In retrospect, the chickens probably were a bad idea.
It was somewhere around my eighth year of surviving in a world before seat belts, and I was visiting Ollie, a third cousin twice removed.
In retrospect, life would have been less risky had cousin Ollie been further removed.
Anyway, Ollie and I had commandeered the chicken coop, pretending it was a rocket ship and that the chickens were survivors we rescued from the planet Cluckoria, which cracked like an egg when evil cows tripped while jumping over the moon.
The coop abutted the pasture, and we found that we could lure the Holsteins to the windows by waving fistfuls of chicken feed. Once they poked their muzzles inside, we set about protecting Cluckorians by cracking stray eggs over the Moovarians' noses.
It was about the time that Ollie figured it would be more exciting if we shoved several of the cows into the chicken coop that Aunt Tillie stepped out the back door.
''Boys, we're going on a ... EEEK! Where are you going with those cows?''
We did our best to conceal them behind us, but black and white are not the best colors for camouflage.
Aunt Tillie began spluttering, which she did a lot when I visited.
Figuring that the old chicken coop probably couldn't hold the weight of a half dozen, 1,500-pound cows anyway, we hustled them back to the pasture.
Aunt Tillie's nervous tic was giving her eye fits when we rounded the barn again.
''Look, you hooligans, we're going up to the lake for a picnic. Load the baskets, chairs and blankets into the trunk while I finish getting your sister dressed.''
She staggered back inside the house and we started lugging the picnic fixings to the car.
Then Ollie hit on The Big Idea: ''I know how we can sneak all the Cluckorians right past the Moovarians!''
It took some doing to squeeze all 32 chickens into the truck without any of them leaking out.
Between the car radio, which we insisted on, the noisy muffler and us practicing animal imitations in the back seat, we hid the clucking from Aunt Tillie, who was too busy yelling over her shoulder for us to stop bouncing around.
Finally, we pulled into the parking lot. It was a beautiful day, and the beach was crowded with people eating sandwiches, playing catch, swimming and building sand castles.
Until Aunt Tillie popped the trunk.
Afterward ... well, my memory's still a little jumbled from the flurry and feathers of all the sudden excitement. I knew city folk were kinda skittish, but Aunt Tillie's screeching embarrassed me.
Three hours later, we returned with 27 chickens. The rest - well, let's just say those stories about bands of feral chickens roosting in city alleys isn't just an urban myth.
As for us, we shot out of the doors as soon as the car almost stopped after pulling back into Ollie's driveway and hid in the barn. We figured it best to take our chances with the evil Moovarians rather than hanging around to see what else Aunt Tillie had to say.
In retrospect, I think we were right.
---- We think Cole dipped into one too many warm bologna picnic sandwiches before telling this tale. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org