If you have ever been around kids or animals, you have stories to tell, crazy stories. I’ve had goats on picnic tables and cars, a wood duck in my chimney hearth, and opossums in my office. Once at breakfast my wife and I could hear our 5-year-old son jumping on the bed above. Suddenly, there was a crash and a bunch of debris on the kitchen table. When we looked up, we saw his leg poking through the ceiling. It disappeared just as quickly and I don’t remember either of us getting up. Eventually, I had to investigate.

Our house is 150 years old, with a stone basement we refer to as “Salamander City.” It also has those round vents in the floor with the outer ring that slides back and forth to let more or less heat in. The center is a decorative plate that can be removed to allow a stovepipe to be inserted. So my son jumped off the bed and landed in such a way as to flip this lid up while his leg went through the center (he was unhurt). Below, in the kitchen, was a false ceiling that was now lying on my breakfast.

I couldn’t believe the odds of that happening, but was reminded of this story two nights ago when I came home for supper and saw my son coming from the chicken house with a bucket. He comes up to me and says, “Dad, there’s a chicken in there hanging by a chain.” Raising six kids has given me a fair share of surprises, but this was a new one. “Ok, you put these tomatoes in the cooler and I’ll check it out.” Sure enough, in the back of the coop was a chicken, caught by its wing, suspended in mid-air by a chain. I’m guessing you have some questions about this? First off, the chicken was fine. I folded her back up real gentle and rotated the hook off her wing bone and put her to water.

To understand how this could be, I have to explain. Like most people my age, I was raised by depression-era parents, who did not carelessly throw things away. In my shop, I have lots of cubby holes, baby food jars and tins full of all manner of “I might use this sometime” stuff. There’s one with trampoline fabric, rubber from a basketball, metric bolts from kids' toys, handlebar grips from bicycles, banding metal, electrical ends, and even a coffee can of bent nails. I wouldn’t classify myself as a hoarder, mind you, just, well — practical. This brings us to our fowl mystery (no pun intended).

Are you familiar with those little chains that come with fluorescent lights? I save ‘em. The last ones were used by my son as “log chains” for his toy tractors. When we got our broiler chickens, we needed a heat lamp to keep the chicks warm, and it needed to be adjustable. Whatever to use? Oh, lookie here. I knew there was a reason I was saving these. Once the broilers were big enough, we removed the lamps but left the chains without ever considering what physics might be demonstrated in that quiet little shed. Somehow that chicken must have leaped from the roost and the little hook at the end met up with the joint in the chicken’s wing and slid right in. As I said, she was fine and there was no open wound, but it got me to thinking “What are the odds?”

A friend of mine recently said, “There are no guarantees in life.” I laughed and said “Wanna bet? Because I guarantee that if you have to climb a ladder to screw drywall back into the kitchen ceiling and you have to use your left hand and hold the piece in place with your head and you have not checked the power in the battery of the cordless drill — it will be dead. I can also guarantee you that if you intend to pull on an electrical cord, chain, hose, cable or rope, and you cannot see the end, it will catch on something. I could go on and on, but as I say — kids and animals never let you get too routine. Until next time.