When Ray and I decided to get chicks again, we agreed that we only wanted layers for eggs. We went with the bigger layers so that when they were ready for retirement, we’d have some nice meat for the freezer.
“Chicks,” I said. “Let’s get ’em.” “We’ll be home for awhile.” “Why not?” he said. “Let’s do it.” We both shrugged with a smile.
We brought our new flock of 8 home and the boys immediately fell in love with them. We handled them daily and played with them as much as we possibly could. Joe named one Crystal and a few others Cheep and Peep. Jake called one Pupil and the rest were The Sunny Sisters.
At first, they’re cute and fuzzy, with the sweetest little cheeps. Then they grow real feathers, and sharp claws and razor beaks.
One of the Buff Orpintons was quite a bit bigger than the rest. We thought that maybe it was just older or maybe just grew at a faster rate than the Red Comets. She quickly claimed the alpha position in the flock.
One buff was big and fluffy, her feathers had a shine. She nipped at all the others, keeping them in line.
And then, one morning when we were moving them outside for some fresh air…we heard it. Not yet a full-throated crow, but the early attempts of one. Ray, deep in denial, said that hens sometimes crow too.
“I’m sure it’s not a rooster,” my husband shook his head. But I knew we had one, so I just smiled and said…
“I know you’d like to think that, but you should hear this crow.” He hung his head, defeated, “I just don’t want to know.”
He is right. There are times when a hen will take the alpha position in a rooster-less flock, but it is rare for a young hen, only 10 weeks old, to suddenly start crowing.
I was not sure I wanted to get a new flock of birds this year. I wasn’t ready to go through the chick stage. But…two pair of pleading eyes and a pandemic convinced me otherwise. We wouldn’t be going anywhere for awhile, so why not?
We knew we wanted Buff Orpingtons. The two we already have are friendly and docile and good layers.
As it turned out, we were not the only ones in search of Buffs. Every time we called the store they had just sold the last one.
We called a farm supply store a few towns over and they assured us they had 8 Buffs in stock. Ray and the boys hopped in the truck and went to get them while I got their first home ready.
They came home with 2 Buffs and 6 Golden Comets. As chicks, they have a similar appearance, and Ray was just ready to end the search and get the chicks.
Golden Comets are sweet and docile, excellent egg layers and kid-friendly.
Buff Orpingtons are calm and stately, good egg layers and love to be cuddled.
We are very happy with our purchase. The chicks are all about a month or so old now and quickly outgrowing each new “house” we put them in.
The boys are ecstatic and cuddle them all the time. They have even started construction on a small coop for them.
We had planned to move the new birds into the coop and retire the older birds, but the Old Guard must have taken our threats seriously. Since we brought the chicks home, the flock of five has started laying eggs daily again. We may have to try introducing new hens into an old flock and hope it goes better than the last time.
Overwhelmed doesn’t seem to be a big enough word to apply to our world today. It doesn’t really touch the full scope of events ping-ponging around the globe. It’s easy to get caught-up, wrapped-up, stressed-out and over anxious. We can spin each other up like angry, fearful tops if we let ourselves.
So let’s not.
Instead, let’s look at all the good shooting like a geyser through the world.
Let’s be amazed with all the creativity restaurants, flower shops, and other small businesses are coming up with to adapt to this new time of social distancing.
Curbside pick-up at fancy steak restaurants. Art shops offering “To Go Kits” with a fun art project for pick-up or delivery. Major entertainment chains like Chuck-E-Cheese offering “Family Fun Night” packages with pizza delivery and a goody bag.
Businesses are adapting with lightning speed to this new world.
Let’s be awed by the ability to reach out to each other virtually so we don’t feel alone.
Museums, zoos, aquariums and art galleries around the globe offer virtual tours. The technology has been there, but now we are forced to take advantage of it even more than before.
And let’s be excited that we are coming up on gardening season. If we have seen a boom in gardening over the last 5 years, we are about to see an explosion. Grocery shortages have people ready to plant.
The weather will turn and once it does, many people, who have never gardened, never wanted to grow their own food, will be plunging their hands into the soil and planting their first seeds.
I watch my boys trek outside every morning to “check the ice” in our fake pond–a big hole we dug out years ago to mark the spot for our eventual pond.
It is a ritual that they have had since the first snowfall. Of course, now, it’s mud with chunks of ice. But still, each morning one of them asks the other: “Want to check the ice?”
Today, I watched them walk slowly out to the pasture. I wondered what they were chatting about. What Jake said that was so funny. What made Joe lean his head back and laugh. I watched them race forward, excited to get out there and see what had changed.
Playing in the mud.
Laughing with a friend.
Enjoying nature’s gifts.
Not thinking it will end.
At what point do we realize that all things pass on to a new stage, a new chapter? Do we wake up one day and remember how things have changed so much?
Or, is it gradual and bittersweet?
Is it remembering little things sparked by the mundane tasks of the day?
Washing the dishes and seeing days of trampoline bounces and tree climbing through the window.
Folding the laundry and remembering little socks and shirts long since donated, thrown away, or turned into rags.
Grocery shopping and memories of days making siren noises while pushing the fire engine grocery cart. Knowing that the little person truly believed he was driving through the aisles.
Some things in life are sudden and jarring, like the unexpected death of a loved one. But so many bittersweet changes are gradual and imperceptible.
Standing at the sink,
washing sheets and clothes.
A picture with a memory
of how swiftly our time goes.