Day 54 of 365
I knew I wanted chickens for a long time before we finally got them, though, for most of my life, I wouldn’t have thought I would have fallen in love with chickens. For years, I was scared of them. That pecking made me nervous.
When I was a little girl, my great grandmother had a garden and chickens. When I was in Kindergarten, she took me into the chicken coop to teach me how to collect eggs. One of the hens pecked me fairly hard–at least hard to my five-year-self. I cried. If that alone wasn’t trauma enough, some short time later, I came down with chicken pox. I was convinced those chickens gave me chicken pox.
I held a grudge, I guess, and though I loved to go to farms and fairs, the chickens always made me nervous. Then, one day, I read an article about how chickens were very smart animals and were very useful in recycling food waste into eggs, and I was sold. I loved animals in general, and chickens seems do-able to me. I loved the sustainability they could provide. Plus, we lived in rural Maine. I mean, I think it’s expected that you will keep chickens if you live in rural Maine.
It took me two years of trying to convince Ron to get chickens. He would always say we should but would hesitate. But I persisted. The day I picked up that first little batch of Rhode Island Reds at the post office, I was hooked. I had researched and studied and planned for them for so long. I was a so glad to finally meet my very own chickens.
Of course, I studied and watched and learned as much as I could from them from the first day, but there is much to learn. As goes the internet, there is so much misinformation online. You have to find good chicken educators, and even then, I have found they are sometimes wrong.
I have enjoyed the learning, and our chickens bring me great joy. I have been a chicken lady since I first met them. I have found that they also serve as a kind of therapy for me in a mad world. They keep me grounded and give me a sense of security, I think. They are very helpful to me, and baby season in the summer is an especially wonderful time to me. I love seeing the littles.
This afternoon, I had a tough time at work. One of my students, who didn’t complete an assignment and earned a low grade, sent an email to me that read “I hate you.” I teach adult students. It’s not the worst I’ve read, but it was definitely disheartening. Of course, I wrote back and kindly reminded the student they could revise and complete the assignment, but my heart was sad. I know that email wasn’t about me, but it still sucks to be on the receiving end of such a declaration.
I took my laptop outside to the garage where my little baby chick crew of five live right now, and I sat with them while I finished my work. I felt better within minutes. I think, out of the five baby chicks I adopted when Kate wouldn’t, four of them might be girls. The Black Copper Maran I really wanted for the chocolate-colored eggs is a girl! But the one little rooster is so sweet. We’ll see if he stays so sweet, but right now, I really like him. I kind of want to keep him. He’s the most interested in me, he’s very curious, and he sings–a lot. He just chirps and chirps, and he will warm your heart.
And, while I sat there grading papers with tiny chickens perched on me, from Juliet’s dog crate in the middle of the garage, I thought I heard purring. I had candled the eggs under Juliet yesterday because I completely lost track of how long she had been sitting. And I thought maybe two were going well, but the egg shells were very dark and hard to see through, I wasn’t sure. But I thought I maybe heard at least one of the eggs cheeping. I should not have been candling so late. I hoped I hadn’t disturbed anyone too much, but I also wasn’t 100 percent sure I had heard chirping. The trees around our house are FULL of baby birds right now. There is a constant “cheep” in our house because we keep the windows open.
But, as I sat there grading papers with baby chicks perched on me, I heard Juliet purring, and I knew she had done it. I knew she had at least one baby hatching. And my stress and the sad email and the decline of civility were miles from my mind.
I haven’t seen the baby. If it was still hatching, I didn’t want to disturb, but the purring is a giveaway. A baby has come, and there was a happy mama next to me.
When I got up to take my work back into the house, I stopped at Juliet’s crate. “You did it, mama,” I said. I was happy for her.