Thank you for finding That Old House amidst the chaos of the Internet. We are delighted that you are here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ruffled Feathers

In 1938, when she was only 17, my mother left
her family's Brooklyn home for the wilds of Long Island's 
North Shore, to help her older brother manage a small chicken farm. 
The farm was an experiment that only lasted a couple of years.
During those years, my Mom met my Dad, and the rest -- as they say -- was history.

But Mom never lost her love for chickens.
We four kids grew up steeped in chicken lore.  We understood about candling eggs, what a blood spot meant, and how a chicken can drown by sitting in a puddle.  That hens will peck one of their own to death if they smell blood on her, and that the way to get a mama to adopt a motherless chick is to touch both her own chicks and the orphan with a drop of iodine, so they all smell the same.

We also knew what really happens when a chicken's head is chopped off.

The other day I roasted a couple of cut-up chickens, and I thought of my Mom, because when she'd unwrap a cut-up bird from the market she'd invariably cluck her tongue and remark, "These parts are not from the same hen!  Nothing matches!"

My husband Howard likes that story.

One of the few reminders of the chicken farm that my Mom kept was her wire egg basket.

I asked for it when I was in my early 20s, and Mom gave it to me.  I painted it white.
Turned out Mom hadn't wanted me to paint it, and she took it back.

And now I've got it again.  I'll leave it in its now-old white paint.

It will go back to work as a magazine holder.
It mostly held knitting books and needlework magazines when Mom used it.

I'm not much of a knitter anymore, but I love this old wire basket and I've got more magazines than any sane woman should have,
and I'm sure they will be very happy to live out their useful days in an old egg basket.
Even if it is painted.


Meanwhile, speaking of new life (I did mention baby chicks) --
look what is poking through the dirt at That Old House:



It's almost Spring.  Sing Hallelujah-- Cass

And visit White Wednesday at Faded Charm blog; go find inspiration.  Click here!

 For other happy signs of Winter's winding-down, visit Outdoor Wednesday at
A Southern Daydreamer blog.  Susan has trees in bloom!  Click here!

 Note: All images not from my own camera are
in the public domain or used with permission.


  1. How cool on the shoots! I will have to go outside and check to see if I have any hints of spring yet, I could sure use the excitement. Love your egg basket and that is too funny about your mothers comments and her taking the basket back for a bit. LOL! :))

  2. I don't even want to know what a blood spot in an egg means,so please don't elaborate. Yes, spring is coming sooner or later. I've been getting a little jealous of all the southern girls talking about their flowers starting to bloom. It will be our turn soon.

  3. What a great old egg basket. I need to find one of those for when I gather eggs. I have an old one but the openings are too large and some of the eggs slip through. Isn't it exciting when the first shoots poke through. Spring is almost here. Tempting to start setting plants out but I know better so I will satisfy my spring fever with planting a few cold season seeds. I am having a giveaway over on my Gloryfeathers blog if you are interested. Blessings to you.

  4. I'm with Pam on that statement..
    but I know all about the fickleness of Springtime in the South.. Here today.. gone tomorrow..
    hello heat and humidity..
    for me, I'endure the drab browness just a bit longer..and maybe a few more snow storms..
    because I know when the rest of the country is sweltering and melting from that heat..
    I'll be out and about enjoying Springtime in the, calm , collected..
    camera in hand,busily clicking away at the awesomeness of a real live floral fanasty!
    warmest hugs..

  5. I'm glad you got that wire egg basket - it looks right at home with the magazines.
    Do you really think spring is here? Those shoots like like they could duck down underground if it snows again....

  6. Hallelujah!
    Great post, and gave me a little chuckle because I have a white basket very similar to yours that I keep magazines in too (yes, I too have way too many!).

  7. Cass, I love this story, and I love this basket, things like these are so precious to us.


  8. Very interesting post...especially about putting the iodine on the baby chicks. Not very useful for me, but fascinating! I love the wire has found it's permanent home in your pretty sun room.

    I was thinking about going out back to see if I had any shoots coming up...but I'm afraid it's a little early and upcoming frosts can hurt them, so I'd rather not know. Are these daffodils?


  9. The iodine trick was an interesting fact.
    In my next life if I raise chicks, I'll remember it. ;0)

  10. What a great post, very the old egg basket and it's history...oops white paint and

  11. I grew up with chickens too. I can't tell you how many pecks on the hand I got reaching under chickens that wanted to KEEP their eggs! I LOVE your old wire egg basket. I wish I had one from the farm...all gone now...barns and coops..and the house was burned. I can't wait to ssee you chicks..and your coop! Hugs-Diana

  12. Loved your cute little story! The egg basket is so pretty and just perfect for holding your 'zines!

  13. What a lovely story about your mom and the egg basket. It looks cute holding the magazines. Looks like spring is in your neck of the woods.

  14. Enjoyed this post. I remember what happened when the chicken's head was cut off :-O, and any eggs with a red spot got pitched.
    Thanks for the memories.

  15. loved reading about your mom and her chicken lore! The basket has to be such a cherished treasure!

  16. What a great treasure is that egg basket. And things are sprouting on the prairie as well!

    Spring IS coming!

  17. Hi Cass ~ I'm visiting via White Wednesday, and when your header popped up, my jaw dropped. What an amazingly beautiful house you have!!! I just love it!! I have an egg basket like yours, too, which I set out on my front porch in the summertime. :) Adore it's simplicity...

    xxoo laurie

  18. How lovely to have such wonderful memories attached to your basket, something like that is truly priceless! Glad to hear that Spring has just about sprung there, we already have snowdrops, crocus and aconites in abundance! xxx

  19. Hi Cass! Thanks for sharing this beautiful story of your mother with us! I love the little egg basket. I'll try not to think about what happens to a chicken when it's head is cut off;0)

  20. Cass, I have the egg-zact same basket I use every day to gather eggs from our six little hens aka The Girls. Carl found it in a dumpster at work, can you imagine?? I grew up with chickens all my life, too. Your basket is much prettier in white though, mine is unpainted. And thank you for showing me some green sprouts popping up, we're in for another snowstorm to add to the 3' still on the ground.

  21. What a sweet story. I love your Mom's egg basket! Even if you did paint it white ;) I can't believe your snow is melted enough to have bulbs sprouting! We still have way too much snow up here in Mass.

    New England Style

  22. What a fun chicken story and great memories, Cass. I love your egg basket! Those sprouts are certainly a welcome site.

  23. What a great story. I have an old egg basket too. Check out my eggs that I just put on the White Wednesday #90.


Thank you for visiting That Old House; it's always exciting to find new comments -- they are treasured! Because of increasing spam, I have reluctantly eliminated "Anonymous" commenting. Legitimate anonymous commenters, please forgive me! You might try using "Open ID" instead. Blogger's spam software worked for a good long time, but, sadly, no longer.