Sometimes my computer sounds like a chicken. You know that cluckety, gurgly sound a Rhode Island Red might make scratching around the barnyard looking for a kernel of corn or ill-fated June bug.

It could be my computer preparing to crash again, but don’t get me started on that. Electronic malfunctions seem to be my lot in life. But this chicken thing, assuming the computer doesn’t implode and forget the sounds that issue from its inner workings, will be a most enjoyable substitute to the nerdy sounds it used to make.

I grew up with chickens, you see. And that computer-generated chicken sound reminded me of a simpler time when most everyone who lived in the country had a bit of livestock on their places. We most always had a flock of chickens, bantams (banties, we called them), some game hens and roosters (but not for fighting. We deplored violence if we weren’t directly involved.) and a few white chickens of questionable ancestry we got from the local feed store to grow out to fryer size, decapitate and put in the freezer.

A nearby neighbor owned peafowl and I’d just as soon my computer not learn that language. The first time I heard one of them squawk I thought a human being was in mortal anguish. I can do without that while trying to compose intelligent communications.

I fondly remember chicken sounds, though. The arrogant self-aggrandizing crow of a rooster in the morning can’t help but catch your attention. I also enjoyed the self-congratulatory cackles of successful hens announcing completion of their day’s work.

And those cluckety, gurgly sounds hens make while scratching around for food was therapeutic. A dozen or so sounded like an off-melody church choir accompanied by a tinny piano.

My grandfather gave me a banty hen when I was just a boy. I think I named her HENrietta. (I was a bit full of myself even that far back.) She hatched out quite a few broods of bitties and provided quite a few scrambled egg breakfasts before she passed on.

I remember gathering eggs, especially at my grandparents’ farm. They had lots of chickens and nests you had to find and then steal from when the hen was done. Grandmother would put a white, ceramic doorknob in the nest so the hen would think she still had an egg (the nest egg, you see) and wouldn’t move her nest. I never said chickens were smart. They were just fun to observe and listen to.

I hadn’t even thought much about chickens until my computer started this new farm animal impersonation thing. I had just gotten it back from the repair place and I wonder what they left inside. I probably don’t want to know.

But I hope the chicken stays. I kinda miss hearing chickens clucking, crowing and cackling. I don’t know that I’ve had eggs as good as the ones that came fresh from the nest. And I know a chicken that was running around the barnyard in the morning tastes better than any that come pre-packaged and already cut up from the local grocery.

I dispatched more than a few with a hatchet and a chopping block. After the headless chicken quit flopping around (like a chicken with its head cut off, come to think of it) mom would pour boiling water over it and we’d pluck off the feathers, then singe the pinfeathers with some flaming newspaper. The stink was awful. Mom would cut it up and fry it in a cast iron skillet coated with lard. Fried chicken, fresh beans from the garden and my mother’s biscuits came as near to heavenly food as I’m likely to get.

It’s amazing the things I remember waiting for a computer to boot up.

e-mail: rsmith@farmpress.com