Saturday, September 24, 2011

Here Chick, Chick. Here Chicky, Chick.

  I grew up on a farm in rural Missouri and one of my chores was to get the chickens put away for the night. Most times they would go in the coop all by themselves, but sometimes I had to call them and round them up. Here chick-chick, her chicky-chick , was kind of the call, I would use. I also had to gather the eggs. Some times the eggs were, well, kinda dirty, so another job I had, was to wash them off ,before I took them in the house. Most kids of my generation growing up on a farm, spent many a day bare foot. I was no exception, hardly ever wore shoes. Do you know what it is like to gather eggs barefoot? Think about it. Chicken do and bare toes. Not a very nice picture. We also raised chickens to eat. Each spring a box would come in the US Mail with about 100 baby chickens. Most of them were hens, a few were roasters. Some got to live to an older age and were used as laying hens. Of course those were replacements for the old ladies that became chicken and dumplings on cold winter nights. It is hard to believe that I raised, fed, watered and looked after these sweet baby chicks and then a few weeks latter, watched as my mother, rang there necks and we had them for supper. Hasn't bothered me a lot as, fried chicken is still my favorite food. I just pretend I do not know where it comes from. To quote my little 4 year old great niece, where  do chickens come from - Kroger, where do you think they come from. No need to let her know any difference.
    The history of chickens is a bit of a puzzle. They were first domesticated from a wild form called red jungle fowl, a bird that still runs wild in Asia. Recent research suggests there may have been multiple origins, including China, Thailand and India. The new breads of chickens are geared  to gain weight, egg production starts earlier and more frequent and they produce larger eggs. Studies show multiple origins of domestication. The evidence dates to China in 5400 BC.
    It is believed that chickens were brought to the Polynesian Islands from Asia. And it is assumed that they had been brought to America from the Spanish.
   People really like to keep chickens because they are cheap to get started and cheap to maintain, as they can be left to run free and almost live on the land. Early settlers feed the chickens left over bread and food scraps. Chicken has always been a good food source. Once a chicken has been killed the whole thing can be eaten in one day, without worry of it going bad. This was really an advantage in early times before there was refrigeration.
    The dictionary defines a chicken as a domesticated fowl. Chickens are one of the most common domestic animals and with a population of more than 24 billion, makes more chickens in the  world than any other fowl.
     Humans keep chickens primarily as a source of food., consuming both there eggs and meat. Eggs have often been called-"The perfect food." The first chickens domesticated in Asia were mostly used for cock fighting. This still goes on today. Chickens have been recorded as early as the 18th Dynasty in Egypt.

   Chickens have been used in art for thousands of years. In China they were  copied in ivory, lead, bronze, gold and jade. Chickens have been painted in art for centuries. Usually as a back ground subject. More recent, they have become the subject. In the 1900's  chickens became the subject for many ceramic and porcelain figure. They have been mass produced ever since. Often found on French Toile wall  paper and fabric. Chickens as art, are widely loved and collected today. If you look on 100 blogs, you would probably find at least 80 of them ,would do at least one post about chickens. Recently there was a chicken party on the blogs. I never think ahead,so I am running a little behind.
   I have always loved chicken statues and paintings. I have always had them in my kitchens. I used to collect dozens of them, they were piled every where. In my old age, I  have pared down ,only only have 5 statues. They are all fine Italian ceramic ones and all larger than life size. A white pair live on my kitchen island. My rooster and Miss Hen, are used to hold tea towels and often my glasses, are place on Mr. Roosters comb. The brightly colored pair live on the ice box, as we can not  have the two roosters fighting. The single hen lives on the side board. She has no mate and often causes fights with the others.
    I hope you enjoy my chickens, as much as I do. I just love them and can not imagine having a kitchen with out them. Please come by some time for a tour. I will leave the lights on and Sissy Dog will meet you with a jump and a kiss. I will never promise to make fried chicken, but my favorite restaurant , right up the road, makes the best, so I would be glad to take us for a platter full.And don't forget the gravy and mashed potatoes.Got to go, fried chicken and lunch are calling my name. Have a wonderful weekend.

Today on the Mississippi River in from of, My Old Historic House.