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By Staff | Aug 24, 2012

Call me a cad if you like but I think my plan was brilliant. And the plan worked brilliantly, at least for a while.

It began this past spring when I developed an overwhelming urge to see some new chicks. I knew better than to broach the subject with my wife; there’s no point in asking questions to which you already know the answer.

I was shopping one day when I espied a bevy of young chicks who seemed perfect: too cute and sporting that trendy brunette-streaked-with-blonde hairstyle. I wanted to take them home and they were amenable to the idea, but there was no way my wife would stand for it. That’s when my brilliant plan suddenly popped up, like a sweet, hot Pop-Tart leaping from the toaster slot.

I explained to my chirpy new friends that we have an unused outbuilding at our farm. With a little cleanup and repair, it could become their domicile. This was brilliant. Instead of secreting them away at some distant location, they could live right on our farmstead.

The little chippies deemed this an excellent plan.

A few days later, after everything was made ready, I covertly installed them in the unused building. I made certain that they had everything they would need and that their new digs were comfy and warm.

I never once deceived my wife regarding any of this. After 32 years of marriage, I can no longer fob off even the feeblest fib on her. If she had at any time asked, “Do you have some sort of secret that you’re hiding out in that old shed?” I would have had no choice but to confess.

But she never asked so I didn’t have to tell. My plan worked wonderfully for nearly two months. But I gradually became complacent, and complacency leads to mistakes.

One evening I was returning from the garden with some goodies for my clandestine guests when my wife’s voice suddenly rang out from the deck. I hadn’t noticed she was there. I froze with fear.

“Where are you going with that stuff?” she asked.

“Nowhere,” I answered, hoping to sound nonchalant.

“What do you have in the chicken coop?”

“Nothing,” I replied, suddenly drenched in flop sweat.

“What are you hiding?”

“Nothing,” I protested.

It was all for naught. The sound of my chatty guests’ voices echoed from the coop and my brilliant plan was reduced to rubble. I fell on my knees before my wife, eager to repent, praying for forgiveness.

“How many do you have out there?” she asked.

“Only a dozen or so,” I said, but my conscience swiftly prodded me into a full confession. “About two dozen. Twenty-five, to be exact.”

She shook her head.

“There are men who secretly keep chicks on the side. Leave it to you to have secret chickens.”

So what impelled me to purchase those Wyandotte chicks last spring? I wish I could answer that, because thither lies the mysteries of the human heart.

Maybe it’s just that I like the idea of having a bunch of creatures around who are handling our recycling duties. Chickens are wonderfully adept at turning potato peels and watermelon rinds and expired fruit into poultry and eggs.

Perhaps it’s the thought of having a small bit of food independence. Those chickens will do precious little to reduce our grocery bill, but still. It’s the principle of the thing.

The Wyandotte chicks were straight run, which means they should have been about half roosters and half pullets. Nearly two-thirds turned out to be roosters, which means the flock will need substantial thinning.

This past weekend I decided that the time had come for one of the roosters to join us at the dinner table. It had been a while since I had induced a live chicken into becoming the main course. I had forgotten how each bird is equipped with approximately 50 million feathers and about as many pinfeathers. By the time I finished my feathery task, I was all pluckered out.

But it gave me a good feeling to know that our own poultry grown with our own grain was being smoked with wood grown on our farm. Except for most of the grain had been bought at the farm supply store and most of the wood was purchased charcoal. But, still. It’s the principle of the thing.

As we sat on the deck enjoying our poultry repast, a rooster crowed mightily.

“You doofus!” exclaimed my wife, “What made you think you could get away with keeping a bunch of secret chickens out in the coop?”

“I don’t know,” I replied guiltily. “I really didn’t have a plan.”

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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