Prairie Oysters are chickens

Living far from the rollicking coast line you might think we poor prairie folk have never experienced the thrill you get when you crack open an oyster to reveal a pearl inside. Excuse me while I attempt to stifle a bored yawn.

Now pack up your misplaced sympathy and toss it on a fast bus heading south, because here in the prairies, our version of oysters make one small pearl seem about as consequential as rabbit poop. Up here we don?t just get pearl after predictable pearl. Our prairie oysters yield fully formed jewelry; necklaces, bracelets, watches and rings. Try finding that in a regular oyster!

And for those of you trying to wrap your mind around finding a gold watch inside a bull?s testicle, let me assure you that those are not the only prairie oysters in these here pastures. No siree ma?am. Okay, that last sentence made absolutely no sense. Anyway, the prairie oysters I?m referring to are chickens. I don?t mean scaredy cats neither – which is kind of a weird expression when you think about it. I mean how scared are cats, really? Especially the big ones. I am far more scared of a lion or a cougar than those cats would ever be of me. It would be far more appropriate to say scaredy humans. But I digress. The prairie oysters I am referring to are of the poultry kind. Bona fide chickens with treasures inside.

A case in point is the story of Aaron Giles who lost his ID bracelet, only to have it show up inside a chicken gizzard 20 years later. A meat cutter found the bracelet complete with name, address and phone number engraved on it and with this dated information was still able to track Giles down.

I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical when I first heard the story. I mean, how many chickens do you know that live to be 20 years old? But that was not the case. Apparently Giles had spent a lot of time as a child playing in his grandfather?s barn. ?I would spend most of my time out at his farm and that?s the only place I can think of that I would have lost it,? Giles said. The 31-year-old also added that he would have been around four or five when the bracelet went missing. A few years ago the barn was dismantled and Giles believes the bracelet must have been lodged in the floor boards all that time and shook loose when the barn was being taken down. It was then gobbled up by a passing chicken that in turn ended up at the Olson Locker.

There are lots of stories like that one. In fact, when I was growing up in the rolling hills of Bessborough, rumours ran amok of a gentleman back in the thirties who had once found a gold nugget in his chicken?s gizzard. Since his flock often scratched out a living down by Willowbrook Creek the news created a small gold rush. For a space of time everyone found an excuse to take a wash pan down to the creek under the guise of excellent personal hygiene, when in reality they were hoping to pan out a nugget or two to get them through the depression.

The skeptics in the community suspected the chicken had actually gobbled up a pendant from a necklace or some such thing, which was probably the case since to the best of my knowledge not so much as a speck of gold has never been found in Willowbrook Creek.

So there you have it. Checking a chicken?s gizzards is just like checking an oyster for pearls. Chickens are the prairie people?s answer to oysters. It gives the term ?prairie oysters? a whole new meaning. And a far more pleasant one, I might add. But I guess not for the chicken.

Shannon McKinnon is a syndicated humour columnist from the Peace River country. You can visit her online at