So today was a banner day. At 5:00 this morning, the phone rings. Normally, a call at 5 would mean something really bad, but all our relatives are already dead, the kids were safely tucked away in bed, and I could certainly hear The Goose snoring beside me, so I ignored it. The call was from “blocked” and I can see no reason to answer a call from someone who wishes to remain anonymous.
Upon waking at a decent hour, I checked my messages. The call came from the post office, telling me that I had a box of peeping chicks waiting there. Now, there are many points of interest here, but let’s focus on the part about the post office calling me at 5:00 am. Who would ever want to know a package had arrived at that hour?
I rushed up to get them, all smiley and jumpy and smacked right into the wall of gloom. There are three places, which should be friendly places, where one can be guaranteed to come face to face with the rudest, grouchiest, most miserable people ever. They are, in order, any Christian bookstore, the public library, and the US Post Office. These workers are always foul (yes, go ahead and enjoy the bird pun, take joy where you can). Plus, the post office has the same frightening line drama as does TJ Maxx. I live in fear of not going to the right person in time. TJ Maxx worries the living dickens out of me, with the light system and the computer voice coming from different directions. Someone always has to nudge me and point out where to go. At the post office, they just look down and shout “next!” and then look away as if they never said anything. I swear, it’s a trick. This leaves me to glance around, point at myself and mouth “me?” and get nothing but blank stares in return. Finally, someone usually screams out in frustration, “are you ready or what?” and I make it to the right helpful postal worker.
Today, I was on my game and got right up there with no issue. I was so wiggly and smiling that I missed what she asked me. “Address”, she said. “Oh, no,” I said, “I’m here to pick up” and she rolled her eyes and stepped back like I was the worst thing she could have come across on this Thursday. I was a little over the top, with a lime green coat, a periwinkle scarf, glitter boots and hot pink earrings. I dressed for fun. I finally comprehended what she wanted from me and she arrived back with a box of peeping chicks. A whole heck of a lot of them. More than I remember ordering on that gloomy night a few months ago.
I whipped the top from the box, oogling and cooing and showing the woman next to me. I explained that they were Polish Top Hats, fancy chickens with giant plumes on their heads, who sort of resemble Beaker from the Muppets a bit. They are fabulous, flamboyant birds who belong on RuPaul’s Drag Race more than in a barnyard. I hear Gloria Gaynor and Rick James playing somewhere when I see them.
The woman beside me did make the appropriate response but then ruined it and said “you’re going to get the bird flu”. I restrained myself from letting her in on the fact that her horrendous hairdo did nothing to distract from her giant behind in glittery jeans.
I know I might have a problem. Several people plus my family have insinuated as much. My running partner, Peaches, came right out and called me a chicken hoarder. Seeing this giant batch, I find that might be true. I just can’t help myself. Those peeping little fuzzys set my soul on fire. Even when grown, I find them absolutely fascinating. I can lose hours in the barn, watching their little social groups and listening to the sounds they make. Researchers have found that chickens have at least 30 individual sounds for different meanings.
Anyone with chickens knows when an egg is being laid. The entire barn erupts into a ruckus that means “an egg is coming, an egg is coming!”. I have certain sweet hens who are the designated “setters”, sitting on everyone’s eggs while allowing other hens to remain carefree floozies. There are some who have some characteristic or pheromone so alluring to roosters that they have no feathers on their backs because of all the whoopie going on.
Several years ago I got into a winter rut and found an incubator. This allowed me to barge right into their cycle of life and, yes, feel a bit goddess like in the process. I find it hard to resist hatching their beautiful baby blue eggs and saving them from the refrigerator. My family actually staged an intervention, asking me earnestly to just stop. So, mostly I stopped, but hatch one or two now or then for a quick fix and then hide the babies until they are bigger.
Today, I have a set up a big bin in my sunroom, flanked by orchids and violets, much to the dismay of my dogs, so I can listen to these little guys peeping and scratching for a while. I fear the looks I will be getting when The Goose, the kids and even Consuela, who will just shake her head and say “oh, Miz”, get here. I am going to be sure to get Babette off her feather bed in front of the fireplace before anyone comes home, get my stubborn old nag of a horse, Gracie and her sidekick donkey, Bethlehem, back into the pasture, be sure Clarence the sheep isn’t in the garage and put the cats out. I’m going to find my most va va va voom Victoria’s Secret bra and my lowest cut shirt to distract The Goose and put brownies in the oven for the kids. Everything is okay here, folks, things are just fine, pay no attention to the chirping from the back of the house.
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Well, thanks a lot. Now you have me wanting to raise chickens in my postal stamp-sized backyard in the middle of the city. But seriously, I *love* getting packages and I can’t imagine a better package than one full of baby chicks. Except maybe kittens. Or certain beers.
One or two hens take up no room whatsoever. They make quiet little coos and reward you with an egg a day. Bantam hens are little miniature hens, so look into those. But remember, their eggs are small too. I have Aracuanas, which lay blue eggs and Polish, which are just fabulous. I encourage anyone to get some hens. They don’t need much room and are fascinating to watch. Just beware of dogs wanting chicken legs. Check out http://www.IdealPoultry.com.