When Bridger was just a little boy, one of his jobs on our little farm was to gather the eggs. He never liked the job, and I could never understand why until that one day when I accompanied him to show him what an easy and pleasant task he had. Unfortunately, we didn't have a hen house, which was an ongoing disagreement between the adults in the household, but I'm not EVEN going to go there today. Suffice it to say that the chickens ruled the farmyard, roosting wherever they pleased, and relieving themselves wherever they deemed it convenient, which did not limit them to the farm. The sidewalk seemed to be a favorite "rest stop." A-hem. But I digress. The chickens also laid eggs wherever they pleased, and it was up to us to discover those spots if we hoped to have eggs sizzling in the pan for breakfast.
There were nesting spots in between hay bales, against the shed walls, and even on the ground. Few of them used the nesting boxes provided. One of the hens' favorite spots was in the grainery.
Our grainery was a round metal building with a metal door that latched, which we just left open for easy access. I suppose the chickens thought of it as a gigantic self-feeder. It kept them out of the weather, and the eggs had a soft spot on which to land.
One day little Bridger came flying into the house. I had sent him out to gather eggs, but he hadn't been gone long. His eyes were wild with fear as he told me he'd been attacked by a chicken. "Oh, Bridger. Don't be silly. The chickens aren't going to hurt you. Just be brave, march in there, and grab the egg, and get out. Show them that you're the boss."
"Oh, brother, I'll just go out with you, and show you how easy it is."
All the way out to the farmyard, I tried to reassure him how simple this job really was. He scurried along, trying to keep up with my long strides. We all had jobs to do, and this little job was his. We couldn't have him crying about some silly old chicken every time we needed an egg.
"Here we go, Boo. We just go into the grainery; don't even look at the chicken. Just walk over to where she's nesting, and...
All of a sudden, there was a flurry of feathers and dust, and that little white hen turned into a feather-fueled fury. I spun on my heel, and tried to escape as quickly as I could without injury. I looked over my shoulder at my nemesis. She had her legs outstretched and her wings had her flapping toward my retreating backside. That chicken hit me in my upper back as I was shoving Bridger out the door. I grabbed his chubby little hand, and we ran back to the safety of the house.
"Well, I guess I was wrong," I laughed nervously. "I'd be scared to death of those things, too. I've never had that happen before." He smiled with relief.
From that point on, I assured him it would be okay to only gather the eggs that were unattended by the hens, the eggs that could be picked up without the wrath of our resident attack chickens. Until that day, I'd never really understood people's fear of birds. I have much more empathy now, thanks to that hot-headed hen those many years ago.