Jack Remembers: ‘Shorty,’ my dad, flushed out that four-legged ‘chicken thief’

By Jack Hackley

My father, Walter “Shorty” Hackley, was the hardest working man I ever knew.  He got up at 4 a.m., milked cows, then went to the field, came back home, and milked cows again, seven days a week.  He sold Grade A milk for 47 years.
My dad was honest to a fault and hated anyone who was dishonest.  When he combined lespedeza or clover seed on rented land, he always gave the owner an extra portion.  He hired a lot of farm workers and if one of them would steal from him, he would never say anything, he just wouldn’t ever hire that person again.
Back when I was in grade school, in every little town there was always a couple of chicken thieves.  They would take a gunnysack and in the middle of the night, find some farmer’s chicken house and fill up the sacks when the chickens were on the roost.  There was a ready market for them to sell these chickens.
Late one night I heard my mother say, “Wake up, Shorty.  There is someone in the chicken house.”  My dad and I put on our clothes and headed a couple of hundred feet from the house to find out what was causing the chickens to make so much noise.
It was a dark night, with no moon or stars shining.   Dad had a single-shot 410 shotgun and I had the flashlight.  When we got to the chicken house, we could hear some footsteps inside, so it definitely was not a raccoon or an opossum.
My dad hollered, “Come out you son-of-a-so-and-so, with your hands up.”  The chickens were squalking and flying around.  Inside, there was a thunderous noise.  I turned on the flashlight and there were two eyes coming right at me.  I was never so scared in my life.  I let out a scream, with the shotgun pointed up in the air, my dad accidentally hit the trigger, and out of that chicken house came the thief, our old riding mare, who was in there eating chicken feed.
Father’s Day is Sunday, but I believe we should remember our fathers more than just one day a year.

Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075 or  Visit

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