All Because of Chickens by G. L. Miller

chickens

 

Returning to the family homestead intensifies twelve-year-old Sammy’s longing for the family heritage—farming. But Dad’s ultimatum, “… no crops, no animals, no barn…” shows Dad wants nothing to do with farming, for himself or Sammy. Then why did Dad insist Sammy join a farming club?

Permission slips for Ag club summer projects are due. Sammy defends his project choice with, “Technically, Dad, chickens are birds not animals.” Miraculously, he wins Dad’s approval.

Sammy’s problems begin with the early arrival of his peeps and the loss of his best pals.   His ingenuity to care for his chicks, make a new friend, and design a compost bin win him a new name. His biggest challenge—can he butcher his roosters?

Summer’s many adventures include solving a mystery, fighting a hawk, and being disqualified at the County Fair.

At the end of the project, has he won…or lost…the thing he wanted most—Dad’s change of heart about farming?

Excerpt

During a lull in the suppertime conversation, Sammy found the courage to broach the subject. “Dad, Mr. Conklin said we had to bring our signed summer project paper to next week’s meeting.”

“And what have you chosen to do?” asked Dad, sipping his coffee.

“Raise chickens,” mumbled Sammy. Afraid of Dad’s reaction, he toyed with the last of the peas on his plate.

“What?” Dad almost sloshed his coffee as he set down the mug. “I thought you understood there would be no animals.”

“Yes,” Sammy admitted, “but I thought—”

Sammy saw Dad’s angry frown and tightly drawn lips. He decided to try a different approach. “Dad, I’m confused. You’re the one who wanted me to join the Ag club of CAYC, the County Agriculture Youth Club. You said you belonged as a boy. Surely you remembered there were summer projects?”

In silence Dad swallowed another sip of coffee. “I remembered,” he said. “But, I was hoping you would get interested in growing flowers for your mother or vegetables for the kitchen. Couldn’t you do that as your project?”

“Well, you said there would be no farming, either,” Sammy pointed out.

“What I meant by that was fields of plants, not just a few around the house or in a small garden.”

“In that case, yes, I probably could.” Then, with heroic effort he blurted, “But that really wouldn’t be any fun. All plants do is sit there. You have to water them and feed them and weed them. And they still…just sit there.”

“You have to feed and water chickens, too,” Mom gently reminded. “And clean their house and take care of them.”

“At least they move. And I could play with them. I know they’d be work, but I hope maybe some fun, too.”

“What made you decide on chickens?” she asked.

“Well,” said Sammy, “first I thought of a foal, but I knew Dad wouldn’t approve of that,” he added quickly, stealing a glance at his father. “Besides, we don’t have a barn or any place to put a young horse. True, during the summer he wouldn’t need much more than a lean-to. Still, I would hope to have him longer than just this summer…” Sammy’s voice trailed off.

“Then I considered a puppy.” How am I going to explain this to Mom? Sammy took a drink from his water glass and quickly got his thoughts together. “I would probably want to have him in the house, though. You know, to play with and sleep on my bed.   But dogs get fleas and shed their hair so I didn’t think you’d permit that.”

Mom’s smile confirmed his supposition. “So that’s when you thought of the chickens?” she asked.

Sammy nodded.

“But they’re still animals,” prodded Dad.

Turning his attention back to Dad, Sammy defended himself. “Not really, Dad. Technically, they’re birds.”

Sammy watched the astonishment in Dad’s face turn to amusement.

Technically, they are not birds, they are fowl,” Dad replied.

Embarrassment tightened Sammy’s jaw. “You’re laughing at me.”

Sammy felt Dad’s hand gently clasp his own, causing him to focus on what Dad was saying.

“Never, Sammy. I would never laugh at you. I love you. You are growing up and using words that surprise me.   I enjoy your ingenuity. I’m laughing in delight of you, but never at you.”

Sammy grinned and ducked his head.

Mom pushed back her chair and stood up. “Let me get dessert, and then you can tell us more about this project.”

“I’ll get my stuff.” Sammy ran to his room for his club materials and the form he and Gran had filled out earlier. He also swooped up his drawings and the copies of the Internet pages. Spreading everything out in front of his dad, he explained what Mr. Conklin was encouraging them to do.

“And Gran said I could use that old lumber behind her shed to make the house.   I mean, coop,” Sammy corrected himself.

“I thought I smelled my mother in this,” muttered Dad.

“Oh no, Dad,” Sammy hurried to set things straight. “I thought of all this myself. When I told her today, Gran asked me the same things you did. All she did was help me to look up some information on her computer and to fill in my form.”

Sammy looked through the papers he’d put on the table. Choosing two, he placed one before Dad.

“See, I’ve even drawn some plans for their coop,” Sammy said. Putting the second page on top, he explained, “And I have enough money in my bank to pay for the chicks, their equipment, and part of their food. I plan to sell their eggs to get more food money.”

Sammy watched Dad’s face for signs of approval. He didn’t realize he was holding his breath until Mom spoke.

“How many peeps are you thinking of getting?” she asked.

“Mr. Conklin said we can buy as few as twenty-four or twenty-five,” Sammy answered. “He’s bringing catalogs to the next meeting so we can see what breeds are available. But, I think I already know what kind I want.”

Sammy searched through his computer printouts. Pulling a couple of pictures from the stack, he handed one to Mom.

“Gran and I looked at different kinds on the computer,” he said. “These Golden Comets seemed to be the most interesting. You can see in the picture that the roosters are white and the hens are red.” Sammy chuckled, and then added, “With that sort of help, I won’t be asking a rooster why it isn’t laying an egg.”

“Good thinking,” agreed Dad. “A beginner needs all the help he can get.”

“That’s what Gran said,” admitted Sammy.

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Book Spotlight: Bone: Out of Boneville by Jeff Smith

boneAfter being run out of Boneville, the three Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone, are separated and lost in a vast uncharted desert.

One by one, they find their way into a deep, forested valley filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures…

Humor, mystery, and adventure are spun together in this action-packed, side-splitting saga. Everyone who has ever left home for the first time only to find that the world outside is strange and overwhelming will love Bone.

Age Range: 11 and up
Grade Level: 6 and up
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: GRAPHIX; First Edition edition (February 1, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0439706408
ISBN-13: 978-0439706407

PURCHASE HERE!

From the Family Bookshelf – September

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Hard to believe the summer came and went so quickly. Between vacation, sports camps, and vacation Bible school, it seemed summer was over before it got started. Suddenly, though, my girls have decided they would rather read on their own than together at night. Part of me is hurt, but the Lil’ Diva turned 12 last month and the Lil’ Princess switched to a new school where expectations are even higher, so it’s to be expected. They can’t remain babies forever.

We had started Scarlet by Marissa Meyer and Storyteller by Patricia Reilly, but now they are off reading other books, so not sure whether we will complete these or they will read them alone. The Lil’ Princess finished Falling in by Frances O’Roark Dowell this week. She loved it. The Lil’ Diva is reading Witchlanders by Lena Coakley. Dad has given up on reading lately. Other than his daily paper, his work hours have not allowed him to read for leisure.

I’m also reading a lot less than usual this year. It can’t be helped. My schedule is nuts. I try to read a tiny bit in the tub each night, but I’m also trying to make sure I get enough sleep now that I am getting up early with the girls. Here’s what I’ve read since my last post:

Strong Rain Falling by Jon Land (thriller)
Don’t Let the Wind Catch You by Aaron Paul Lazar (coming of age mystery)
Designed for Relationship by T.J. MacLeslie (Christian living)
Murder by Syllabub by Kathleen Delaney (cozy mystery)
Who I Be by Annie Brown (Christian living)

I’m currently reading the inspirational travel adventure memoir, Two Are Better by Tim and Debbie Bishop, and the historical novel, The Queen’s Vow by C. W. Gortner.

What have you been reading lately? Any favorites?

That’s it for this edition of From the Family Bookshelf. Keep reading!

Blame it on Barbara by CB Lilley

Blame it on BarbaraIn the sleepy town of Clarence, Indiana, a young girl lives a life of invisibility. Barbara Birnbaum is invisible to her parents, her siblings, and her peers. Pretty much the only time anyone notices Barbara is if they need someone to blame. Little does anyone know just how important Barbara will be.

Barbara’s grandmother, the one she is named after, comes to town and from then on in Barbara’s life is anything but boring. In addition to the fact that no one really seems to know much about Grandma, the Birnbaum’s life is suddenly tossed into chaos when their house is ransacked and Grandma is kidnapped. When Barbara meets Jesse, the new boy in town with a reputation for getting into trouble, the two of them become involved in a dangerous adventure that could cost them their lives and doom the entire free world.

What an outstanding debut novel from author CB Lilley! A cast of engaging and sometimes annoying characters combined with a riveting plot and loads of cloak-and-dagger adventure, awaits tweens and teens everywhere. While I spent some time wondering if this novel would have been even better if told entirely from Barbara’s point of view with her as the narrator, I would have missed the insights into Jesse gained by the third person omniscient POV. Jesse’s bad boy image works well against Barbara’s average just blending in existence, and what young person can’t appreciate Barbara’s small level of resentment towards the rest of her family who treat her as if she doesn’t exist. The Birnbaum world seems to revolve around her sister, Madison, the pretty one who wins all the awards. That, and trying to figure a way to put some distance between the Birnbaum twins who act as if they are one person because they are so eerily close.

My one tiny complaint is that the Birnbaum parents are portrayed as so oblivious to Barbara’s existence that they don’t even seem to get too worried when she’s gone for a few days. The ruse she used in the beginning worked, but I can’t imagine any caring parents not making sure to connect with  their daughter at least once during the time she’s away, especially when it appears that one of the family members was kidnapped from their home. However, I must admit that this seems to be a more normal portrayal of parents these days than the June and Ward Cleavers I grew up with. 

 Blame it on Barbara is a fast-paced, page-turning adventure that readers ages 9 to 14 will most certainly enjoy.  I’m eager to see what CB Lilley comes out with next.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Pizza Night Press
  • ISBN-10: 0615249353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615249353
  • SRP: $14.00


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