Beth Jacks Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Jacks: Chickens and fried folks in Snippets

This August heat is getting pretty ridiculous. It’s hot every summer in the South, but this is the first year I’ve lost a dozen azaleas in one fell swoop from Mother Nature’s bad breath. I’m not liking it one bit.

A day or two ago I heard a radio guy say the weather is so scorching in his little town that birds were having to use potholders to pull worms out of the ground. I thought that was sort of amusing, chuckling as I searched for a shady spot to park at the church. I didn’t care if I had to walk 100 yards farther if I could find a bit of shade so I wouldn’t step into an oven when I returned.

Honestly, this heat is so relentless I get chills if the temperature falls below 95 degrees. Yesterday I actually put on a sweater in the house because the air conditioning, set at 75, was about to turn me into an ice cube.

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It’s bad. Real bad. And yet there are folks who either have to or choose to work and exercise outside in this heat. That includes tennis and golf, you addicts.

The fact is, heat stroke can kill you, and I mean kill you fast. What are the signs of heat stroke? According to, we should watch for the following:

• Body temperature over 105 degrees

• Not much perspiration

• Skin red and hot to the touch

• Nausea and dizziness

•Rapid pulse

And how do we treat heat stroke? Again, thanks to for this information.

• Immediately call a doctor.

• Get the person to a cooler, shadier spot.

• Take off their outer clothing.

• Apply cold packs or cool water.

• If person is conscious, give him small sips of salt water.

• Don’t give drugs, alcohol or caffeine to heat stroke victim.

To prevent heat stroke, heed this advice, also from

• Wear light, loose fitting clothes and a hat when outside.

• Drink lots of water.

• Salt food more than usual to help retain water.

Just in case readers don’t take the aforementioned advice seriously, I offer this story as (semi) proof that it’s better to stay under the AC or fan during these long hot days.

My granddaddy always had a big garden. He grew it all – tomatoes, squash, peas, beans, melons, cucumbers, berries, onions and probably more veggies and fruit I can’t remember. To get to the garden we had to go through the chicken yard and hen house, where my gentle Granny would grab chickens by the neck, give ‘em a twist, and have them plucked and fried up in an hour’s time.

I never liked going through the chicken yard. I was scared to death of chickens, but I did like picking berries. So one hot summer day I took my little basket and cautiously entered the gate to the chicken yard, dodging the cluckers, hoping against hope they wouldn’t attack me but knowing they probably would since my big brother had told me chickens can sense fear.

Granddaddy was behind me with a big bucket of crushed ice. I asked him what he was doing with the ice, and he said the heat had the hens so discombobulated and in such a stew that he had to give them crushed ice to keep their egg yolks from getting scrambled.

He was kidding, of course. I’ve since learned that grandparents will do almost anything to entertain their little ones; however, Granddaddy was a preacher so I believed him at the time. I was convinced if the heat could cook an egg inside a chicken, I needed to stay in the house under the attic fan, preferably with a good book.

That, friends, has been my philosophy ever since, chickens or no chickens.