One thing that people who have known me from childhood — and there aren't very many — would tell you is that I really, really, really don't like chickens.
I'm sorry. I know all the urban rage is backyard chickens. I know all about the heritage breeds and the great nutritional value of farm-fresh eggs. I even know about the bonds of humans and chickens (shudder, shudder, shudder).
I know that the No. 1 thing that urbanites moving out to hobby farms and the fresh air and clean living of the countryside do is put in a chicken coop. Chickens, it seems, are the very symbol of returning to your roots.
In my case, my roots included the reality of the "two P's" of chickens — peck and poop — and I didn't like either one. I still don't.
Sitting here in my safe, chicken-free, covenant neighborhood I've been happy to be far, far from my roots. I not only don't like chickens, but also I don't like eggs.
Then, my daughter, son-in-law and four of my precious grandkids became hobby farmers. They bought a few acres with an old farmhouse and a giant, old red barn (love the barn) and began to experience the country life — including chickens.
The kids named the chickens. They adore the chickens, all 15 of them. They study chicken relationships, interaction, molting patterns, egg-laying patterns, need for dust baths, etc. They feed and water and watch and groom.
NO FEAR: Getting her hand pecked is apparently not a fear for Michele, who regularly lets the chickens eat from the palm of her hand. My fingers hurt just looking at her.
When one of the Australian Shepherd puppies took out a chicken, the youngest granddaughter was distraught.
One stall of the big, red barn is now a chicken house. A big chicken yard is attached. The egg collection is spectacular.
So yes, grandma can be won over to almost anything, even petting chickens. Or at least taking pictures of grandkids petting chickens.
SURROUNDED: Geneva likes playing in the chicken pen with the chickens. The pen is an extension off the big, red barn stall that has been converted to a hen house. My No. 1 dread, stepping in poop, seems a nonissue with the grandkids.
The reality is, I probably won't ever like chickens, even if I find myself at the county fairgrounds grooming chickens to go into cages to be judged on their whatever characteristics.
I'd even be willing to bet that in two years, I will know which chickens should advance to cages at the county fair and which should find their way to a hot skillet somewhere (smile, deny, smile).
But then, you know, when you see how attached the kid you love no matter what is to the bird that is well, whatever, it's hard to wish ill to the bird, even if it is a chicken.
So, here I am, fully on board with showing chickens at next year's Sumner County Fair.
I've been told by other grandparents that when it comes to unconditional love, you can't overestimate what you'd do for a grandchild. OK, I get it now. There really isn't anything I wouldn't do for a grandchild. Even hang out with a chicken.