I have always been a great lover of farm stories. A couple of days ago I was thrilled to find this one sitting in my SPAM folder. It was written by Kevin Wolfe of White County, Arkansas with the help of his mother Peggy Wolfe's memory of the event, and from her perspective. The illustration is Kevin's as well, and though it did not originally come with the story, I thought it fit quite nicely. I hope you all enjoy this as much as I, and strongly encourage all of you to send me your own 'farm tales'! -TRMy son Kevin has been a farmer at heart since we moved to the country when he was a little guy. Our two acres were roomy enough to support a few chickens, which were Kevin’s of course, and a huge garden. He loved to help me in the garden. His dad built a pen and a nice chicken house for about a dozen chickens and a couple of ducks. My son was in seventh heaven! His heart was to be broken shortly after when a bob cat got into the pen during a snow storm. When we went to feed the chickens, there were dead ducks and bloody foot prints all over the pen. It took him a while to get over that. As he grew to be a man, got married, and became a father of two boys, he and his wife found a place in the country which consisted of two acres. They all settled into a comfortable life. Gardening and dogs were great but something was missing. The “chicken thing” reared its head! He got chicks from a feed store, straight run. More roosters than pullets. I had warned him but some things you have to learn for yourself. After the chicks grew some, I could see lots of chicken and dumplings, not so. His basset hound has a kennel next to the chicken pen. He had three huge Rhode Island Red roosters that became his basset’s pet chickens. They are known as Moe, Larry, and Curly. Bentley and the roosters get along quite well and even share a house. The dog shares everything with the roosters except her dog food. Some of his other chickens are “odd balls.” They were supposed to be bantams. They got tall, slim, and had long feathers on their heads, real conversation pieces! They were all kind of cute when they were little, however, the one my son named “White Elvis”, (due to his tall head feathers that look like an Elvis Presley hair doo) turned mean! He must have come from a fighting stock. He had long blue legs, his feathers went from white to a yellowish tan color. He would crow constantly, night and day, run up behind you and try to beat your legs with his powerful wings! He really got his bluff in on my eight year old grandson. He would carry a broom with him when he would go out to feed the chickens!
White Elvis liked to stay outside the pen and patrol the area surrounding it. He would roost on the fence surrounding the Basset Hound. The first night that we received any winter weather, Elvis had roosted on his fence as he did any other night. When Morning came, my son went to feed and water the animals. He noticed that white Elvis had not approached him for his feed. After a few moments of tossing corn chops to the other chickens, my son heard White Elvis’ unique crowing from a few feet behind where he was standing. He turned to see Elvis with his head laying down in the snow, still walking and crowing! Digging a trench with his head in the snow as he walked! Apon approaching, my son found that Elvis had stayed on the fence over night and his feathers on his head were encased in ice! He could no longer keep his head up due to the weight of the ice.
Feeling bad for the rooster, my son scooped him up and brought him into the house where his family was still fast asleep. My daughter in law was awakened to come and use the hair dryer to thaw out the poor frozen bird. After about half an hour of blow drying, Elvis was able to hold his head up once again. Wanting to monitor the bird, my son kept the rooster in a pet carrier in the corner of the kitchen for the day. After seeing that the bird was back to his old cheerful self, my son released him to go back to the coop area. Elvis went straight for the fence and roosted in the exact same place he had been when he was half frozen alive! I guess you can’t teach an old chicken new tricks!
Kevin’s bio: I live on two acres in rural White County, North Arkansas with my wife Leslie and two children, Logan age 11 and Brendan age 9. We enjoy the quiet country life. We raise chickens, ducks, and keep a modest garden. I have been gardening since I was old enough to follow my mom and dad into the truck patch. I feel it is very important to instill gardening into my children’s upbringing. “To be self sufficient in growing your own food for your family is so rewarding on so many levels.” I love to can my vegetables at the end of the growing season. “It’s great to open up a jar of garden green beans in January when the snow is on the ground.” When I can’t get into the garden, I enjoy drawing cartoon illustrations for fun. The country life is so wonderful. I cherish the many memories I have of growing up in the Ozarks and I look forward to the many memories yet to come.