Farm Life from the Farmer’s Wife: Chicken Catching with Shannon Taylor Vannatter

Today’s Farm Life story comes from author Shannon Vannatter. Not only is she sharing her comedic escapade catching chickens, she’s doing a giveaway. The details are at the end of this post!

Though I was born in rural Arkansas, we moved to Indiana when I was a baby since my dad worked on the pipeline. From Indiana to Michigan then Illinois before pipeline worked dried up when I was seven. But there was a housing boom in Atlanta, so we moved there where daddy worked as a carpenter and hung sheet rock.

Every summer, we visited my grandparents in Arkansas. I loved those visits. But I was horrified when I was twelve when my parents decided to move home. My favorite cousins were staying in Georgia and all my friends were there.

Once we moved, I tried to console myself with being near the rest of our extended family, but I had a hard time fitting in and suffered from major culture shock. I was used to living in a neighborhood with lots of kids and a McDonald’s just around the corner. At our new home, the nearest neighbors with a girl my age were a quarter of a mile away. And the closest Big Mac was thirty minutes away. I was certain my life was over.

Basketball ruled and I had no desire to play, though I constantly heard what a great ball player my mom was. Since I didn’t play, the coach asked me to be the bookkeeper. It was a way to fit in, go to all the games, and eyeball boys from other schools.

During my eighth grade year, the basketball team needed new uniforms. Since the coach raised chickens, he came up with the perfect plan for the players to earn the needed funds–catching the doomed creatures. Thank goodness I didn’t play basketball.

My knowledge of the raising part is sketchy, but I’ll try to explain. Mile long metal buildings with enormous fans in each end house the chickens. Poultry companies, like Tyson, bring young chickens and drop them off. Then they must be fed and taken care of.

When it’s hot, raisers must walk the chickens. The first time I heard this, I imagined collars and leashes. But in reality, chickens are so stupid, they hump up in piles when it’s hot and smother. So, people have to walk amongst them to keep them stirring and moving.

After the chickens are grown, the Tyson truck comes back to pick them up and take them to the chicken plant where they end up in those nice cellophane-wrapped packages of boneless, skinless breasts where they belong.

To my horror, my parents decided my job as the scorekeeper for the basketball team, required my participation in the fundraiser. My insistence that I didn’t wear a uniform, therefore I shouldn’t have to raise money, fell on deaf ears.

Both raised on a farm, my parents grew up picking whatever needed picking, hauling whatever needed hauling, milking whatever needed milking, and catching whatever needed catching. They told those stories about walking barefoot to school, in the snow, and uphill both ways.

Catching chickens seemed the perfect opportunity, to them, for me to experience some of the old ways. I begged and pleaded to no avail. The bus loaded to take the basketball team to the chicken house with me on it. Several dedicated parents and teachers went also. Clearly, they had no life.

All too soon, I became intimately acquainted with poultry. We all charged inside the chicken house, through the rancid waste of thousands of hens. We grabbed whatever chickens happened to come our way by whatever chicken part we could seize. We jerked them upside down and hung onto their legs.

Our objective, to get at least two fowl in each hand and deliver the hapless hens to the loaders, who put them into cages. Some of the more experienced adults actually got four birds in each hand.

I learned when you jerk a chicken up by its feet, it emits a disgusting substance, which goes straight up in the air, then lands somewhere on the catcher. While this phenomenon takes place, the bird pecks mercilessly at the hand of the catcher and tries to loosen its feet to claw with ruthless talons.

This escapade began with my makeup perfectly applied and every hair in place. At thirteen, my goal was to look good for the boys on the basketball team. Afterward, chicken emissions had soiled off my makeup, coated my hair, and left me reeking.

As soon as the bus dropped me off, I began my tale of woe, whining and moaning for my parents’ benefit, while heading for the bathtub. Once clean, though I didn’t feel really clean for at least a week, I told my parents of my many lessons learned.

“You’ve both earned my respect and understanding for your long-suffering childhoods and how hard you worked.” My rehearsed speech seemed to impress them. Surely they wouldn’t make me go again. The next week found me on a bus, headed for the chicken house.

With two more chicken catching adventures looming, I considered running away. To my surprise, my parents decided to join us for the third escapade. I never decided if they felt nostalgic for the old days or if guilt assailed them for making me go.

After my parents re-experienced this chapter of their lives, they took pity on me and thankfully, I caught my last chicken that night.

Looking back, I hesitantly confess that catching chickens was worth the wisdom gained. My experience with repulsive physical labor, no pay and not even a basketball uniform to show for my effort, helped my parents instill character in me.

The encounter with poultry also increased my respect for my parents. I no longer make fun of the stories they tell. They really did have long-suffering childhoods. I admit that the adventure definitely helped me understand how easy my childhood truly was. I only admit this because as an adult, no one can make me go back to that chicken house.

Though I still don’t like chickens and I’m afraid of cows, country life has grown on me. I live across a hayfield from my parents. There’s a McDonald’s ten minutes away now. The nearest city with a population of seven thousand has all the conveniences, but it would be way too big for me to live in.

A Texas Holiday Reunion coverHis Christmas Homecoming 

With her foreman out of commission, Resa McCall needs horse trainer Colson Kincaid to run her family ranch through the holidays. But having the handsome single dad back in Bandera, Texas, is unsettling. Colson broke Resa’s heart years ago, and she can’t risk getting close again. Still, working with him and bonding with his sweet little girl is making the ranch feel merry and bright. Being at Resa’s side stirs up emotions Colson thought were long gone. But he has a powerful secret that could keep them apart forever. Can Colson give Resa the one Christmas present that might finally bring them back together—the truth?

Get your copy now:

A Texas Holiday Reunion on Christianbook                 A Texas Holiday Reunion on Amazon

Shannon is giving away copies of A Texas Holiday Reunion. Here are the giveaway details:

Leave a comment to enter the drawing for a copy of A Texas Holiday Reunion. Six copies will be split among names drawn during the blog tour from Oct 18 – Dec 8. One winner will get to pick the theme for a custom made memory board personally crafted by the author. Deadline Dec. 8th. Winners will be revealed on the author’s blog on Dec 10th. Go to her website and sign up for her newsletter to enter more giveaways and get a free book download.

Follow her blog tour for more chances to win A Texas Holiday Reunion:

Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife/award winning author. Me tealShe once climbed a mountain wearing gold wedge-heeled sandals which became known as her hiking boots. Shannon writes inspirational contemporary romance and it took her nine years to get published in the traditional market.

Shannon hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as her characters struggle with real-life issues. Their journeys, from ordinary lives to extraordinary romance through Christ-centered relationships, demonstrate that love doesn’t conquer all—Jesus does. In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her family, flea marketing, and doing craft projects.

Thank you so much, Shannon, for sharing your chicken story with us and the lessons you learned. I hope you all will leave a comment for her and enter her giveaway!









21 thoughts on “Farm Life from the Farmer’s Wife: Chicken Catching with Shannon Taylor Vannatter

  1. Elle E. Kay says:

    Just spent time catching chickens last Thursday to move them to our new home. Then we had to catch some of them again on Saturday to take to auction. I don’t mind it so much, but my hubby isn’t a fan of the adventure. Some of them are fairly easy to catch, but some really fight you!


  2. Sylvia Miller says:

    You certainly have good experiences from which you can draw information for your books. My younger sister and I were born in Tennessee, my older sisters in Alabama. From Tennessee we moved to Texas, from there to North Carolina. This is where we have lived ever since. Both of my parents were raised in minister homes, so moved around quite a lot to the places their denominations assigned. Some people love moving every few years. I do not think I would like that.


    • svannatter says:

      I’ve moved as an adult 3 times within a 2 mile radius. I don’t like moving. But I’m very happy where I’ve landed. Maybe I need to have a chicken catching adventure in a future book.


  3. janet estridge says:

    At one time, my husband and I had 100 chickens. They would lay, blue, green, white, and brown eggs. Some of the eggs had double and triple yolks. We don’t live on a farm but have an acre lot. It just goes to prove, you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.


  4. lib1lady says:

    At one time my husband and I had 100 chickens. They laid blue, green, white, and brown eggs. Some of them had double and triple yolks. It just goes to prove that you can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy.
    Janet E.


  5. lindamoffitt02 says:

    Thanks for sharing this book on your blog. Looks like a great read. Eggs that are different colors and/or have more than one yolk or that has a weird colored yolk freak me out. LOL I guess i’m a city girl.


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