In retrospect, adding the chickens sounded better in the planning than in the execution – which very nearly was ours. Certainly, we wouldn’t have had to hide in the hayloft for three days, fighting the cats for their dish of kibbles.
It was somewhere around my eighth year of surviving in a world before seat belts and I was visiting Ollie, a third cousin twice removed.
In retrospect, life would have been less risky had cousin Ollie been further removed.
Anyway, Ollie and I had commandeered the chicken coop, pretending it was a rocket ship and that the chickens were survivors we rescued from the planet Cluckoria, which cracked like an egg when evil cows tripped while jumping over the moon.
The coop abutted the pasture and we found that we could lure the Holsteins to the windows by waving fistfuls of chicken feed. Once they poked their muzzles inside, we set about protecting Cluckorians by cracking stray eggs over the Moovarians’ noses.
It was about the time that Ollie figured it would be more exciting if we shoved several of the cows into the chicken coop that Aunt Tillie stepped out the back door.
“Boys, we’re going on a … EEEK! Where are you going with them? What is that yellow stuff dripping from those cows?”
We did our best to conceal them behind us, but black and white are not the best colors for camouflage.
Aunt Tille began spluttering, which she did a lot when I visited.
Figuring that the old chicken coop probably couldn’t hold the weight of a half dozen, 1,500-pound cows anyway, we hustled them back to the pasture, promising them more eggs the next chance we got.
Aunt Tillie was running dry of words when we rounded the barn again, but that nervous tick in her eye was giving her fits.
“Look, you hooligans, we’re going up to the lake for a picnic. Load the baskets, chairs and blankets into the trunk while I finish getting your sister dressed.”
She staggered back inside the house and we started lugging the picnic fixings to the car.
Then Ollie hit on The Big Idea: “I know how we can sneak all the Cluckorians right past the Moovarians!”
It took some doing to squeeze all 32 chickens into the trunk without any of them leaking out.
“We better turn on the radio so Mom doesn’t hear the Cluckorians’ clacks of gratitude,” Ollie said.
Between the radio, which we insisted on, the noisy muffler and us practicing animal imitations in the back seat, Aunt Tillie didn’t seem to notice anything amiss. Besides, she was too busy yelling over her shoulder for us boys to “Stop bouncing around back there! You’re rocking the whole car!” but that was pretty normal stuff for rides with Aunt Tillie.
Finally, we pulled into the parking lot. It was a beautiful day and the beach was crowded with people eating sandwiches, playing catch, swimming and building sandcastles.
Until Aunt Tillie popped the trunk.
Afterward … well, my memory’s still a little jumbled from the flurry and feathers of all the sudden excitement. I knew city folk were kinda skittish, but Aunt Tillie’s screeching embarrassed me.
Three hours later, with the help of Uncle Elmer, who had been called from work, we headed home with most of the chickens we came with. The rest — well, let’s just say those stories about bands of feral chickens roosting in city allies isn’t just an urban myth.
I just wish we had thought to snatch a picnic basket as we shot out of the car as soon as the car almost stopped after pulling back into Ollie’s driveway. But we figured it best to take our chances with the evil Moovarians rather than hang around to see what else Uncle Elmer and Aunt Tillie had to say.
In retrospect, I think we were right.