Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What are you Chicken or something?

Fred was our pet chicken's name. My dad didn't let us have a dog, yet we had a pet chicken! It was 1972 and my brother was in 6th grade.

As part of his science class they were learning about chickens and actually had fertilized eggs and an incubator in the classroom to observe the entire process of hatching eggs.

One of the many odd things about this whole pet chicken thing was being kids in the 70s in Wisconsin, living in our industrial town in the middle of our block, on just a plain ole paved neighborhood street with sidewalks. We had a chicken for a few months.

Another odd thing was, that my brother's teacher happened to also be a farmer, the eggs/ chickens were from him. And, this teacher/farmer used to date my mother about 15 years earlier. Our town isn't that small, but how weird is that?

My kids too had the live chicken hatching experience, once in second grade (as room mom I helped with that) and the other in 7th grade science (being an aide at the school for 7th grade, I got to help with that) . So, I have a feeling that 40 years ago, you had to get permission to get a chicken to raise at home once they were hatched and a few weeks old.

I mainly remember Fred from the pictures. I loved animals and so badly wanted a pet. My dad always said that once you get attached to an animal it dies, and then you have to grieve the loss. My mom grew up on a farm with cows, chickens, horses and dogs. They seemed to eat their pets.... not the dog mind you, he was a farm hand. She was done raising animals. Pets weren't a part of my childhood, except for Fred!

I remember chasing that chicken around our postage size yard, the clucking and the wings and feather flying. We'd try to contain him in a tent we pitched in the back. He was fun to pet. But alas, he got too big to house in just a box in the basement, so we took him to the farm. The farm of the teacher/previous boyfriend of my moms.
We eventually found out that Fred, was really Fredricka! And then one day we heard that Fred was chased by one of the farm dogs, and s/he lost the race.
A few years later I was able to convince my parents that I was responsible enough to take care of a pet, they let me get gerbils, Bert & Ernie. When I look through old picture albums any time we went on vacation there are pictures of me riding horses, or at a petting zoo. They let me get all that animal 'stuff' in, away from the house. Because I felt deprived as a child, the first thing I did in my very first apartment was adopt a cat, Addison. Then I tried to adopt a dog.... that was a crazy idea, we'll leave that maybe for another story. And then, ever since in my married life... we have always had a dog, or two!

Owning a pet is not for everyone. But I still think it makes for great stories! How many people do you know owned a pet chicken?

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