My father grew up in Mobile, Alabama. My grandfather, who was a a successful children's book salesman owned the farm they lived on, and occasionally farmed it. To further my father's education in the rural arts, he gave him a chicken.

Now, chickens are not the brightest of animals. In fact, they are really nothing more than a mobile vegetable. My father discovered this while defending his chicken. There are lots of chicken hawks in Alabama. The circled like vultures above my father's bird. Sometimes they would dive.

But Dad had a BB gun and he soldiered on, laying down a withering hail of BBs until the feathered predators sheered off. For weeks he remained on guard around his chicken, fighting off fowl.

Eventually the chicken got sick and died. Dad was not displeased. It had clucked on, completely oblivous to the battle raging over its head. Not once did the bird look up to check for chicken-hawks.

To this day my father eats chicken with particular satisfaction. "This bird was meant to be fried" he said, and I agree. If I ever become a vegetarian, at least I'll still be able to enjoy chicken.