The strange and romantic tale of the Chicken Farmer Rock


A tale of love, farming and chickens. Only in New Hampshire.

There are no doubts that New Hampshire is romantic.  It is, after all, a land of mountains, forests, lakes and streams.   Quiet cabins, isolated walks in the woods, a canoe for two over deep, still water. . . It's hard not to fall in love in New Hampshire.  But one of the most romantic spots in the state is actually a just a bit of graffiti on a rock next to a one-lane highway.  This is the story of Chicken Farmer Rock.

Once upon a time in New Hampshire, there was a farm.  There are many farms in NH, but this particular farm could be found in the tiny town of Newbury, off State Road 103.  And on this farm lived a girl of sixteen, Gretchen Rule, who helped her family raise chickens.  One day, a message appeared for  Gretchen, spray-painted in bold bright letters over a large flat rock on the other side of the road. 

Chicken Farmer, I love you.

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There the message was, for everyone to see.  But who was the author?  Sadly, his name is not part of the legend.  Whether Gretchen knew who he was, or guessed, or ever connected with him at all, is a mystery.  But the message remained as she grew up, went to college, and moved on.  The paint faded and the local wildlife began to overtake it.  And the story could have ended there.  But it didn't.

One day, years later, Newbury locals were surprised to see, as they were driving past, that the brambles had been cut back and the message renewed. 

Chicken Farmer, I still love you.

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Who had done it?  Has someone been quietly pining for Gretchen Rule all this time?  Once again, the mystery author did not reveal himself.  But every few years, the brush would be cut back and the message repainted.  It became something of a landmark, a part of the town's history.  It inspired poetry and plays and was an important part of the local lore.

Then the NH Department of Transportation intervened.  In 1997, they sent someone out to paint over the Chicken Rock, as it was known by then.   The local paper ran an article about it.  It seemed to be the end of the love story.

But a week later, the message reappeared, as big and bold as before.

Chicken Farmer, I still love you.

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This time, before the DoT could intervene again, the townspeople took it into their own hands.  They sent around "A Petition for the Status Quo" to ensure that the this enduring love letter would be left alone.  The DoT acquiesced.   The message is still there today, a simple and unchanging declaration of love.

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This was originally written for Roadtrippers, a great resource for anyone interested in travel.
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