Humor on the farm
This story starts with chickens. I had a small place in southern Minnesota, and I had traded some farrier work for a few of these charming birds. Four hens and two roosters, if I remember correctly. Now these were not fancy chickens, nor special by anyone's claim; but they were my first very own flock, and I was proud to own them. It is something that every serious frontiersman homesteader simply must acquire if they are to be serious frontiersman homesteaders, and I had done that. Plus, I just really like chickens.
My then wife Becki, on the other hand, vacillated between horror and revulsion. She firmly believed that chickens were stupid, dirty, and disgusting; and the idea that I would want to eat something that came out of their behinds (as opposed to shiny cardboard egg cartons found in grocery store refrigerators) was incomprehensible.
As I was not allowed to bring those delicious farm fresh eggs into her kitchen, it wasn't long until one of my little friends had gathered herself a clutch and decided to get down to the business of becoming a mother. This fact sure enough changed things. The possibility of baby anythings--even baby chickens--well, now, Becki was fascinated. So for the next couple of weeks momma chicken had a devoted fan.
My mother chose that time to come up from Houston for a visit. One evening we were all out in the barn visiting, petting horses, and looking around. Momma chicken had just hatched out her brood, and Becki disappeared for a bit to check on 'her' new baby chicks. It wasn't long before I heard a new found terror in her voice as she screamed at mom and me to come help and come fast. Momma chicken was trying to kill the babies.
Becki is one of the smartest people I know. She has a B.S. in nursing, is well respected amongst her friends, and shows more than her share of common sense. She most generally knows what she is talking about. She also has a heart big enough to feel all the way down to her toes if a baby is being mistreated. So when she cried out in terror, I responded without hesitation and mom was right behind me. Chickens are, after all, chickens.
We arrived with great speed, not knowing what we would find. I had visions of a psycho momma hen, and plans to rescue any chicks that were still alive. Thoughts on how I would console Becki were crossing my mind, as well as possible attempts to explain the sometimes ugliness of nature. As I threw myself down to my knees at the door of the cage and started to yank it open, I heard Becki say--the sadness in her voice was bottomless--"She is trying to suffocate them!!! Oh why would she do that?"
I stopped, then, and looked in. Although somewhat perturbed about all of the noise going on around her, sweet mother hen was softly clucking to her brood as she kept them warm and safe under her wings. Just like every good mother hen has ever done throughout the long history of mother hens.
I tried as best as I could to somewhat contain my laughter, as I did not have a very big dog house; but I ended up hurting my ribs. Mom explained to Becki that momma chicken was not indeed trying to hurt her babies, etc., and we all ended up enjoying the experience. Well, Becki and mom enjoyed it. Like I said, that dog house was small.
But the story has a second part. See, in my family, good stories like that are to be shared, savored, and then shared again. Everyone understands that if a good one is told about you it means that you are a treasured part of the family: you enjoy when stories are told about you as much as when stories are told about everyone else. So it came to be that at the next family gathering mom talked about Becki and the mother hen 'suffocating' her babies. Everyone enjoyed the tale thoroughly, and hearty chuckles were enjoyed by all. Everyone that is, except Mike.
My cousin Julie's new husband was not chuckling. Mike is well educated and a leader of people; and has the skills and abilities to hold important positions in top ranked hospitals. This guy impresses everyone he meets. He was new to the country life but he is a smart man and a fast learner. He had been on the farm more than enough times now to know how mother animals operated, and he didn't see any humor at all in the story. When the chuckling had died down somewhat he spoke up with all seriousness, a confused look on his face.
"I don't see what is so funny about that," he stated. "They were just trying to get some milk!"
After a moment of stunned silence, thunderous laughter erupted all the way around. Someone finally caught their breath enough to remind Mike that only mammals produce milk. Mom and a couple of other ladies got together and made up a bottle of 'chicken milk' for Mike for Christmas. Yet another two part story got added to my family's collection.