Guest post by Chuck Hagi
Needless to say, this was a shock to me. When I started school in a small rural Wisconsin school, I felt like a fish out of water. The kids here were into hunting and fishing and most were farm kids! Oh, how I longed to hang out with my friends back in the neighborhood. School was not my only problem. It seems my parents now wanted to start a hobby farm and raise chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, pigs, goats, rabbits and even a cow.
Although my parents said “they” wanted all these animals it was us kids that ended up doing all the work. My parents said it would be good for us to get more connected with the land. Oh yeah. That meant putting on the boots and standing ankle deep in pig dung with a pitchfork every weekend. Needless to say, this was not the type of “fun” I was used to.
I can recall conversations with my sibling telling them the day I was old enough I would leave this God forsaken life and move back to the neighborhood. I was the youngest of five kids. One by one my brother and sisters grew up got married and moved out. Leaving me with all the work of tending to the animals. Each fall we would butcher off the animals that were fully grown. Each spring we would get a new batch of animals. As the years rolled by we kept fewer and fewer animals. I am not sure if it was because the family was smaller or if it was due to the fact my parents didn’t want to keep them any longer.
One spring when buying the spring chickens I asked my father if we could buy bantam chickens. His reply was “Why? They are too small to eat. They aren’t good layers and the few eggs they do lay are so small.” I said I just liked to watch them. I told him they were small so they wouldn’t eat much either. Unlike my sibling, I did not have a pet of my own so I used that as an argument to keep them as well. My dad was a very practical man so he was reluctant but he caved in and bought me a few with the normal batch of meat and egg chickens we regularly kept.
This is when I became addicted. I would hold the chicks and pet them. I even named them. This drove my father wild. He said, “It is going to be hard to butcher those this fall if you name them”. What? These weren’t chickens. They were my pets! He did allow me to keep a few as pets but the rest would have to go.
The years flew by and I went off to college and started a family of my own. I never was able to keep chickens until recently. Now I couldn’t imagine not having chickens around.