Friday, December 3, 2010

Roosters are Not Required

This is my favorite chicken story from my childhood.

We lived in Palo Alto in a sizable house with an even more sizable yard.  The driveway was frammed with a grand iron gate where the neighborhood children would gather to visit the chickens and goose.

Lucy was a large, white Chinese goose who guarded the gate and announced visitors.  If she knew the visitor, she had this high-pitched, squeaky honk and we'd find her out there greeting the guest by nibbling on their shoe laces or pant cuffs.  And if she didn't know the guest, we'd usually find them pined up against the gate in fear with Lucy standing tall, honking at the top of her lungs.

And if you wondered where the term "to goose someone" came from, well, most geese stand tall at about 3 to 3 1/2 feet tall and can just reach that "sensitive" area.  And instinctively, they know to go for it.  But I digress.

So we're outside one beautiful morning chatting with a nanny who has brought over her charges to visit the fowl.  The nanny turns to my mother and asks, "Why don't you have a rooster?"  And mother replies, "We don't need one."  And the nanny says, "But don't you want eggs?"  To which my mother replies, "You don't need a rooster to get eggs."

The woman ponders this and stands there looking puzzled.  "But how can the hens lay eggs if you don't have a rooster?" she finally asks.  To which my mother replies, "Well, you lay an egg every month whether or not there's a man around!" 

The poor woman was absolutely speechless.  And eventually nodded and gathered her brood and disappeared down the street.  We never saw her at the gate again after that day.

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