“It’s just a chicken,” the Country Boy told me. I disagree. This big boy, Foghorn Leghorn, is not just a chicken – he was Sheila’s baby boy, and she has entrusted him and his eight wives to me. He isn’t ‘just a chicken’, he’s a gift and a responsibility.

My friend Sheila was finally able to make a move back home to Texas several months ago. It was a dream of hers, and when the opportunity opened up, she jumped through that door and won’t look back. One of the casualties of the move meant there was no place for her small flock. Although they plan to come back to tend to their place here from time to time, she couldn’t take care of Fog and the girls every day. She had no choice but to find them a good home.

I love chickens, and was more than willing to offer them accommodations. In doing so, I knew that there would be a few initial fights between the Roos to establish pecking order. Now, you have to understand. I think Fog weighs in at about 15 pounds or so, but with the fullness of his feathers he looks roughly the size of a small calf. From the stories I’ve heard, he’s a scrapper and loves to tangle with the game roosters down the road. He’s also come very close to being arrested by the local law enforcement for fighting. His spurs measure approximately 2” to 3”, and they are a deadly razor sharp. With his history, it was amazing to see him settle right in Randy’s arms – once when we went to get him, and again last night when we found him trying to settle in for the night half way down the lane and up against the fence. With a warning that staying there was a good way to get eaten, Randy reached down, held him close and took him back to the coop. Not a single feather was ruffled, and Fog eventually laid his big head on Randy’s shoulder during the ride.

Yes, there were a few fights. We watched, trying our best to hold in the laughter, as Big Boy, our smallest Banty (who weighs in at maybe 3 pounds) took on Fog with a vengeance. They both held their own, and after four or five rounds with twenty minute breaks between them, they both wandered off in search of their own entertainment. We still have to deal with fights between Smooch and Maurice, but since Smooch is already blind in one eye from fights, and Maurice is the epitome of a ‘big chicken’, I don’t see those lasting quite as long.

Whether chickens, cows, pigs, dogs, cats or people, the whole premise behind Paradise Plantation is one of hospitality. We love to have visitors; whether for an hour of lemonade, cookies and a good visit, for a ‘writer’s retreat’, a long weekend or even a week or two, having guests is a joy for us. And taking in an ‘orphan’ or three or ten is just taken in stride. Regardless of who or what comes to the farm, we strive to make them all feel welcome and at home. We even accept some of those who come uninvited, such as the four kittens that were recently dumped in our front pasture, and have noticed lately that Artful Dodger, another gift from a friend, has had a date or two that he’s brought into the barn for a nice dinner.

To offer hospitality doesn’t mean you have to get out the good silver and china. It just means having an open heart, a big smile and a willingness to share your time. As my brother quickly found out during his last visit, sometimes it even means having to pitch in, but he knows he is always welcome.

The welcome mat is out at Paradise Plantation. Feel free to come and visit. And if you need a home for your chickens, we’ll take them, too. We apologize, but the dog and cat rooms are currently full to overflowing capacity. But if you have a few cows you want to give away, we’ve got plenty of pasture just waiting. All you have to do is call.

p.s. Thank you, Sheila, for your confidence in us to care for your babies. Trust me – they will be spoiled, and well cared for. Just remember, you are always granted visitation rights!