Monday, April 19, 2010

Down on the Farm

I was born in a farming community, but I've lived in the city most of my life. I never had farm chores to do, but I grew up around those who did. I learned how to milk a cow, but I did it for fun not because I had to. I enjoyed feeding my aunt's goats, but I was on the other side of the fence. I simply pulled up hunks of long grass and fed it to them through the chicken wire. I loved listening to them crunch the sweet-smelling grass and feeling the vibration of their chewing on my fingertips.

My aunt taught me how to do many things on her small farm, including how to gather eggs. The chore frightened me, especially after receiving a few sound pecks on my arms and wrists from the hens for intruding on their nests.

When I visited my daughter in Seattle after she'd given birth to her second child, I was given the job of gathering eggs from the wild ducks which frequented the pond behind their house. A nesting hutch and been built for them, and my daughter and her husband gathered the eggs and sold them on the side. Many people prize duck eggs for their use in cooking. Apparently, their large yolks make cakes and other baked goods rise into fluffy deliciousness.

I disliked gathering duck eggs even more than hen's eggs. The job was noisier; wild ducks are a loud lot. The chore was slimier and dirtier. I wore a pair of oversized boots to protect my feet from slipping and slopping in the mud. I wore a pair of gloves to protect my hands as I gathered the doo-doo covered balls. The eggs were a bear to wash and clean. Gentle scrubbing was required to get them ready for selling. Why am I telling you this? Because Im planning to paint a rooster, and I don't want my negative experiences to effect the final product.

The rooster is the pet of a veterinarian, and a daughter of a friend of mine. He is saucy and brilliant and as proud as he can be. When I saw a photo of "Chicken Nugget," I knew I had to paint him. He's truly grand and in a class all by himself. "This ain't no ordinary rooster, folks!"

The only thing missing in my reference photos are the feet. Now if I can just find a good picture of a rooster's talons, I'm good to go!