Thursday, December 1, 2011

Uncle Joe, eggs, and wet chickens

Reading Adaptive Curmudgeon’s stories about his chickens reminded me of the story my mom told me when I was growing up.

My mom and her brother, Joe, grew up during the depression. They did not live on a farm, but the family had chickens, and it was my Uncle Joe’s job to collect eggs in the morning. Uncle Joe really wanted to grow up to be a juggler. (Do you see where this is going?) He practiced with the eggs he gathered every morning.

He buried the mistakes.

My mother swore the chickens would line up as he juggled the eggs and walked towards the house, clutching the chicken wire fence and pleading “Don’t drop any! Don’t drop any!”

You see, my Grandpa figured each hen should lay one egg each day. He would count the eggs, and if he came up short, he would decide which hens weren’t laying. He’d then put the underperformer(s) in a crate, tie a rope to it, throw the end of the rope over a tree branch, pull the rope to run the crate up the tree, and squirt the chicken(s) with a hose.

I have no idea if this ever produced more eggs, but it probably does explain why Grandpa was an architect (and a cartographer during WWI) instead of a farmer.

My Uncle Joe did become a fantastic juggler, not that he made a living at it. I remember him juggling a basketball, a softball and a football, all at the same time. I also remember him juggling bowling pins. The kind you hit with bowling balls, not the balanced theatrical kind.  Speaking of theatrical, he appeared in a play at the Rochester Civic Center as a juggler for a run of 20 performances. My Aunt also mentioned in passing that he got in trouble for juggling eggs at a New Year’s party at a friend’s house. Somehow I’m imagining there was alcohol involved. And that someone must of egged him on.
Uncle Joe in 1949. A bit before my time.


  1. Booo! Bad Pun!

    You mean that's not how you get chickens to lay? Hmmm

  2. While the hens may have been a little shell-shocked, Uncle Joe never was the kind to chicken out.

    Shall I stop now?

  3. Back in those days, loss of ONE egg was a disaster, and the non-producer more times than not ended up in the pot! :-)

  4. Hmm... maybe I should try that on my chickens, they've been slacking off lately.

  5. Do you think at Christmas he sang "Angels We Have Heard on High"? It's got that line about "Gloria in egg shell seas ..."