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A quilt of chickens and blessings

Published on 30 October 2017

I have chickens on the living room wall. My husband is disgusted by chickens. “It’s a quilt,” I say, “Get over it. Why do you hate chickens so much?” I think his objection is “We are blessed” embroidered on the quilt next to the chicken fabric seems like an oxymoron.

Chickens and blessings, in his opinion, should never belong in the same hemisphere. He reminds me, “Chickens don’t know when to crow.” Which was true of ours at least. They crowed at 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 2:15 a.m., 2:30 a.m. … they weren’t terribly sun position-oriented.

This year I opted to raise guinea hens – a skittish, squawking variety. I went on a business trip for a few days and came home to find the hen house door open and the birds gone. My husband blamed it on the grandkids and raccoons. He’s not, I reminded him, above suspicion.

That’s why I believe when he makes a quilt he can put whatever the heck he wants on it – but since hell hasn’t frozen over yet, I’ll make it with chickens if I want to. This is how chickens on the wall came to be: Last year, as my family gathered for Thanksgiving, we took a large square of muslin and some fabric pens and wrote down things we were grateful for on the muslin.

Then I used the muslin as quilt backing, created a quilt top for it out of chicken-printed fabric and topped it off with “We are blessed” embroidery. This year, I plan to pull out the same quilt, pass around the fabric pens and write more blessings on the backing. We’ll add to it every year. It’s a new tradition – and what better way to celebrate Thanksgiving tradition than with chickens?

The whole Thanksgiving feast focus is its cousin the turkey. It’s a stretch, maybe, but there is a correlation – with a little spray paint, I think I could get any chicken to look like a turkey.

Speaking of spray paint, I went out to the corrals many years ago and found green spray paint everywhere – on posts, on shop doors, on hay bales, on shed walls, on tires. I immediately went looking for our 10-year-old.

“Will,” I said, “do you know anything about all that green paint on the corrals?” And he was quiet just a moment too long before he replied, “How much trouble would I be in if I do?”

Yes, green spray paint – I should list that with my blessings on the quilt this year. Other blessings could include Andy Cooper, a gentleman I met in Tennessee who grazes dairy cows and spent a morning with me; Doug Syryczuk from Wisconsin, who I interviewed about his dairy ration as he packed his silage pile; Gary and Clay Alexander, chicken and beef raisers in South Carolina who took a morning to show me their new pivot development; Dale Fleming from Minnesota, who educated me about weed-free hay; Larry Echols in West Virginia, who made his adult kids stand still long enough to get a photo for me; Steven Redd in Utah, who gave our photographer full access to his cattle drive and was a great resource; Dick Wittman, a business management consultant who shared a wealth of experience for the women in agriculture article (No skirting the issue: Women in agriculture); Craig Stoltzfus, Doug and Randy Eldred, Richard Knight, Ray Robinson and many others who this year opened their homes and their businesses to allow me (and by extension, you) the chance to look at their operations.

And I appreciate my friends from ag forums who tell me “how it is” in the field, and many of you who send me updates from your parts of the country and your lives when you enter our puzzle contest each month. I feel like I have personal relationships all over this continent, and I’m very grateful for that. I feel like crowing. Even at 2 in the morning.

Yup, you’re going right up there on the wall on the back of that chicken blanket. Consider yourself quilted.  end mark

Lynn Jaynes
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