Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Chicken Lessons From Along Shade of Death Road

©Bert Gildart: Though my posts are generally about Airstream travel, national parks, and the outdoors in general, while back here on the East Coast I’ve been covering a number of things that are of great interest to us. These are subjects that are highly photogenic and have the associated pleasure of being topics enjoyed by members of our extended family.

Firebird, a Rhode Island Red

Firebird, a Rhode Island Red

As those of you know who follow this blog, these subjects are ones we’ve encountered while on what is really a whirl wind visit. Most recently I covered mushrooms while on a walk with family members at Lake George in New York.

One subject that seems to be of almost universal interest for children (and us older children, too!) is the raising of chickens. That’s something that Halle (age 7) back in Montana is learning about and something grandchildren out here in New Jersey along Shades of Death Road have been learning about. They’ve been doing so now for a number of years, and from previous visits, we’ve made a number of posts. (*History of Shades of Death ; *Leaves Fall …; *New Jersey History .)


Chickens, I’ve just learned, come in more varieties than I ever realized–and include such interesting as the Wyandottes and the Speckled Sussex. Species Kelsey (age 12, Kyle (age, 9) and Kory (age 6) have acquired now include the Rhode Island Red, Araucana Americana (the Easter Egg chicken), and the most unusual Polish Bantam, which Kelsey is displaying. All together they have dozens of chickens, and almost all of them have names. The Polish Bantam has eyes alright, but how in the world it makes use of them through all those feathers is question those steeped in evolutionary science might best answer.

But the interesting result of all these varieties is that they make interesting and very instructional components of a person’s upbringing. Though Kelsey can’t say exactly why she likes chickens, she thinks “they’re cool,” and says she likes all the different varieties. Her cousin, Sarah (another grandchild), who lives nearby, agrees, and says she wouldn’t mind having a chicken or two. She say everyone enjoys hearing their crowing–and that’s certainly true of me, as my parents often had chickens.

Though Kelsey, Kory and Kyle live on several acres, they are surrounded by old farms and some are still in production. But not all are generating produce–and not all people feel the transformation from farm land to commercial land has been a good thing.

This morning, Kyle and I took a 7-mile long bicycle ride along Shades of Death Road to Ghost Lake where we met a farmer who once owned acres along this fabled road. He said he was sorry to see all the changes. He said he wished he had not sold out, particularly now that he sees some of the operations that have moved in.

Softball, a Polish Bantam chicken, and Kelsey

Softball, a Polish Bantam chicken, and Kelsey

As Kory and I rode along here and there we could see old junk cars and in one area, there is a huge pile of red sod that spreads over an acre. The red sod is used for professional baseball fields, and as a result, periodically, huge semi-trucks drive along the road. It’s a way of life, sure, and one that people have either gotten use to–or else have moved away from. However, drivers of these huge trucks seemed courteous, something that is not true in many cases where Janie and I live. This morning as Kyle and I rode our bikes, trucks moved way over, and all slowed down. Most drivers waved.

I mention this as it is the same type of thing is happening back home in Montana, and Janie and I are concerned that one day there could be some similar transformations. For instance, because of some things that have recently occurred along what I like to call the “Last Country Road,” (our road in Montana), we fear someone could create a gravel pit, start a pig farm–or put in a huge marina. That what one individual tried to do. He was a new comer, bought up farmland from a nearby neighbor, has now transformed what was once a beautiful farm into what appears will soon be a mess of buildings. To add insult to injury, he has prominently posted “Keep out” signs, “Violator will be Prosecuted”. Recently he stood up at a town meeting and proclaimed himself to be a “good neighbor.”

Sprinkles, an Ameraucana chick, and Sarah

Sprinkles, an Ameraucana chick, and Sarah

Though these transitions are certainly going to create chaos for a period of time along our little farming road back in Montana, out here in New Jersey along Shades of Death, life is more settled, and we’re delighted to say that all these young people still find pleasure from their rural heritage. Right now, it’s chickens–and chickens of all sorts. The hens, such as the “Barred Rocks” provide eggs, and because of all these hens, out here, almost every day is like an Easter egg hunt.

PREVIOUS POSTS: *This post from two years ago has been one of my most popular. It’s about the nation’s oldest serving National Park Ranger, Lyle Ruterbories . He works at Kintla Lake, a remote spot in Glacier National Park.

One Response to “Chicken Lessons From Along Shade of Death Road”

  1. Kelsey Says:

    Chickens are very fun to have and if anyone would be intrested in having chickens, you have to prepare for them first!
    Then you can go on Mcmurray Hatchery .com and buy some chicks! They will come in the mail as babies (there heathly).
    Have fun!

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