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Hartselle Enquirer

Sitting hen sets field on fire

By Clif Knight

It happened on a red hot Dog Day in 1947 when a barren hen was sitting on a nest full of eggs waiting to be hatched. Loitering nearby were two like-minded farm boys, namely Byron Cockrell and Clifton Knight, looking for something exciting to do. They were left behind on the Cockrell farm as 12-year-old caretakers while their parents were away visiting other relatives.

The last words they heard from their parents were: “You take care of things and don’t get into trouble.”

“That means we’re free do whatever we want to as long as we don’t tear up something or hurt ourselves,” Byron pointed out. “Sounds good to me” added Clifton. “Let’s check out the barn loft and pitch a game or two of horse shoes.”

The barn loft was scorching hot and chased us to the shade trees in the front yard. After more than an hour in the shade, were bored and looked to making a change.

“How about we check out the shop building and see what we can find in there,” Byron suggested.

The shop was equipped with a furnace, anvil and hammers, which were used to sharpen and make replacement parts for farm equipment. It also had storage space for anything used on the farm. “I spotted a bushel basket nailed to the wall under a window opening and questioned what it was used for.”
“It’s a sitting hen’s nest.” Byron pointed out. The hen will sit on the eggs until they hatch out. Then the baby chicks will be placed in a coop until they are large enough to manage on their own.”

“How many eggs does she have, “Clifton wanted to know,” I’ll count them if she’ll let me,” Byron volunteered.

The hen stiffened when Byron reached underneath her and pecked his hand. “Let me help you,” Clifton said. “Ouch, She pecked me, too. See if you can get her off the nest long enough for us to get a count.”

“Let me go inside and get a match.” Byron said, “That’ll move her.” That, she did, when he struck the match and touched her tail feathers with it. She flew out the opening in the wall instead of the front door and spread fire throughout the two-acre patch of broom adore it could be stopped.