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I heard my old friend William Barrick had returned to live on his family’s farm near Red Cross. I heard he was training chickens to do amazing tricks there.

So I’m driving out that way to check on William and the chickens.

As I get out of my car, I hear a donkey braying in a nearby field. William walks through the yard to greet me. “That’s Joe,” he explains, “he’s a new father. Pumpkin was born a couple of months ago.” We talk for a while about donkeys and about old times. No mention is yet made about chickens.

“This is the farm I grew up on—it’s been in the family over 150 years. My father was born on this farm and he died on this farm.”

I’d known his parents, Marvis and Jane Barrick, even before I got to know William. “As you get older, you’re looking just like I remember your dad,” I comment.

“I get told that a lot,” he responds. “I can’t deny that, nor would I want to.”

William moved to Florida in 1980, and had been living there until just a few weeks ago. After a short while in Orlando, he lived in Fort Myers. He worked in the medical field there for the past couple of decades. “Fort Myers used to be a sleepy, little retirement town, but it got to be a major center of activity for Florida,” he remarks.

Just before his 61st birthday, William left Florida and returned to Barren County. “The main reason I came back is to care for Mom.”

Jane Barrick is 92 now and she says, “It’s wonderful,” and “I’m thrilled” to have William living on the farm.

The farm is over 200 acres and features cattle and crops. William’s brother Mark, who also lives here, is mainly responsible for managing the farm. William said he might “assist” his brother some, and may also resume his career in a facility in South Central Kentucky. His top priority, though, is to care for their mother.

He makes it clear, “I’m definitely back. I’ve moved back to the farm. Now they’ll have to drag me off.”

I wonder if he will miss the land of sand. “What’re you looking forward to about living out in the country?”

“Spending more time with my family,” he says. “And I’m enjoying fellowshipping at the Merry Oakes Methodist Church where I used to attend. Some have passed away. Others I grew up with are still there. I’m enjoying re-connecting.”

Joe makes some kind of braying announcement again. William says the donkeys are “fun to have.” We walk over to the fence and get a closer look at Joe.

Finally, William says, “It feels good to be home. This is a different place from Florida. It’s much friendlier. People stop and talk before rushing off here.”

Before I rush off, I ask about his post on his Facebook page. “What’s this about the chickens? What amazing tricks have you trained them to perform?”

“Well, I feed them and they give me eggs.” He chuckles. “We do raise chickens, but that was just my attempt at humor.”

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