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Finding Harmony in the Hen House

January 21, 2013

No, this is not about how women who work or live in close proximity like in a dorm often end up with their monthly cycles in sync.

It is about the worst fight I ever had with my sis, God bless her.


Sister on left, me on right. Notice who is holding the dog. Always.

We were close and great friends, being only 26 months apart. Growing up, people thought we were twins at one stage when I was growing taller than her. I ended up about four inches taller but she charged ahead on the basketball court anyway, one of the best female players (I’ll say modestly) Goshen College (Ind.) ever had (she made it into the Elkhart County sports hall of fame, so it is not just me saying that).


Bethany girl’s GAA before we even had uniforms. That’s my sister Pert on far left, second row, long hair, flipped up, bangs. Short. That’s me on far right, last row (tall row, ahem), long hair,  flipped up, bangs, Circa 1967.

But she had this infuriating way of laughing at me that pushed my buttons. She also knew that that would make me even madder, so that was even funnier, oh ha ha ha.

I have always been a kind of a middle-of-the-road-even-keel-type of person, trying to solve or stay out of conflicts rather than starting them, or at least trying to soothe them over, like my mother. Or maybe it was like my father, who often said “Kids, now you need to kiss and make up.” Overall Dad’s philosophy of life was probably the original “Why can’t everyone just get along?”

Neither one of us know what started the fight in the chicken house that day. But I do know it got me into a heap of … well, broken eggs.


We had 10,000 caged layers in those days (I know, it sounds terrible, but we didn’t know better back then, and the chickens didn’t either), and our job as kids on the farm was to gather the eggs each evening, pushing big carts down long rows and placing them on flats holding 2.5 dozen eggs each. (Mother and a hired neighbor woman gathered eggs in the morning when we were at school.)

When the chore was completed, we’d wheel the eggs into the large walk-in cooler, and place the flats into large egg cases holding 360 eggs to be shipped to our distributor. The egg cases were heavy but not unmanageable for kids raised on the farm. We were probably ages 12-15, something like that. We were not above throwing eggs into the wet soupy manure that lay stinking beneath the cages, in order to send a spray of poop onto the sibling gathering eggs in the next aisle.

Whatever my sister said that evening—in a laughing, menacing, “I know you’re mad” manner—sent me over the edge and next thing I knew, I was hefting that whole case of eggs in her direction to ram her as hard as I could just to get her to stop.


It felt so good.

Then I was shocked that I would do such a thing and wondered immediately how many eggs I’d broken.

She sobered up, I think we both apologized, and began to open up the case of eggs to survey the damage I’d done which she had provoked.

It was not pretty. But there’s no use crying over cracked eggs, right, so we immediately started cleaning up our mess.

The dog had a lot of broken eggs to eat that night. When dad found out (I have no idea who told) we of course had to pay for the eggs we’d broken. I do think we split the cost, because my sister knew that in spite of the fact that I had shoved her, she had pushed my buttons on purpose.

And that was the worst fight we ever had.

Love you, Pert. Her side of the story might be a little different.


(Notice who is still, always, holding an animal.)

Also love my big sis and little brother, with whom we all mostly got along, most of the time.


Me, big sis Nancy, Mom, little bro Terry, Dad, Linda aka Pert


P.S. I hope I don’t have to point out how this is actually a good clean way to fight:
1. State your issues
2. Try not to push buttons.
3. Apologize.
4. Clean up the mess (hurt feelings, etc.)
5. Pay for your damages.

  1. Pert Shetler permalink

    Wow Mel! I really don’t remember this egg-fight with you!! Sorry. I remember throwing eggs in the gutter and splashing siblings/friends and sometimes soft eggs at Terry directly but that’s about the extent of egg throwing memories for me. I know you and Nan hated my laugh at times, not sure how and why I did it though. Love you too sis, Pert

    • Isn’t it interesting the different things we remember, or don’t! I can almost remember where I was in the egg cooler. I hope this didn’t make you feel bad! We’ve talked about this before, I think, but I didn’t know you didn’t remember it. I’m glad you don’t hate me for it. Love love, Mel

  2. Hi there- this was a good story. We raised chickens for eggs too, but just for our family. We had the chickens crated also, I never felt sorry for them back then, and have to admit I don’t even feel too sorry for them now. Hey Pert, is that your dog? I have a pug too- her name is Binschky.

    Melodie, I am going to start blogging also, just have to figure the whole thing out. My son has a blog- it’s about heavy metal music and sports, he’s already got 1000 followers. He’s actually a good writer too!! 🙂

    • Hi, Nancy!! Yes, you should start a blog–a good way to continue what you already started.
      Yes, Pert has a Pug… or two. She also works at a veterinarian practice so this is one of the dogs there, I think.

      Thanks for commenting. Keep in touch & let me know when you start blogging.

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