Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Chicken Tales

When Mom and Dad were first married (they were 18 and 19, respectively) they lived in the Basin near Old Ford. Dad went to school at the University of Tulsa. Mama stayed home (sometimes) and one day decided to fix Dad fried chicken for supper.

Now Mom had learned to cook at her mother’s knee, and could fry up some great tasting chicken. The only trouble was, she didn’t have an ax to kill the fowl.

So what did she do? What any self-respecting born-during-the-depression Okie would do. She rung that bird’s neck.

When Dad got home from school, she had fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy on the table.

How many eighteen-year-olds do you know who could do that?

I don’t pretend to know what all has to happen to take a chicken from the hen-house and get her on the table, but I know it has to do with giblet, innards and feather removal. Ick.

I can cut up a chicken (surprised to my MIL when G-Man and I were first married) and I have a wishbone piece! But I’m not sure how you get to the inside stuff you have to throw out.

To be honest, Mom, Grandma, Grandmother and Aunt Phyllis were all fantastic chicken fryers. Mom gave Phyllis the kudos for being the very best. I’m not sure if that was because her chicken was any better or if she did it to get Phyllis to fry the chicken most of the time. 🙂 Whatever it was, we were ALL glad she did.

A long time ago, Phyllis told me how to make the World’s Best Fried Chicken. Now I do it every 4th of July.

Want to give it a try? (You don’t have to wait for Independence Day.) Click here! PHYLLIS’S FRIED CHICKEN.

BTW: Have you butchered your own chickens? Tell me about it.

PS: #4–Still need a Father’s Day gift? How about this?


 Pretty cute, huh? 🙂


Designer Chicken House


When was the last time you were in a chicken hen house? Unless you gathered eggs just this morning, I’ve got you beat! I was in one yesterday. 🙂

Technically, it’s not a chicken house yet since it hasn’t had any chickens in it. (Except me.) It’s a gonna-be CH. That’s G-Man up there, putting a vent in the roof so the chickens won’t melt in the hot weather.

And, no, it’s not a chicken mobile home so it won’t always have wheels. It’s on a trailer because it’s going to my dad’s house sometime in the near future so he and his wife (and kids, I’m hoping!) will have organic fresh, fresh, fresh eggs.

One of the things I like best about Dad’s wife is her healthy way of feeding my dad. She likes organic and fresh and healthy. Smart lady! So she’s thrilled to have fresh eggs in the near future. (I’m hoping to cash in on a few eggs myself.)

My man was hard at work (hence the serious look) but he stopped for a moment so I could take his picture.

These are the chicken boxes (nests) and roosts. If you were a chicken, wouldn’t you want to live here? I would!

I’m thinking I might campagne for a potting shed made out of one of these buildings. With G-Man’s carpenter skills, it could be perfect!

This is the front door. The one the humans will use.

The little hole at the bottom is the door for the chickens. And the picture window is so they can see the lake. 😉 Not really. It’s so they won’t smother in the summertime. (They’ve made sure it’s breathable in there.)

  It’s a good-sized picture window, isn’t it? I hope the chickens enjoy their designer house, because I plan to enjoy their eggs.

When I was a little kid in Old Ford, we had chickens that lived in a house out behind our yard, but it wasn’t nearly as nice a chicken house as this one. There were several little brown hens and one big, mean rooster that lived there.

I stayed far away from that rooster because he liked to flog humans if he could.

Once the bad boy just smacked me on the knee with his wing and it felt like I’d skinned it on the sidewalk. It hurt!

Then one day, Grandmother was outside hanging out clothes on the line and the silly rooster snuck up on her and started the flapping-kicking-pecking-attack-thing he liked to do.

The next day we had chicken and noodles for dinner–courtesy of Mr. White Rooster. 🙂 Grandmother made the best noodles in the world! (Click on best noodles and it’ll take you to her recipe.) And Whitey wasn’t so bad himself.

Have you ever been in a chicken house? Did you ever chase your grandma’s chickens to see if they’d lay square eggs?

Want to compare notes?



Cocklebur Games

Dale, darlin'...

Image by Jeep Novak! via Flickr

When I was just a little girl, before my family moved to C-Town, we all lived at the Ford. Much of the time, my sister, Dad, Mom and I lived in a house with Grandmother and Granddad.

I remember it as being a wonderful place, probably because most of the people I knew there were related to me. And the ones who weren’t acted as if they were. 🙂

For some reason, Mom thought little girls should have long hair with lots of finger curls. With my naturally curly hair, I had them . . . in abundance.

Our big backyard had a swing set to play on and clothesline poles to climb. Behind the yard was a pasture with a hen-house and several old hens, then ran down to a tiny creek that was dry most of the time. Just past the creek was a little hill that curved along with the creek and to a little girl, just learning her letters, it looked like a monstrous U.

I had lots of cousins to play with, and most of them were boys. Do I need to mention that I wasn’t a girly girl? To be real honest, I was a tomboy. Big time.

I loved building roads in the dirt with the head of a broken hoe and driving little cars on it. Baseball was one of my favorite pastimes, and every year for Christmas I asked for (and received) a pair of six-guns like Dale Evans wore on TV.

I’d also get a doll. (I guess Mom kept hoping.) I climbed trees, ran races and had a great childhood.

Sometimes I played cocklebur games with my cousins. It’s an easy game to learn. Just pull up the whole weed and try to whack the others with them while not getting smacked. By the time we were through, my hair was totally tangled with cockleburs. The game was fun, but Mama had a horrible time getting them out. Especially when she was short on time. Luckily, she had a load of patience and very little temper.

With all my long hair, all I can tell you is it hurt anyway. A lot!

So did Mama cut my hair? Nope. She just told me to stop playing with cockleburs. I didn’t quit completely. I just started swinging and getting away faster. And having your oldest cousin on your side never hurts. 😉

A while after we started playing that game, my family moved to C-Town. The Ford moved not long after that, and the place where I grew up became the Ford State Park, and several years later closed altogether.

I wanted to take my son in to show him where we’d lived back in the day when we saw the gate was open once, but a state official said we couldn’t make it in our low slung car because of all the junk people had dumped over the years, which was why they had to close the park in the first place.

Who ever did the dumping deserves to have cockleburs tangled in their hair and a mean, short-tempered mama to get them out.