Log in  •  Sign up   •  Subscribe feed icon

Chickens Can Be Pets Too?

As a second-generation kid of Italian descent, a trip to Grandma’s house in Rochester, New York’s inner city was always entertaining. While Grandma Rose Lamantia (aka “The Boss”) wasn’t necessarily what you’d classify as eccentric, her old-world habits and traditions were often an adventure to behold for a toddler who was being gentrified in the suburbs. While household pets in my world were of the canine variety, Grandma was the first to introduce me to the idea that a chicken could also be man’s best friend.

Grandma Rose (aka "The Boss")Grandma Rose (aka "The Boss")So when Mom left me at Grandma’s casa one weekend, I had a lot of fun trying to reacquaint myself with a couple of chickens she kept in a coop in the backyard. While they looked different each time I visited, and she never called them by name, I was quick to nickname them “Salt” & “Pepper” for the obvious reasons.


However getting a little frustrated in trying to get my pets to fetch a ball, Grandma suggested we go shopping at the Farmers’ Market where share-croppers journeyed in from locales as far away as Watertown, NY. To a young lad, the sights and smells of this open-air bazaar was as exotic to me as what I witnessed later in life in destinations like Kyoto, Japan and Ladakh, India. This marketplace was a cornucopia of freshly picked crops, foreign dialects and alien aromas.

While Grandma had me in tow, she seemed to be enjoying the opportunity to communicate in her native tongue while purchasing vegetables, pasta and fruits for our evening meal. However, when we reached the meat kiosk, her temperament seemed to change, as her argument with one of the rural butchers began to escalate. Unable to discern her Sicilian banter (aside from a few cuss words my cousins and I learned over time), I could detect from her gesticulations, that the she was not a happy camper.

Moments later, she seized my hand to signal our departure. When I asked why she was so angry, her only reply was “costa too much dead”.

That evening prior to dinner, an indistinguishable ruckus drew me out to the backyard. To my shock and awe, two headless chickens were running around in circles chased by my frantic old Sicilian Grandma, armed with an ax in her hand, yelling “costa too much dead. I kill 'em myself.”

After that day, and up until my teens, I had a hard time adjusting to eating poultry, particularly when a family member would ask me to “pass the Salt and Pepper."

Ron Callari
PetsLady.com

Comments
Apr 4, 2012
by Anonymous
add comment reply

She did that to Mary and I

She did that to Mary and I once, also. Bought us bunnies. My sister, Mary, was wise to the scheme, but being younger, I was naive. I played with "Blacky" all day long and fed him all the time (fattening him up was more like it). I finally got wind of what was about to happen to my beloved pet. I brought him over to the Wood Specialty Lumbar Co. across the street and would sneak over there all the time to play with him. Big Rosie had a fit when she saw he was gone. I just played dumb and pretended I didn't know anything. My mom was wise to it, tho', but kept my secret. The employees of the lumbar yard finally approached me one day and asked what was going on. With tears streaming down my young face, I explained what was about to happen and why I brought him there. They started leaving him food, also. Mary enjoyed the rabbit stew, but I wouldn't touch it with a 10' pole! How could she eat her pet????

Apr 4, 2012
by Ron Callari
Ron Callari's picture
add comment reply

Blacky!!!

RIP Blacky -and RIP Grandma Rose!

Apr 4, 2012
by Anonymous
add comment reply

Our chickens as pets

Ron,

We are currently raising a house chicken. Long story, we got her in January when she was a day old. We had to perform some corrective foot surgery to keep her alive.

She is now flourishing but having lived in the house for the past 3 months (she was too little to put outside in our NH winters) she now refuses to leave the house. Add this to the fact that she has become pals with our dog (they sleep together) and we find ourselves with a house chicken.

She's a delight and no trouble at all. Rest assured this is one chicken who will never be invited to our diner table. :-)

I write about her on my blog www.simplethrift.wordpress.com

Wendy

Apr 4, 2012
by Ron Callari
Ron Callari's picture
add comment reply

Charlie the Chicken Pet

Wendy, thanks for sharing - Charlie sure lucked out in finding a household that loved him for his merits and not his light or dark meat! - Great story! Best, Ron

Apr 4, 2012
by DebbyBruck (not verified)
add comment reply

Save the Salt and Pepper

Dear Ron ~ I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story about your youth and friendship with chickens. I too love chickens for their friendliness, cuddly fluffed up feathers and ability to soothe troubled emotions. They give back in every way, if only you provide table scraps, fresh water, grains, shelter and a place for them to lay eggs.

I can imagine the impression on a little kid to learn that grandma planned to make his pet chicken dinner. I've also heard others tell the shock from seeing the chicken running around without a head. Maybe best to be vegetarian for many with a tender heart.

Here's my story on The LIttle Red Hen
http://debbybruck.hubpages.com/hub/Haiku-Chicken-Little

Blessings
Your friend Debby

Apr 5, 2012
by Ron Callari
Ron Callari's picture
add comment reply

Little Red Hen

Hey Debby, great to hear your "Little Ren Hen" tale - thx 4 sharing.

Post new comment

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.