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Monday, May 02, 2005 

Phread and Herman

I have had some questions as to the seriousness of my building a chicken house.
I am serious. I had chickens when I was a kid so I thought I would tell you about one.
His name was Phread pronounced Fred. Phread was a Road Island Red Bantam roster.
He was the friendliest chicken I have ever encountered. I could call him and he would come to me. I have a picture of him when I was a child in my arms. Ah happy day.

I also had a wicked chicken named Herman. Herman would peck the hand that fed him at any opportunity. Herman had on several occasions ran me out of the hen house on my daily trip to gather eggs. I loathed Herman. Herman would get into the garden and peck the tomatoes, making my Mother furious. It was my job to drive Herman out of the Garden. I did this with dirt clods.

Ah dirt clods. When you farm they are everywhere. If you throw them they bust into a million pieces with a little puff of dirt. We thought of them as hand grenades and played war with them. We were calm, gentle and peace loving children. It was against the Geneva Convention to rifle a dirt clod they must be lobbed. Rifling a dirt clod means to “haul off and throw it at someone hard”. It was understood that any one caught rifling a dirt clod was to be the target of all other boys, which was bad, so we did not rifle dirt clods.

On this particular day our rich Aunt Alva was visiting for a few days. It was understood that we had to have couth all week. Our best behavior left much to be desired but I did what I could.
Mom came in the house and told me Herman was in the garden again. I said great and ran out for a little target practice. I was bored to tears from all the good behavior and needed a little excitement. Aunt Alva said, as I ran by, that she was so glad there was someone available for me to play with. I told her Herman is a chicken.
Alva said, “oh BO what one man sees as cowardice another sees as caution.
I did not know what that meant but I understood about ¼ of what she said anyway so I said “ok”.

I went out and began lobbing dirt grenades at Herman. Herman did his usual act of stretching his neck out and running to the hen house as fast as she could. I quickly sent a quick side armed rifled dirt clod at Herman. The one in a million lucky shot caught Herman right in the head. Too bad I thought Herman is dead. He slid to a stop not moving a feather. Chicken executions were commonplace at the Snagley house so this did not faze me much.

Our conversation is as follows.

Mom: Well what about Herman.

Me: Oh I killed him with a rifled dirt clod.

Alva: Oh you are making a joke.

Me: No Herman is dead. I put him on the manure pile

Alva: Inhale deeply Oh My Gawd you killed him. (She then began looking for the phone. I assumed to call the doctor for some asthma medication)

Mom Oh well I never liked Herman anyway the he was such a pecker.

Alva Oh My Gawd this time louder and more sustained.

Herman staggers by the door looking like he was staggering home after a three-day drunk.

Me: Oh look Herman is alive I must have only stunned him

Mom oh well

Alva (She looks like a cocker spaniel working a math problem.) OH Herman is a chicken

Me Yes that is what I said

Alva went home the next day, which was good I had about all the couth I could stand. Things got back to normal then, for what that was worth.
Life was a little better now, Herman seemed a little sweeter and I a little bolder.