A lesson on optimism in the chicken coop

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, August 23, 2023

By Harold Brummett
Denmark Star Route

My grandfather Gant died well before I was born. Having never seen him, nevertheless I felt he was as big a part of my life as anyone else in the family. The stories told about him were wonderful, and even if only half of them were true, Fennel Gant was a legend.

It was the height of the depression and there was a lot to be depressed about. Fennel Gant’s wife died in childbirth a couple of years back and he farmed on the shares. Fennel had eight children (five girls, three boys) to provide for.

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Fennel had two brothers, Donnie and D.F., who were by all accounts as big a rounders and rascals anywhere. Not having many material possessions or prospects was liberating and worrisome at the same time.

The preacher was coming by Sunday after church with the expectation of a piece of that good old gospel bird. Short of poultry Fenn and Donnie decided the best thing to do was to redistribute the chicken wealth in the community.

A man of fowl means was decided on. So not to embarrass themselves they decided the provider of the Sunday meal not be asked for a bird. It was reasoned that it would make the farmer feel bad to tell them no, he would not provide a bird and it would make Fenn and Donnie feel ashamed to ask. Best for all around if a nighttime raid was conducted.

After midnight, Fenn and Donnie arrived at the farmers’ place who was the donor for the pastors repast. Quietly the door to the pen opened and they made their way to the chicken house. Donnie opened the door and went inside where the birds were roosting on sticks laid up near the rafters for this purpose. Donnie looked up and as he concentrated on selecting the best bird for the meal his jaw slacked.

Fenn was outside watching to make sure they did not interrupt the farmer’s sleep and cause him unnecessary upset. A moment passed when Donnie came out of the hen house, spitting and gagging. “Fenn,” he whispered, continuing to gag and spit, “I am the luckiest man in the world.”

Donnie continued, “A little bit more to the left or right that bird would have crapped right in my face.”

This lesson from Granddaddy Gant on optimism as told by my mother, shows that the bright side of a situation can be discovered if you have a good attitude and can keep your mouth shut.

Write to Harold Brummett at denmarkmississipppi@gmail.com.