Sleeping in was not an option during my summers as a kid. Everyone loves to sleep in -- I bet you do. But no, not me, not then. The sun rose, the roosters crowed, and my feet hit the hardwood floor.
Every year, my brother, sister and I spent the summer at my dad's farm. We ran wild and rampant in fields, forests and farmyards. We had chores to do, hay to bail, chickens to feed, and sun to soak up. True, I left behind my gaggle of friends in the city each time, but I knew I was heading for an experience that my friends would never have. I felt kind of lucky.
My dad opened up a whole new world to me. He made me appreciate nature and life away from my barbie dolls. I learned about animals, about crops, and about eating without having to go to the grocery store. Have you ever made a meal that came from your own backyard? Can you just imagine chicken so fresh and juicy you don't want to stop eating even when you're ready to burst? That was our typical Sunday night dinner.
That meant Sunday morning we had to go out to the yard to catch a chicken. I don't know if you've ever been chicken chasing, but let's just leave it at it's not so easy. I would end up with fits of giggles and find myself being chased by the chickens instead.
There is one Sunday I will never forgot. I don't think my brother or sister will ever forget either. The choice chicken had been captured, my brother was holding it as steady as he could upon the tree stump, while my dad held up the axe like a bronzed god ready to provide a table of plenty to his family.
The axe fell. My sister and I were perched upon the old wooden fence, patient in the shade. Flies were buzzing around our heads, the horse was switching his tail on the other side of the fence, vying for the small spot of shade from the tall birch tree, but careful not to get too near us. My sister jumped down and made her way to where my dad and brother stood. After all this time, I still don't know what urged her to walk over and look at the beheaded chicken.
There it lay. There she stood. And there, upon that chopping block, it found a surge of life and jumped up, beating it's wings, landing on it's feet, and ran headfirst for my sister. I say 'headfirst', but really, it was 'headlessfirst'! You can't imagine the look of sheer horror that moved across my sisters face. She was frozen in place for only an instant, but then kicked up dirt like she was running for her life! I, safe upon the fence, had to hold onto the rail to stop from falling off with laughter. This beheaded, and now bloody chicken was chasing my sister! It was karmic retribution right before our eyes!
She deeked right, the chicken followed. She made a hard left, the chicken followed. It trotted along behind her, keeping pace like an assassin. I think now of the headless horseman, and the poor townsfolk who were haunted by him. Lucky for my sister, there was no way a chicken could claim her head for its own. But then it started to close in on her, she was trapped by the tractor shack. She was screaming like a girl -- oh wait, she is a girl. It moved in for the kill, it darted up along beside her, brushing it's body against her skinny little chicken legs, leaving traces of blood running down into her sock.
We were no help to the situation, my dad and brother were laughing just as hard as I was. My sister was now crying. My dad had to swallow his laughter. The chicken had it's last run. It fell over in a heap. My dad walked over to her and wiped her tears, wiped her leg. He told her to go into the house to wash it off and then scooped up the chicken and followed behind her. A prize for his wife.
I can't recall now if my sister ate much dinner that night. For all I know, she reached for a chicken leg with relish, thinking "you little....". She's like that though, a little mean, a little saucy. What older sister isn't?
It was just another day on the farm, though. Monday morning came, the dawn cracked like a whip sending us off to the barn to brush the horses and feed the chickens. We were back on track; all barnyard duties were seen to which left the rest of the day open to a fairytale land for us to invent until supper time. I wouldn't have traded it for a summer of concrete and sleeping in at all.