The Muse apparently doesn’t like to get her hands dirty; she’s been conspicuously absent during this last couple weeks of intense dirt-moving, planting, and chick-wrangling. But I feel so many of those moments I’d been aspiring to preserve slipping away, I need to record at least SOMETHING of the recent past. Time is limited at this juncture, so I’ll start out with the one most rife with cuteness: Our acquisition of four adorable little chicks.
These fuzzballs were incubated and hatched by one of the kindergarten classes at my son’s school. I’d spoken to the teacher about taking one last fall, when I was overjoyed to learn about her project’s potential for replenishing my sadly diminished flock. (Mystery predators had reduced their number to two, a venerable five-year-old Chicken Elder named Minerva and a two-year-old named Regardez. I was sadly contemplating having to suck it up and buy store-bought eggs, but amazingly, the pair kept me in eggs all winter. Regardez laid gamely through the bitterest cold—at some points, her eggs exploded when they went from the sub-zero exterior to the house’s warmth—even though she had no supplemental heat or light. Now, apparently, she feels she’s served her time and has stopped laying, but Minerva took over egg production almost immediately. It’s a feat worthy of a Biblical matriarch, given her age.)
Despite my elder chickens’ impressive efforts, I felt we needed a new generation to take over when they finally retire. Hence the chicks. I’d originally intended to get three, but they were so darn cute, I ended up with four. The teacher selected chicks that she thought were hens, but we won’t know for sure until the first egg is laid and/or the first cock-a-doodle-doo sounds from the coop. I’m trying to reconcile myself to the sad knowledge that any with the misfortune of being male will likely have to go to our neighbors and become their dinner (not an option for slaughter-squeamish me). In the meantime, though, Sage is having a great time with them. One of his favorite things to do is “check on the chicks.” We’ve had them outside a couple of times when it’s been warm enough—to get them accustomed to the grass and allow me to change their litter—and it’s a credit to the brave little birds that they don’t seem to have developed complexes. (The combination of being wildly wielded by a running five-year-old and frantically darting away from a puppy desperate for new playmates should be enough to put any bird into avian therapy.) Nevertheless, they seem well-adjusted enough, Sage is happy with his new pets, and Chaussette lives in the eternal hope that one of the chicks will see the light and play with her after all.