I had a peripatetic childhood, and by the time I finished high school I’d attended well over a dozen schools on three different continents, with time off for good behavior during a glorious year (in about third grade) where there wasn’t a school anywhere in sight. My mother, who was largely disinterested in her parenting responsibilities for most of her life, wasn’t really into the idea of homeschooling, and so I spent most of that year loafing with what few little English friends I had, and playing with the children of the Nigerian house staff. The following year I resumed school somewhere else, in the appropriate grade, with apparently no ill effects at all.
I remember reading only one really childish picture book, although surely there were more. That book was Little Chick Chick, a tiny paperback about a small chick who disobeyed his mother, got himself lost, and ended up spending the night all alone in the pouring rain, hiding underneath an empty tomato soup can by the side of the road. Fortunately for my own mother’s sanity, his mother hen retrieved him the next day, slapped him upside the head with her wing, and all ended well. But before this happy outcome, and at each sight of poor Little Chick Chick shivering and desolate next to the tomato soup can, the two-year-old me would cry floods and floods of inconsolable tears.
Eventually, my mother became so rattled by my outbursts that she took to hiding the book. She would hide the book. I would find the book. She (and subsequently I) would read the book. And off I would go, into uncontrollable sobs, again.
And then, she consigned Little Chick Chick to the flames and that was the end of that. (About fifteen years ago, I found a copy on eBay, and so we’ve been reunited. And yes, I, a fifty year-old woman, cried like the child I once was, the first time I read it then, too). Poor Little Chick Chick. (You can read the PDF of the book I wrote, printed and bound for my granddaughter’s third Christmas here. Tucked into a pocket on the last page was my newly-acquired, but still precious, copy of Little Chick Chick. Life goes on, and the circle closes.
Again, and again.
So. There I was this afternoon, out for my regular 2 1/2 mile jaunt down to the end of the road, left along the stream bank, and then turn around at the first intersection and then back home. (A few of you reading this have walked this walk with me once or twice.) There’s often some interesting wildlife to observe, most usually taking the form of beaver, mink, muskrat, deer, and a selection of water birds ranging from kingfishers to geese to heron to hawks to several varieties of duck. A companionable walk when, on the rare occasions these days there are two of us, but even alone it’s refreshing and interesting.
Today, though, just before I got to the “T” at the bottom of the road, I noticed a stirring in the bushes to my right. So I stopped. And waited. A few seconds later, out emerged two of the sorriest specimens of gallus gallus domesticus I’ve ever seen. Bedraggled. Frostbit. Thin. Desperate.
So friendly I could totally imagine taking them home with me. Poor little chick chicks. And not even a tomato soup can in sight. But, not having much chicken experience, I was a bit leery of the idea of grabbing them, sticking one under each arm, and marching up the hill towards home.
So I did what any sane person in my neck of the woods would do in such a circumstance. I got out my phone, and called my dear friend and neighbor, Randy M. He’s so much better than Ghostbusters, trust me.
And, as usual, he didn’t fail. “I’ll be down shortly,” he said.
I sat down at the side of the road and started chatting to my new friends. While I was waiting for Randy three delightful elderly neighbor gentlemen driving pickup trucks (two of whom I’d never met–the gentlemen, not the pickup trucks) stopped to chat. None of them seemed to find my behavior in the least odd. I love this place.
Soon, Randy appeared in his own pickup, bearing a wire crate and, as usual, impeccable wisdom and rational sense. “Ah, the chicken whisperer,” he said, as he came out to greet me. He showed me how to grab the beasts, and we shoved them into the crate. In a bit, I’m going up to his place to get some feed, and he’ll tell me what I need to do over the next few days to see if I can bring these guys back from the edge.
Meanwhile, Ugg and Bugg (I think they’re both cocks, pretty sure in the one case, not-so-much in the other because its head and comb is in such a sad state) are in the workshop settling down.
And the population count at Chateau Right has grown by two. I don’t mind a bit. Once they’ve recovered somewhat from their ordeal, I’ll figure out what “gender” they are, and even what race, color, or ethnicity. Doesn’t matter. They’re here, and they’re safe. And that’s what’s important.
True story follows: So (again). There I was, just yesterday, on the phone with a friend, talking about the rather diffuse and sometimes disorganized (and–woke points!!!–diverse) inhabitants of Chez She. “Have you ever considered chickens?” he asked. “Have I ever!” I replied. “Certainly for the last several years, but somehow, when it came right down to it, life always got in the way.” “Still,” I continued, “I’d like to try it this year, and my friend Randy said that he’d provide a few fully grown hens and a cock to get me started, as he doesn’t recommend starting with the babies. So, perhaps this year, it will happen.”
I reiterate, this conversation took place less than 24 hours ago.
Sometimes, the Good Lord just wants you to have chickens.