The Gypsies and The Chickens

The reader should note that during this time frame, nomadic practice was still very commonplace in Eastern Europe, and for rural inhabitants, 'gypsies'  stealing livestock and produce was a very real problem for their livelihoods. This is a story from my Dedo's childhood.

I lived in a mill over a small stream in the country near the town of Bistrica. It is in the south, about 15 or 20 kilometers from the Greek border. My family grew grapes - we used to harvest them and make vats of vino, in big woodentubs - and raised chickens and we had ducks and geese in the pond around the mill. We even had a cow too, but just one, for milking.

One day a group of gypsies arrived and make camp in the fields around the village. I was coming home from school and saw some of the gypsy women in our chicken pen catching up our chickens. They had the chickens strung up through holes in the neck all on a piece of string, like popcorn. In those days, we had to wear uniforms to all the schools, and my uniform had epaulletes and brass buttons. As I came up to the farm, the women saw me and ran away carrying the chickens they caught. They were so scared;  they saw my uniform and thought I was a soldier from the village come to catch them!

Another day I was coming home again, and another group of women was in the chicken pen. They looked very big - their skirts were bulged out. As I came closer, they got scared too and ran away. When I walked up to the fence, I saw we had more chickens than the day before. The gypsies had stolen the chickens alive from other farms and hid them under their dresses, but dropped them in our coop when I scared them and they ran. We kept the new chickens.