The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Berry Swap

By Deidre M. Thigpen © 1989

Issue: January, 1989

When I was about seven or eight years old we were living in Meadows of Dan, Virginia in a section known as Belcher Mountain. We had the usual farm with horses, a cow, a dog, cats, pigs and chickens. But out of all of our chickens we didn't have a rooster.

So one day I struck up a deal with a neighbor, Mr. Euell Handy. If I would pick him a bucket of blackberries he would trade me a young rooster for them.

I thought it was a pretty easy deal, but picking all of those blackberries down by the pond wasn't as easy as I thought. It took me the better part of the day and a hot day at that.

After I had all of the blackberries picked I took them back to the house and rinsed them off before heading to the Handy's house with them in my wagon. Walking almost a mile to get there was harder than picking the berries; I was beginning to figure that Mr. Handy had the better end of the deal.

Mr. Handy stayed true to his word and let me pick out a handsome speckled rooster. I hugged it up close and headed on back for home. It was hard pulling that wagon and trying to hang on to the rooster.

Speckles, the rooster, was a feisty thing. He did give a good litter of chicks, I got another rooster out of the deal that way, but he was mean and would peck anyone who got near him. After Speckles' son got old enough to be the head rooster Daddy decided it was frying time for Speckles, that bird was so tough that you couldn't get the feathers off of him.

Yes, Mr. Handy did get the better end of the deal.