I've wanted to raise chickens for a long time - close to 10 years now. One day, not long after my sister Sharon moved out to upstate NY and decided to farm, I went out for the weekend. She and I were going to take the kids out for lunch - my nephew who is now 11 was 2.5, and the almost-10 year old was an infant. Her other two kids were far in the future, and while she had a garden and some chickens, the CSA and the farm were yet to be created.
So I'm putting a double stroller into the trunk my little 1999 Olds Alero, which was a tad tricksy. Took a few minutes, and much maneuvering. When I finally managed to get it in there, I heard a little noise behind me. "Brrbuk?" It was almost a question.
Startled, I turned around to find a line of about 6 chickens with their heads cocked, watching me intently. "Brrbuk?" said the first one again. Might have been chicken for "Hey, hi - haven't seen you around before and what the heck is it you are doing? You seem pretty interested in it, so can we see too?"
So, trying to be sociable, I said "Hi".
Yes, I talked to the chicken. You would have too. Admit it.
Apparently that was all the invitation that was needed, and they bopped around my car, looking in the passenger door, and poking at the tires.
I was mesmerized, not unlike my kid is at Sturbridge Village when the sheep come to the fence looking to be fed, and she obliges. They were chipper and friendly and fascinated with me, the car, and everything. I'm not a big pet person - I like cats and dogs okay, but I've always been the sort that thinks of pets as a life option, not a necessity.
But the chicken thing stuck with me. Since we moved into our house in 2007, we've been talking about it, but much has come first - needed maintenance & repairs, the adorable one, and so on. This year we finally dove in and bought a coop and arranged with my sister to get some chicks. Since they need to be ordered in batches of 25, it's always good to 'go in' with others. Ordering issues, the heat wave in July and other things have held up the arrival for several months.
After many delays, we were expecting the chicks Sunday - yesterday. The adorable one and I filled the box in the kitchen that was to be their first home with sawdust, and mixed some chick feed with grit.
They had arrived in NY at the farm, and my Mom was supposed to drive them here.
Sunday morning the phone rang. My sister. With some really bad news. They went out on Saturday. Something got in the barn. Killed all the chicks - mine and hers. No survivors. She's going to try to get a replacement shipment before the cold weather comes. This time they'll live in the house until they make their way to us.
Poor babies. The adorable one wants to know when she can feed her chickens, when Nanna will come with them. I have no good answer for her. 2 1/2 is a little young to be talking about death. "Sweetie, they couldn't come today, but they will soon, I'm sorry".
So again we wait. This time with an empty box of sawdust in the kitchen. I'm not moving it yet. I've waited this long, I can wait a little longer.