When I was a little girl, my parents volunteered to help a friend demolish their old barn. In return, my parents would salvage what they could of the lumber and the friend would have a nice bare spot for a new woodshed. Initially, it was a great idea and a win-win for all those involved; however, I quickly learned why married couples should (1) never build together and (2) never tear apart an ancient structure with two whining kids present (Uncle R and myself).
My parents tried to “sell” us on the project by emphasizing how much fun we’d have picking up nails, helping stack dirty wood, and *gasp* even better, dodging the angry chickens that were pissed off we were taking their house. Even at 10 years old, I knew that their form of fun was actually kid punishment with a thinly spread layer of saccharine to “inspire” our work abilities (or lack thereof, as they quickly found out). But at our tender ages of 10 and 8, we were pretty much equivalent to indentured servants so we had no choice but to obey our parent’s request of child torture.
The demolition started off without much ado or yelling – mainly because my dad was working the chainsaw and couldn’t hear my mom voicing her concerns in the form of four letter words and unsavory hand gestures. Mom was our supporter in that she didn’t really see the need for more stinky old lumber to clutter up our backyard. But dad couldn’t be swayed from a freebie or from the opportunity of getting to run his chainsaw for insane amounts of time.
As we progressed into the project, Uncle R and I found that we had time to explore our surroundings and get to know the “locals.” One such local was a chicken with issues named “Lumpy.”
Lumpy was a little black hen that would follow us around the yard, chattering her incessant complaints about the weather or current bug shortage. As I previously mentioned, Lumpy had a few issues that brought about her owners to call her the “special chicken.” One such problem was that she didn’t quite seem to have a handle on her equilibrium and had a tendency to walk sideways. She’d make up for the goofy walk by cocking her head and looking at you, at a very odd angle. And to top it all off, poor Lumpy had a bad attitude with the other ladies in the yard and tended to get into scraps that she normally didn’t win. This caused her to have a feather shortage on the top of her head and neck, almost as if she had a feather mullet. She was the epitome of “Joe Dirt” in the chicken world. And did I mention that she had a few fatty tumors here and there? These little beauty blemishes helped to solidify her unique name.
Uncle R and I took pity on Lumpy and would help her out by finding her bugs and succulent snail eggs so that she could have a peaceful gourmet dinner with people who truly appreciated her. In turn, she’d occasionally lay us a goofy looking egg and we’d splat it – too afraid we’d catch something funky if we ate the contents. She’d follow us around the barnyard, supervising our activities. We we quickly became her own “brood” since God was wise and did not allow her to hatch her own little “Lumpy” chicks.
Our relationship continued on throughout the demolition and we were sad to say goodbye when the final piece of lumber was salvaged. But it was time to go and my parent’s marriage was also in need of a good salvation, as the constant bickering and fighting had taken its toll on their relationship. My parents stayed in touch with their friends and they told us that Lumpy lived a long and happy life as their token “special” chicken. We never did see Lumpy again but I think she managed to leave memorable hen pecks in our hearts as I now have my own chickens – but unfortunately, no one has been as memorable as Lumpy.