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Pamela Loxley Drake shares her thoughts and experiences with raising chickens for eggs.

COURTESY PHOTO - Pamela Loxley DrakeRaising of chickens seems to be a new trend.

Growing up country, there was nothing new about it.

The chicken house was small. The roost was at one end, and the boxes for laying eggs were at the other end. And, as it happens, the floor was dirt. There was no place to step that would keep my shoes from — well, you know.

Eggs. An adventure in gathering.

At an early age, I accompanied Mom to gather eggs. We did not have far to go. It was just across the yard. Yes, livestock live close to you when living on a farm.

With egg basket in hand, we went to once more repeat the same task as with all the days before.

There was a technique to keeping the chicken content on her nest while you snaked a hand over the top of the box and under her warm body. If you did it well, there would be a contented hen minus her eggs. If you did it poorly, feathers flew and squawking took place, not to mention that all of the other chickens would seem to voice support for her.

Chickens have a mob mentality.

Usually, I had the honor, since my hand was small and my stature allowed me to stand below the boxes in case of flapping. Never make eye contact. Quick in and quick out. In my mind, I always envisioned a little mouse under her. Eek!

Mom's mother, Mom Johnson, would put a flowered bonnet on my head and the egg basket in my hands. (Shades of "Little House on the Prairie.") She showed me how she put a glass egg into the boxes so the hens would lay. Hmm. We didn't have glass eggs and our hens laid. Another hmm. My best friend, Brenda, and I were often bored. There is only so much you can do on a farm, so creativity is called for now and then.

We discovered that we could hypnotize a chicken by holding her head to the ground and, with a stick, draw a straight line in the dirt away from her beak. The darn bird would sit there looking at that line not moving a feather. Now if you are a chicken catcher, it is a great way to capture and hold that squawking bird. If you are two little girls, it is a great way to have fun. If you are the father of one of the two little girls, you would like to pin her nose to the ground. No regrets here.

My children never got to see their grandpa's face when he discovered his hens cross-eyed in the chicken yard or when he told us to never do it again and we didn't — until the next time we were bored, and he wasn't looking.

Breakfast, anyone?

Pamela Loxley Drake is a Beaverton resident and self-described lifelong "farm girl."


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