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Along Life’s Way
A Fowl Fable
By Lois E. Wilson
 
My teacher parents had a summer fruit market on the west side of Dayton. Every day commuting to it, we passed by the Forney Feed store. I must have gone into it at some time, for somehow I knew they carried baby ducks and chickens. I was eight years old.
 
One day the phone rang. Mother answered it. She looked puzzled as she spoke to the caller, “What? Are you sure?” She asked, “Do we have to take them? Well, all right. We’ll be there this afternoon.” She hung up, “Lois, what have you done? Did you order six chickens and a duck from Forney’s?”
 
I stammered, “Yes, I want to raise some pets. I want to do what Grandpa does.” We picked up the order and took it home. Dad created a box pen and put a light bulb in it for warmth. The store had sold us feed and containers for water and feed. I was in business, like Grandpa, with my pets that seemed to be adjusting fairly well.
 
A few days later, proud of my endeavor, I insisted on taking my pets to school for “Show and Tell.” My parents warned, “If they get chilled, they could die.” At that time “die” didn’t mean much to me. My pets looked healthy—I persisted. The next day to show the class, I carried them to school in a box. I had named the duck, Donald. The chickens needed names. So I named one, Miss Rudy, after our principal; the others were named for teachers.
 
Back home in their big box pen, I checked on them. Some of the chickens, their eyes closed, were shaking as they huddled by the warm bulb. They looked very sick. That night I learned what “die” meant—I lost three of them.
 
The pets outgrew their pen. Dad suggested it was time to take them to Grandpa’s chicken farm. It was on three acres which stretched west along the southern border of the Dayton airport. Grandpa had three chicken houses for 200 laying hens. So Donald, Miss Rudy, and the two teacher chickens took up residency there.
 
You’ve heard the saying, ”Birds of a feather flock together.” My pets defied that observation. Donald was at the top of the three chickens’ pecking order. After a rain, they followed Donald into puddles and splashed as he did. Ignoring the other 200 chickens, they followed him everywhere. It was quite comical.
 
My pets hadn’t had the diversity training that was in vogue. They weren’t forced to integrate. They recognized each species as one of their own—and Donald was certainly an exemplary leader. In fact, the teacher chickens had demoted Miss Rudy. She was no longer their principal.
 
Moral: Treat everyone with kindness; you never know who will end up ruling the roost!


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