MySecretGarden

U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chicken Secrets


Alexey Savrasov. Summer day. Chickens in the backyard, 1874
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Have you ever met a person much older than you and felt that he/she could be your very best friend?
Have you ever listened to someone and realized that a book could be written based on the stories that were told to you?
Have you ever felt yourself absolutely helpless and shocked after learning that such a person left and took the whole world with herself and nobody ever will learn hundreds or thousands of stories that make a history of mankind on its normal, human level?
I met her in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1992 or 1993.
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We spent just several hours together, and then there were several letters. She was Russian, in her 80's and her name was Tamara. As a girl, she lived in Manchuria, China, where her parents worked on the Chinese Eastern Railway built (1897-1903) on the border between Russia and China.
(The Chinese Eastern Railway was a single tracked line providing a shortcut for the famous world's longest railroad, the Trans-Siberian Railway from near the Siberian city of Chita via Harbin across northern inner Manchuria to the Russian port of Vladivostok).
When the civil war (1918-1922) started in Russia, her family fled to Malaysia, then somewhere else and finally came to Alaska. In Anchorage, she lived for the rest of her life, never changing her citizenship and speaking good Russian. All the Russian old-believers from the area, many of them fishermen, knew her and used to bring her salmon, and respected her highly. She told me a bit about her life, I didn't write it down and only several things are still in my memory. One of those things was about how her mother raised chickens while they lived in China.
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There were two tricks she used which helped her to keep them healthy through the severely cold Nothern China winters.
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Alexey Savrasov. Yard. Winter. 1870s.
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Locals couldn't understand how she managed not to lose any of her birds when everyone else did.
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She shared her secrets with them. Now, I am sharing them with you. These are her secrets. First: when the cold season would come, she took her chickens one by one and dipped their feet in vodka. Second: From time to time, she used to give them finely chopped raw meat. Don't ask me how these two things made chickens stronger, more cold resistent and healthier. I don't know more than you, but this is what Tamara's mother did.
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I doubt that the 21st century chicken growers need to use these tricks with their own birds. I just wanted to tell you something that is more than a hundred years old and that is like a grain of sand in the world's history. For some reason, I didn't want this tiny grain of sand to get lost forever like so often happens with billions and zillions of other grains which disappear every day without a trace after their carriers leave us.

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The chicken pictures in this post were taken in the Russian countryside, very close to Manchuria, where I was born.

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Copyright2009 TatyanaS

26 comments:

  1. Tatyana~~ VERY well written! What a mutual pleasure it must have been for you and Tamara, kindred spirits so far from your roots. I know what you mean about rich experiences being lost forever. Her memoir would be a best seller. Vodka and meat? Hmm...

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  2. Thanks Tatyana for such a lovely write-up about Tamara. We are in fact doing gardening with tips and tricks. Some are handed down and some are things we thought we discovered. We surely will learn along the way with more of Tamara's and others tips..... Lovely pictures on chickens! Cheers.., ~bangchik

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  3. I am intrigued by all the details in the paintings.

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  4. Lovely post. And beautiful paintings too.

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  5. What an interesting story, thanks for sharing. What a great person to share time with.

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  6. Lovely story Tatyana

    Great chickens as well.

    You are so clever putting together a well written post like this when English isn't your first language.

    Chickens feet in vodka eh!!!!

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  7. What a delightful post story and photographs.

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  8. I love these photos! Superb! And chickens just win me over. Always have. They're beautiful creatures and their feathers so shiny and iridescent. The story was fantastic.
    Brenda

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  9. You wouldn't want to get this technique wrong. I don't think that feeding chickens vodka and dipping their feet in raw meat would work! Thanks so much for keeping this story alive.

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  10. Oh what a wonderful post...I am so glad that you didn't let that grain of sand get lost. What amazing pictures to go along with, thanks so much for sharing that, Kim

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  11. Tatyana,
    I think you paid a lovely tribute to this lovely lady.
    I have never heard about the vodka or feeding ground meat to chickens, but it sounds like a pretty interesting method.
    Rosey

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  12. What a lovely story. It sounds like she really impressed you. Sometimes older people just have a way of seeming so wise and worldly. It makes me miss my grandmother who actually would have been 103 today if she was still alive. She lived to be 97 and was quite a character. Her stories still linger with us. What an incredible life they have led with so many changes, cars, lights, medicine, planes, etc... It's too bad more people don't stop and listen to them, we could all learn so much.

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  13. That is a great story and I love the illustrations. What does vodka on the feet do?? LOL

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  14. Beautiful photos and very very touching story ... all the grains of sand you mention could be bottled into a large hour glass that could be turned over and over for the stories to be retold... you have told one... Lovely! Love the vodka dipped feet!

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  15. Thank you for sharing some wonderful memories of a special person from your past.
    To answer your question about the Fuchsia, yes I think I should over winter this pretty one.

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  16. Thank you for sharing this story and her memory. Honoring those that came before us is sharing their gift.
    Lovely photographs. I think it would be grand to have a few chickens in the backyard....
    Sherry

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  17. I know what you mean about meeting someone like this. I had that experience with a second cousin once removed and the memory of the two summers I spent with her in California when I was a student is very precious to me.

    These hens are absolutely beautiful! I don't think I've ever considered hens beautiful before!

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  18. I love your story! You are so right with the lost stories and experiences -- I think of this often and I know Tamara would have been so happy to know you shared a few bits of her life with the world. Thank you, Tatyana.

    Your chicken photographs are wonderful. I sure wish the rooster was my own -- his feathering is fantastic!

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  19. What a beautiful post! Indeed such folk wisdom, whether necessary or not deserves to be preserved before it's lost forever to time. Now, thanks to your capture, it will live on.

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  20. Awesome! I've never heard of those tips before ... Have you tried them yourself? Interesting indeed!

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  21. Tatyana, this is a beautiful story well told. It is always good to remember our roots. I am proud of you. I think I'd like to meet Tamara too.

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  22. Well if it works on chickens then I'm going to dip my wife's feet in Vodka. I survive the winters here but I don't get much sleep with her sticking those things on me trying to warm them up.

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  23. Those are some gorgeous chickens!

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  24. You have the best stories, Tatyana. I have no idea about vodka and raw meat, but I wonder if it was more her loving attention to her chickens that made the difference? The raw meat makes sense, too (not that I know anything about chicken-raising) -- fatten them up, give them muscle-building protein and insulation. The vodka, who knows?

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  25. I loved this post! I will definitely buy a bottle of vodka and feed a little raw meat this winter! I am always game for a good old fashioned trick or two! The chicken pictures are beautiful, I know most people don't think chicks are pretty but I can't seem to get enough of them! Thank you for sharing, I don't know how I missed this to begin with~

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Thank you for stopping by and for your comment! I appreciate your time! See you soon on your blog!

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