Chickens Don’t Sweat

Chickens don’t sweat.  Really, this is absolutely true.  I was behind a chicken truck driving along the Eastern Shore yesterday.

The moment I saw this truck (I was driving) I yelled at my husband, “It’s a chicken truck!  Get the phone.  Please get a picture!”  I had to capture that memory of forty years ago.

We lived in Virginia back then, and it was the hottest summer on record.  So hot that animals were dying in huge numbers, specifically the chickens destined for the big processing plants along the Eastern Shore, like Perdue and Tyson.

In the height of this chicken tragedy, farmers with small chicken farms, and farmers who simply raised chickens, were the heroes.  They put their chickens in trucks and drove them around, just to cool them off.  Chicken trucks were running day and night to keep the animals cool and alive, basically saving the farm. It worked!

That summer was a scorcher.  My childhood in the south had many such summers.  And my memories are much like the chicken truck, piling into the back of a pick-up truck with my sisters and friends and driving around. I remember the breeze.  There was nothing better than an evening breeze and an ice cream cone after dinner.  We had no air conditioning.  Our big old house had a whole house fan.  My Dad knew just what windows to open and close to pull in the cool night air.  And, it was lovely.

A summer breeze does wonders for the soul and mind.  It brings us familiar smells ands sounds.  It can evoke memories, even forty-year-old ones, of chickens, summers, and childhood.  I still have no air conditioning today.  Some things are too good to let go.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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44 Responses to Chickens Don’t Sweat

  1. Darlene says:

    We had hot summers like that in southern Alberta, Canada as well. What memories you have evoked.I remember sitting on the back of dad’s pickup eating popsicles that would melt before we had a chance to finish them. Dad never did drive his chickens around!

  2. Although I don’t have memories of chicken trucks, I certainly do have many about whole house fans, trips to the root beer stand with mugs of icy cold root beer and orange pineapple ice cream cones! We did it all on those blistering hot evenings in Indiana to keep cool. Thank you for bringing back those wonderful memories on this rainy morning, Jennie! – Susan

  3. Dan Antion says:

    Memories of riding around in the back of a truck are some of the best memories I have from my childhood.

  4. Meg says:

    Really liked your childhood story, Jenni.
    … All encapsulated in a passing truck.

  5. MC Clark says:

    I grew up on a farm/ranch in the South, no air conditioning, wood for heat, and no indoor plumbing. I would love to go back and relive those days. They were the best days of my life.

  6. beetleypete says:

    It is rarely hot enough here for air conditioning, so I have never had it. I don’t even use the system supplied in my car, preferring to open all the windows instead. During the record-breaking hot summer of 1976, it was so hot in London, that we drove to Gatwick Airport, in Surrey. We just sat in the arrivals lounge all night, as the whole building was air-conditioned. Trouble was, we had to come out to go back to work the next morning, so we were still sweltering by the time we got home. But at least we had one peaceful cool night.
    I have never heard of farmers driving chickens around in trucks to keep them cool. Still learning something new every day! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      I can completely relate to your story, even driving around with the car windows down instead of using the AC. I had never heard of chicken trucks until that sweltering summer. Learning new things is always a fun adventure! Best to you.

  7. Norah says:

    I’ve seen truckloads of chickens, but hadn’t realised the farmers were keeping them cool. Interesting post.

  8. mitchteemley says:

    Did think your post could live up to the title. I did!

  9. M. Miles says:

    I love the idea of farmers driving their chickens around in trucks to cool them off! Except the chickens probably still got slaughtered later….

    Thanks for bringing one of history’s lost quirks to light!

  10. I did not know this! Thank you for the education. I don’t sweat either so summers are miserable for me. When we left Germany and moved to Georgia, I couldn’t understand why my dad insisted on those salt tablets but soon found they were no match for that intense humid heat. Pushing my bicycle home from the grocery store, I passed out in the road and lay there for a great deal of time. It was more than a week to recover but have not sweat since. Heat makes me very ill. My house is colder than anyone else has theirs in winter too. Maybe I’m a chicken too. 🙂

    • Jennie says:

      What an interesting story, Marlene. Wow! I never took salt tablets, but my husband did training in the military. He tells me that passing out was not uncommon. Funny how heat or chickens can bring back childhood memories and stories. Maybe you have chicken in your blood…🙂

  11. reocochran says:

    My goodness, this was such a sweet and nostalgic post, Jennie! Even when my grown children were in their teens, we only had one television, one telephone and we woke up in the summer at 5 am to lower the windows and “seal in the night coolness” and raised them after ten pm each night. We slept on the floor in the living room to stay cool. 🙂
    We were thrilled as kids in the sixties to go to air-conditioning restaurants or movies. 🙂
    My grown kids liked car trips in the 90’s since we had air-conditioning!! Thanks for the memories, Jennie! ❤
    I didn't know chickens "don't sweat!" 😉 This is sad they cannot cool themselves off! Poor creatures.

    • Jennie says:

      Isn’t it interesting how one thing can trigger childhood memories? Thank you for sharing yours! I S till like putting the windows down in the car vs AC. I never knew about chickens not sweating until that summer!

  12. Aww Jennie! What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. Many blessings to you. You’re a wonderful story teller. 💜 Love Debbie

  13. Interesting! I can’t remember ever seeing a chicken truck, but if I do, I’ll think of this post. We never had AC growing up either, but for the last few years I’ve been grateful for it. Despite how drying and irritating it can be, it beats humidity and hay fever, for me anyway. 🙂

    • Jennie says:

      I did not know about chickens until that hot summer. It really is interesting. AC is a wonder for sure. It’s the summer evenings that I love a breeze.

  14. ren says:

    Your husband rocks! Bless his heart for getting the pic.
    I also do not use a/c, growing up in MI.
    Now living in southern California, it may be needed once in a while.
    And when I first got here, I heard many owls at night
    because my windows were open.
    Thanx for the memories…

  15. danupondrake says:

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahah! Great post.

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