People have asked me on occasion how long I've had chickens, and my answer is always the same.. "All my life." And it's really the truth- I've had poultry in some form or another since I was very small. And my love for chickens all came about as the result of one sweet old man.
There once was an elderly gentleman who went to our church named Cecil, and everybody called him the "Bird Man". He kept chickens, turkeys, and birds in general in all colors, sizes, and breeds. My Daddy kept chickens, too, usually no more than 10 or 12 at a time, but we were regular visitors to the Bird Man. When I was about 5 years old, Mr. Cecil came to me before church started one Sunday morning and said, "I've got you somethin' in the car, so see me after church." Well, I couldn't imagine, so I spent that whole service wondering what an old man could possibly have for me. Candy? A toy?
After enduring an entire church service wondering about this mystery, (which to a 5 year-old is much longer than eternity) I ran out the front door and to Cecil's old black Chevrolet. He reached into the back seat, and pulled out a brown paper bag with small holes poked in the top. He said, "Now you take these home, and give 'em a little water and some cornbread. And you be sure and take care of 'em, o.k.?"
My heart beat out of my chest as I peeked into the bag and saw three little balls of fluff looking back. I instantly fell head-over-heels in love. From that moment on, Mr. Cecil would bring me little chicks every spring. He always gave me roosters, and I know now he was culling out the ones he didn't need, but just to know he thought enough of me to trust me with their care meant the world to me, even now. The Bird Man passed away many years ago, but he left a little mark on my heart that time will never erase. I still think of him every spring when I know the baby chicks are arriving in our local feed store, and I always turn into that excited little tomboy once again.
By the way, I think one of these chicks should be named.... Cecil, don't you? :)