A tub of chicken and the road trip

“We’ll be up for the week of the State Fair?!”  My daughter was thrilled and the thoughts running through her mind were evident by the sparkle in their eyes.  NJ State Fair meant great 4H memories with her friends and a terrific poultry show.  Immediately she is thinking show birds.  Confession,  so was I.   We packed the truck and headed out on our 1200 mile trek.  After visiting family and friends,  we then spent a day at the fair.  We headed straight to the chicken barn.  Well, we were momentarily waylaid by this beautiful chocolate-brown alpaca.  Not on the shopping list this time.  The chicken barn was full, as usual and the entries were beautiful.  The variety of birds was incredible, but we were focused.  Straight to the Poultry Association table.  We asked if there were any breeders there with Silkies.  John Finnigan was there with quite a representation.  He had most of the blue ribbons and rosettes this year!  And, he had a beautiful black rooster for Grace.  We talked about chicks and hashed out color options then discussed the wisdom of transporting babies on such a haul.  It had rained across the country all week.  It was finally determined that we would bring the black rooster and a dozen hatching eggs home.  The eggs would travel safely packed in a cooler.  The rooster was another story.  Well, it was Wednesday, and I had until Friday early am to figure it out. Mean while, my brother and sister-in – law had a beautiful 1890’s claw foot cast iron tub on their front porch.  You can see where this is going…  I have always loved cast iron tubs.  My grandma had one when I was a kid and I have wanted one like it ever since.  Those of you who have been following the pictures on http://www.Facebook.com/dogwoodhillsbb  have seen the barn that has been going up on our farm.  We are putting in a full bath on the second floor and I REALLY wanted a claw foot tub in it.  I had been shot down on the previous vote, but this, this was sitting there. almost level with the truck bed!  What’s a girl to do?  I pouted.  I know , you thought I had too much spit and vinegar for that.  Most days that’s true, but these were desperate times.  With the sweetest grin, my hubby conceded ~if I could figure out how to get it home.  No problem!  I’m the packing queen!!

Friday morning, really early,  Grace and I head up to the fairgrounds to meet John and pick out a rooster.  Grace chooses one that has a beautiful tail and full feathering.  We stop one last time to see the beautiful chocolate-brown alpaca and drool a bit and head next to the diner in Augusta, NJ to meet some girlfriends for a final cup of coffee before heading back to Arkansas.  The rooster is secured in the back seat for the time being.  After coffee and long good byes I head to my friend’s house to pick up a crate for Mr. Rooster( he has no name yet).  She had a great chicken cage and a big rabbit cage that I could visualize fitting perfectly in the tub.  Imagine that!  After another good-bye we were headed back down county to his moms.  Now to pack everything.  Clothes, travel bags, food in the cooler, etcetera, and there is still room.  We head to his grams for dinner.  Discussion of the possibility of the tub fitting in the back is underway.  The guys are banking on it being too big.  My sister-in – law and I are rooting for a perfect fit.  Remember, I’m the packing queen, and I know my truck bed pretty well.   The wild card is the length of the tub.   The good news, I’m going with them to get the tub.  I will make it fit.  I really want to bring home the tub.

The project was easier than I thought.  The porch was just the right height and the tub slipped right in the bed.  Ok~ the guys were a big help with the very heavy tub!  Thank you guys!!!  So now the tub is  strapped in, the chicken is situated in the tub and the rabbit cage is turned over on top of it and a few things packed around it to keep everything from shifting and as dry as possible.  We then head to my moms who lives on a very busy corner, in a very suburban area.  Mr. Rooster spends the night in the tub, under the rabbit crate, in the driveway, in the suburbs  and feels quite compelled to crow many times just before the crack of dawn.  My mom gets a kick out of this, since she is an early riser and was up to appreciate his morning serenade.

A little later than the crack of dawn and after saying goodbye to my mom, we were headed to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia to visit friends and spend the night.  Mr. Rooster was the recipient of many curious glances and enjoyed being taken out to let folks touch his soft, fluffy feathers.  He did not like spending the night in the room right next to the smoker house and was very glad to see us the next morning! He was, however, safe from the dog and other critters that might not require him being smoked to be considered edible.  The next leg of the trip took us to Nashville to meet friends for coffee.  This was the only time in the trip I thought I might worry just a bit about Mr. Rooster. Or maybe it was the 1896 tub in the back… Any way, I could not see the truck from where we were meeting our friends and they can attest to the fact that Mr. Rooster and / or the tub were checked on several times.  I guess it shows that I really enjoy living in my small town.  A little later we were on our way to Jackson, where we would spend the last night of our trip.  We met up with friends again and had a lovely dinner.  Don’t worry, the concierge at the HI Express had a great view of Mr. Rooster who was backed into the spot facing the entry door of the hotel.  Before retiring for the night, we moved the truck to the spot right outside our first floor window.  Backed in toward the window, we were able to check on him with just a glance.  Perfect!  About six more hours and we will be home.  Without any mishaps, Mr. Rooster and the tub are delivered to Dogwood Hills Farm.  Mr. Rooster is introduced to the rest of the silkies and life settles back to a normal rhythm – until the fair.

Fair week arrives, and Mr. Rooster and the silkies make their way to the fairgrounds along with the cow, sheep, goats and rabbits.  The silkies are quite a hit with the kids as well as the adults.  Grace and I take turns taking out these puff balls so people can feel them. Folks that wouldn’t normally pet a chicken feel compelled to touch these because they are just amazed at how soft they appear.  The judge liked Mr. Rooster too.  He was named Grand Champion Bantam!  He has been given the name Edmund and Grace is quite proud of her choice of poultry that early, rainy morning.  Now Edmund will go to the Northwest Arkansas District Fair in Harrison on Sunday.  Well see how he does there.  He and the silkies will be there through Tuesday.  Verdi, our Ameraucana rooster, will also be there.  He is from the same line as my old rooster Emeril.  We look forward to seeing how they do.

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