No advice needed
A lot of folks learn I was raised on a farm out in the wilderness of Salem Township and assume I never had much exposure to modern ways or a diversity of people.
That's just not true. I encounter many different types of folks while growing up on the farm. I remember one fellow in particular
One day back around 1981, this sharp-looking city fella drove up the driveway and jumped out of his fancy-looking vehicle. Back then there weren't a lot of what we call SUVs now, but this shiny four-door thing kind of resembled what we'd call a cross-over now.
He nearly panicked when he saw some of that Salem Township road dust on the hood of his station wagon/car/van.
He was what we called a "Yuppie" back then. You might remember them. Young Urban Professionals. I think they're called hipsters now.
Anyway, this fella asks me if we owned any chickens.
I said we did indeed have a few chickens around.
"I'd like to buy some baby chickens," he said. "We're moving out here from the city and we want to get back to Mother Earth. Grow our own food. Live off the land. That kind of thing."
I asked how young he wanted his "baby" chickens.
How young do they get?" he asked.
"Well, there's the little chicks they're a few days old and then there's the eggs. They're a might younger than the little chicks.," I said.
I thought I was being a bit funny but the yuppie didn't laugh.
"I know what an egg is and I know what a little chick is," he said kind of snotty-like. "I have a B.S., an M.S, and a PhD. Do you even know what those letters stand for, farm boy?"
I pushed my ball cap back to "hick position" and answered, "I would guess those letters stand for bull****, more of the same and piled higher and deeper."
He huffed and asked if I had any little chicks for sale or not.
"I guess I could round you up about 10 or 15," I said.
I gathered up about 12 little chicks and carried the box over to the yuppie.
"Now, you'll need to ," I started to say.
"I think I know how to raise a chicken," he said. "We've very serious about living a country lifestyle. We've read a lot of books. I can handle this."
I looked into the fancy vehicle and saw his wife sitting with a tissue over her nose. I doesn't know what city folks expect to smell when they park next to the manure spreader.
Before he left, he asked if I might sell him some seed corn. I said I could spare some and gave him a small paper sack about half full of seed corn.
So the fella drove off with his box of "baby chickens" and seed corn and I didn't give it much thought.
Until a few weeks later when the same guy drives up the road again.
"I'd like to buy another batch of chicks," he said.
"I guess you're pretty serious about this chicken business," I said. "Are you going to be selling eggs?"
He just muttered something as I gathered up another batch of chicks.
Again, I offered some advice on keeping the little chicks healthy and on the path of being healthy, tasty, big chickens.
And again, he cut me off before I said three words.
"I'm an educated man," he snapped. "Frankly, how hard can it be? You can do it. I can do it."
He was about to leave when he turned around and asked if I had any seeds he could plant to grow green beans.
It just happened I did and even though the guy was a bit of a jerk, I gave him a good deal on the bean seeds and off he went.
It wasn't a full month before he was back again. He wanted more little chicks and some seed potatoes.
I sold him another box of chicks and a 20-pound bag of seed potatoes.
I asked if he had any questions and again he blathered on about his eight years of higher education, his four-point-five high school grade point average and his extensive list of highly educated friends.
"I'm not stupid," he shouted as he got back in his yuppie-mobile and sped off.
Now, I never said he was stupid and never implied it -- in front of him. I just shrugged and went back to feeding the cows.
Two weeks later he was back.
"I need another box of little chicks," he said.
"You must be getting quite the herd of chickens at your place," I said. "You'll make a fortune in the egg business."
His eyes started to well up and he sat down on the front tire of the nearby tractor.
"I'm a smart man," he said. "I was my high school graduating class valedictorian. I have a bachelor's degree in philosophy, I have a master's degree in political science. I earned a PhD. for my work in alternative psychology methods
"I'm a smart man. I can do this. I can be self-sustaining"
I handed him another box of chicks.
I didn't offer any advice this time and that seemed to set him off.
"All right! All Right! Tell me. Tell me how to do it," he said nearly crying. "I planted the corn and it came up just fine. I planted the beans and they're already in bloom. I planted the potatoes and they're growing like crazy, but"
I asked, "But what?"
He grabbed me by both arms and cried, "I've planted those baby chickens three times and not a single one sprouted"
The author is the editor of the CLARION NEWS.