small birds of all shapes and colors flitted all around me as I worked my way through the brush, and small things scurried in the leaves. Catbirds and mockingbirds called incessantly, pulling me on. A bobwhite quail flushed at my feet, disappearing through some unseen window into the open sky. There were so many birds it was impossible to see them all. Bluejays and meadowlarks called just ahead. Everywhere was birdsong and animal noises, so loud it was nearly deafening. I could not get enough. I had to hear and see it all. Nothing could stop me.
Still, fear was at the edge and began to pick at my adventure. Big black and yellow garden spiders hung in wide, embracing webs, and made me pause. Branches whipped my face and stung me silly. I tripped a few times and fell down. At times it was so thick I had to drop to my belly and slither like a snake. I hoped that I did not meet a real reptile, face to face, at least not then. Once, I became entangled in clawing vines so thick and sharp I began to panic and cry, as small spots of blood appeared on my skin. I wondered what in the world I had gotten myself into, and if I would ever be able to get back home. I thought of my mother, and what she would do if she knew I was here. Where was she? What had I done? Why had I left my house?
I freed myself from the briars and made one last push forward. I saw a clearing just ahead, and my excitement and sense of adventure returned instantly. I was fearless. I was brave, and I had won. A few more steps and I was clear of it, as I knelt to brush spider webs from my hands and pull leaves and prickly stickers from my collar.
I rubbed the sweat from my nose, then stood, and looked ahead. I could not believe my eyes, and the breath left me all at once! I gasped like a goldfish plucked from his bowl for the first time, with no past experience to cushion the shock of it. I had been transported to some other special place, in fact some other planet in a galaxy far, far away. It was the beauty of it all that grabbed me. It reached in and shook me, all the way to my toes.
Chickens of all shapes, and colors of the rainbow scratched gloriously in the yellow glow of the late morning sun. An iridescent rooster strutted about his hens, head high, and watching. Some bright, white ducks waddled across the yard heading for who knows where. A big blue peacock unfolded his massive tail and danced, in front of a hutch filled with giant, splotchy rabbits. Sparrows chirped and hopped about, no doubt looking for waste grain in the dirt. I saw a small pony in a stall in the shade of a big maple tree.
My feet could not move, nor did they want to. I knew I had stumbled upon an undiscovered country of limitless bounty. I stared at the dilapidated, drafty barn and the irregular lines of an old ramshackle house. Strange smells hung in the breeze, and the pIace had a feel all of it’s own. It was all so new that I had nothing in my small experience to compare it to. My mind struggled as it downloaded massive amounts of new data, racing to correlate and associate each new piece of information.
The place had the look and feel of a broken down but comfortable pair of old work boots.The buildings and yard had no doubt been hacked from brush like I had just come from, and was now losing the unending battle and melding back into nature’s turmoil. Vines and small trees grew under and through old farm machinery and scrap. Farm sheds were starting to list and fall, with sagging doorways and slipped siding.
Still, every aspect of this eternal homestead bursted with sound and smell, and life. I was mesmerized. I wanted to know what was behind the next outbuilding, and explore every nook and cranny of that place. I wanted to become part of it, and maybe stay there forever. Or wrap it all up, with all it’s parts and pieces, and take it home. It was part of me, already.
Emboldened now, I took a step, and it all changed in a big hurry. Just one step, and the big rooster spied me and let out a warning cackle. He clucked to his hens as he gathered them up, and steered them towards their coop. A cow bellowed from the deep shadows of the barn, as a small herd of kittens stopped their shadow boxing with each other and turned my way. Morning doves stopped cooing from the tops of the huge oak trees above us. I heard a goose let loose, honking loudly from the back of the barn, followed by the strange and stuttering exclamations of some spotted guinea hens as they lept for the trees.
Everywhere I looked was some animal head peeking from in and around countless hiding spots. They had me dead to rights, as if some great spotlight caught me in midstride and lit me up for all the world to see.
I heard a small dog yap, and then a screen door slam, as I saw her. On the barn side of the house stood a large, plump women, with an ample bossum, held in threadbare cloths. She stared ahead from across the barnyard, framed by the vibrant green of tall cornstalks with yellow tassles. She was middle-aged or more, matronly, and perhaps a little near-sighted as she searched for the cause of the commotion in her barnyard. Something was amiss, and she would find out what it was.
She knew the sounds and tone of her world on a normal morning. It was etched within her consciousness, and any change was as obvious to her as a brass marching band in her living room. There was a disturbance in the field and fabric of their existence, and an intruder in their midst. They were tightly connected, one and all, communicating perfectly through various and mysterious means.
The little terrier growled and shook, as it glared at me from between the safety of her stout legs. She wrang her hands on a dish towel as she methodically assessed the situation. Still as a statue, I hung with one foot in the air and waited.
apparently, I was not too hard to find. No doubt she just looked where every other animal in the world was staring until she found me. I remember seeing her see me, as a bit of surprise, and annoyance appeared on her face. I have no way of knowing what she thought, but I am sure I was not what she expected to find.
My exhilaration and thrill of discovery had instantly vanished, and I remember feeling that I had somehow violated her space in a way most painful. I was a varmint, an uninvited party crasher, a barbarian at the gate. This was her kingdom, and I was far past the edge of my realm. At any rate, I had already exhausted my supply of courage. It was all too much for a young boy on his first expedition from home.
Before she could move or even say a word, I broke and took off like a cannon-shot into the world from which I came. I charged like the fox ahead of the hounds, and I scared the bejeebers out of a lot of birds and little creatures as I crashed headlong through the heavy understory. I don’t remember much about the journey, except that I completed the return trip a lot faster than the first one, and some skin was lost in the process. It took some band aids and a lot of hydrogen peroxide, together with some tender loving care from my mother, to make things right again.
I don’t think I ever told her about my true adventure or the woman in the barnyard. At the time it was far to big to capture and explain within the limited vocabulary of my youth. But, like all mothers, she already knew that I had been somewhere that I should not have been, yet had to be. It was a boy’s adventure, and mine to own, and hold. It is still there, when I need it.
I never did see the woman again. By the time I was old enough to freely wander the neighborhood, she was gone and her farm abandoned like so many across the south of Jersey. I never knew what became of her. I only knew that she was gone, and that somehow a way of life had vanished along with her.
I can still see her standing there in that place, with her animals all around. I wish I could talk to her and come to know a little of her life. I would like to know how long she had lived there, and if she had found herself alone as the homestead fell down around her. If I could, I would ask her if she had raised a family there, and where they had gone. I would ask her if she had raised a young boy or two of her own, and if they had brought her contentment then, and later, in her old age.
Most of all, I would apologize for my intrusion and hope it was not too much of a burden to bear. I would love to explain to her how she has stuck in my mind, and that I have not forgotten her.
Looking back, I wish things remained as simple and true as the bond between a mother hen and her chicks, or a mother and her boy. It would be grand if life was as safe and protective as an undisturbed barnyard, and as comforting as a farm at peace. I think I have hunted and searched for her barnyard ever since.
I will find it one day, somehow. I hope a small, wild child of a boy is just around the corner, and he will find it too.