Monday, July 24, 2017

Pluck, pluck, oops

Two little girls crouched down on the floor of the little chicken coop. Dad placed the big box down between them. The box vibrated with movement and sound. One by one the little girls poked the perforated holes out of the sides of the box. No sooner had the cardboard disc dropped that a little beak popped through the hole. Dad removed the lid and allowed his two little companions to remove the little fuzzy chicks.

"Mom and Dad left on vacation for a week, so I decided to bring some friends to the farm for my vacation as well," said June. It was a great plan except for one 'little' glitch. June and friends were responsible to take in the chickens to be permanently put to sleep (sounds much better than slaughtered). The girls loaded three crates containing ten birds in each into the back of the truck and headed to Greenville. The next day they picked up said birds who returned to the farm in an unlively state.

Now, thirty chickens are a lot of birds, so as ordered, some chickens were taken to Cousin Betty Johnson, a few to another neighbor and six to Lena Linder. Oops, Lena had just broken her arm and could not take the said lifeless fowl. June and friends ended up with twelve chickens to clean, cut up and then freeze.

The Loxley girls have never been known for their skills in the kitchen, since Mom never allowed us to cook or to help with food preparation. Of the three of us, June was the most inept in the ways of the kitchen and that of plucking and cutting up the creatures that once lived across the yard. Hence, with all the skills the three girls could muster, they plucked then cut up the chickens. (I'm sure Mom had never seen chickens cut in such a way as an art teacher might severe them.)

It was a good thing that those little girls who held those fuzzy little chicks in their hands, rubbing soft fuzz against their cheeks had no idea of the future of the chicks. It was rather like the rabbits we raised and took to town. Better not to know.

By the way, after June and her friends eliminated plucking chickens off the list, they were faced with wallpapering the master bedroom. Ah, sweet vacation.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Just nosing around

Sense of smell. Ah, I love the smell of summer flowers. The blooming magnolia, sweet roses, jasmine with its heady perfume. This nose that has gotten me into plenty of trouble in my lifetime is delighting in the essence of summer. The smell of the ocean or of rain on a breeze.

Of course, this nose picks up smells not always so pleasing. We farm kids know those well. But the smell of the fair with the mixture of horse, cow, pigs, waffles and people all blend into a nasal delight.

Funny thing about this nose, that appendage I can only see if I cross my eyes and look down. It seems to be very closely attached to that part of the brain that holds onto memory. Of course, the older I get, the more difficult it is to connect with things in that part of my brain. Memories should be cataloged as in a library so you can pull up information by quick reference. I find I get lost in the rows and rows of memories, trying to remember where I left my keys. But, getting back to the matter at hand, I often find that I do not need a reference to find something in that maze. Smell is enough.

I can smell a field of fresh cut hay in my sleep. That rich smell that reminds me of cows and tractors. Of bails tossed upon a wagon. Of hay tossed to my horse and the cows. Close your eyes. See, you can smell it, too. Once in awhile I can smell my dad. I guess that sounds funny, but Dad had that sweet smell of hay and grain that often followed him around. Sometimes it was Old Spice. Sometimes it was sweat and motor oil, cows and tractors.

I love hugging my family, taking in the scents of them. The twins are regularly insisting that I smell their little toes. I must say, they are smelly. I memorize all the smells of them. I add them to my brain library. I remember the smells of my dogs. That smell of puppy paws and a sleeping pup curled against me.

The sense of smell is truly a gift. It whets the appetite and helps us put on a few pounds. It draws us to beauty and warns us of fear and of fire. It gives us flashes of the past and captures memories for the future.

With eyes crossed, I just looked down at that nose of mine. It certainly looks different from the top than it does in a mirror. I'm wondering how I could write an entire column on that appendage. Then, I smile and remember the smell of baby lambs. Ah, sweet nose, I celebrate you today!