from the upcoming and untitled book about Northern and Mountain West Idaho
That Rooster Would Chase and Peck No More!
By Marlene Chandler of Weiser, Idaho
School days were started every year the day after Labor Day. There wasn’t any Preschool, Kindergarten, and there weren’t even many babysitters taking care of children while mothers were outside the home working for wages. They were home working hard to have a good clean place for the husband and children to come home to. Maybe as we came in the door on bread-making day, we could have a slice of homemade bread, fresh out of the oven dripping with homemade pure butter and homemade jam!
Winter was very different where I lived. It would be anywhere between 30° and 40° below 0. The snow would crust so much that we three children who started school that year could walk to school from the ranch, over the frozen snow and over fence posts and we wouldn’t sink in, until it thawed in May and beautiful springtime came creeping in slowly about June 1st through 10th. When all the crops were in and we could see the first start of alfalfa, grain, and hay, then we knew it really was spring. We would climb the ladder in the big old red barn, up to the hayloft and search for the mama cat and her new batch of baby kittens. Oh, what fun it was to just look until their eyes were open and then it was all right with mama cat if we very carefully picked them up and just loved them carefully. My Grandpa Hirschi loved cats, unlike most farmers and ranchers. He always had at least 10 or 12 running around by the outbuildings. He even put a bit of cream in the warm milk he fed them after milking their 30 cows morning and evening. I love cats and kittens to this day, no wonder.
Carefully, so he wouldn’t tear the wrapping, grandpa would lay it aside and after Christmas, grandma would get the ironing board out to do the weeks ironing and carefully iron each piece of Christmas wrap to use the next Christmas. Since they had 14 children, two died in infancy, they raised 12 children in a two-bedroom ranch home with an attic they fixed up for the boys. Amazingly, they had seven boys and seven girls and raised six boys and six girls after the deaths of the one little baby girl and baby boy.
They were an amazing family. My sweet mother was the oldest of the 13 brothers and sisters, so she knew from very young how to work. One really wonderful thing I remember is my grandpa and the boys did the outside farm work and grandma and the girls did the housework, cooking, and the chores outside like gathering eggs and feeding the chickens. They had one old rooster who when he was older was mean as could be. He chased me one time on the way to the outhouse and caught me before I got there, pecked me on one hand, made it bleed, and then another cousin on the arm. A week later, we kind of wondered what was in the stew pot that had simmered on the big black cook stove for almost a week. When we realized it was chicken and hadn’t been chased by the rooster for a few days, we knew when we enjoyed that meat and dumplings that the old rooster would chase and peck no more!