Chickens in my future


The always beautiful and forever talented and always delightfully entertaining Sarah Thebarge came for a visit during Umatilla County Fair week. So, of course, I had to take her to the fair.

Our first stop was the exhibition hall, where we marveled over the handiwork of 4-H students. I told Sarah  how I attended a 4-H meeting once when I was growing up in Georgia. It didn’t take me long to figure out that 4-H wouldn’t be a good fit for a girl living in a trailer perched on cinder blocks. Nowhere to raise pigs or sheep or chickens, for that matter. And there was no way Mama was going to oversee any sewing or baking project. So I never went back.

Pigs, I learned, this week are a  pretty good money maker during fair week. They are apparently easy to raise and bring a good price at market. If this next book doesn’t sell as well as I hope, I may give up this writing gig, adopt a 12-year-old who wants to be a member of 4-H, and get a herd of swine.

Sarah and I met several years ago when she up and moved across country from New Haven to Portland. She’s one of my favorite writers. If you have not yet read her memoir – The Invisible Girls — go get it and read it. You will thank me later. It is a powerful, unforgettable story.

Of course, being the word-nerds that we are, Sarah and I had a good chuckle over the Vietnamese “SprinRolls”.

We moseyed our way through the fair grounds, stopping to see an entertainer put a spinning ball on the head of a young boy, and to take in a bit of the steer auction. Sarah marveled over how the auctioneer knew who was actually doing the bidding since animal auctions are not done the Sotheby’s way around here. There is no raising of placards with numbers but a slight nod of the head or subtle lift of the hand.

From there we ventured out to judge the small animals for ourselves. I was taken with the championship rooster because ever since writing Mother of Rain, I’ve developed this fascination with chickens. You’ll understand once you read the book.

This particular fellow reminded me ever so much of the personality of Rock Rooster, featured in Mother of Rain.

Sarah and I were in agreement that the very best part of the fair was running into Emma and Mr. Muffin. (Don’t you just love that Emma has taken care to accessorize with a shoulder bag?)

When we first happened upon Emma she was holding Mr. Muffin in such a manner that both Sarah and I thought Mr. Muffin was a stuffed animal. It was only upon closer inspection that we realized that Emma was squeezing a real life feathered-friend.

Mr. Muffin didn’t seem to mind one bit being coddled by the charming Emma.

In fact, Emma told us, Mr. Muffin likes it best when she turns him on his back and swaddles him up next to her like a bitty baby.

Ohmygosh, aren’t Emma and Mr. Muffin just the cutest pair? How can you not want to get chickens now? (Tim, are your reading this?)

I told Sarah how I have been wanting to have my own chickens ever since writing about chickens in Mother of Rain. How I love their personalities. I want a Rhode Island Red for sure, and a Speckled Hen, I think. What kind do you have?

Then Sarah told me that in Portland you can have three hens but no roosters. All that crowing gets on the neighbors nerves, I guess. In fact, Sarah said the family she lives with now has three chickens. When she arrived back home, Sarah sent me a photo of the eggs they’d dropped in her absence.

Tim insists we can’t have chickens because the dogs will eat them.

But there are chickens in my future, I just know it.

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