NEWS FLASH

peas and garlic----heralds of spring.

Ominous sounds of the hammer, the whine of the saw, crashes of wood—sounds from the garage startled me because they seemed such a call to action. So I acted in the only way I could think of, which was to go out in the garage and check out what was going on, but don’t think I wasn’t feeling a little bit timid about it. And then, as so often happens, I opened thr door on what seemed a peaceful scene, Jim sawing in his determined way, tossing around two -by-fours and wood panels as if they were chopsticks. There was, for the moment, no sign of potential disaster.

I dared to ask what was going on.  What are you making?  in my most cheerful voice.

Chickens. That was the cheerful reply.

It seems that the children in the Center Street School’s first grade had raised these charmers from egghood.  But vacation was right around the corner. A dilemma for the children had turned out to be a another batch of chickens, another point in the heavenly sweepstakes for Jim. Of course he said yes when the teacher asked if he wouldn’t like to care for them, not just for the chickens’ sake, but for all the little children who had given so much of themselves to create this brood.

And there is a sidebar to this story. The one remaining black chicken who wandered for days and weeks alone and grieving was attacked by something the other night.  Betsy and Jim and Teddy all heard the commotion and ran out only to find the black chicken in an inert lump in a corner of weeds and brush. Jim put her back in the coop, but she has undergone a complete change in personality. She is no longer the Little Black Hen skittering around in an important way calling out that the sky is falling. She is sleeping late, coming out around eleven and  pecks silently for a few worms near home. Traumatized now she is vulnerable to whatever dangers are waiting for a chance to swallow her up. Jim is playing his cards close to his vest. What will he do with her when the new chickens are able to to go into the new coop and begin providing for themselves. Perhaps Patty Makeley can dig up an answer to this puzzle that is acceptable all around.

Meantime here is the new crate of chickens–first class, luxury crate designed by Jim for six tan and golden (I don’t know what kind they are) chickens. I am going to suggest that he invite a parade of first graders over to view the results of their work once a real expert takes over. So far these babies have just begun to molt and get into their grown up feathers. They love their fresh straw, and you can see them occasionally looking out through their chicken wire walls to see what goes on in the garage. Do they care?

I haven’t mentioned my own feelings regarding the new chickens, partly, I guess, because they are so negative.  They will now be safely confined inside their fence when they are set out, no longer free to dig up flowers, scratch away mulch, pollute the patio and lawn. We don’t even know whether they lay eggs much. It’s a worth thinking about the steps that have led up to this unsettling moment.

In need of a science project for Fiona during her home school year, Betsy thought raising chickens might carry her through both some theory and method. Fiona herself was very enthusiastic and entered into it with high hopes for fun and learning. With her dad she studied breeds of chicken and went with him to the feed store where they ordered six of them. It was the beginning of March, cold and damp. Fiona helped her dad build and equip the cage in the basement with straw and heat. She fed them and scolded the cats for coming too near. The time came in May for the chickens to be moved outdoors. Jim designed a new coop with an upstairs with nesting spots, each equipped with a golf ball to persuade the chicken to lay their eggs there. Fiona fed the chickens. But you can guess, I think, how it was. Summer starts. There’s ballet camp and books that need to be read. There’s swimming and long afternoons picknicking and hiking in the woods.

Fiona, have you fed the chickens?

No.

Please feed them now.

Just a minute.

These semi-positive dialogs lasted no more than a few weeks. Slowly, but surely, Fiona’s mission to the chickens seem to have ended, the default solution being Jim and Betsy. The chickens had grown to adulthood. One turned out to be a rooster and was taken to a farm. They wandered through the garden and dug up all the lettuce and garlic. A riot of fences began to appear. One egg was found in a bush, but soon the chickens figured out about the golf balls. One day three chickens died at once. There was no explanation. After a winter of occupying the patio the two remaining chickens moved up the hill to a maze of fences to keep foxes and deer out and chickens in. And then there was one. Where will she go; What will she do, when the new chickens join her. It’s eleven am and she still hasn’t appeared. A whole new chicken experience looms head. Always optimistic I  think they might have dug up japanese beetle larvae in the spring when still allowed out. At least I haven’t seen any yet. And the new ones. Maybe they’ll be able to contribute something. Let’s just wait and see, I say to myself. I’d really rather talk about the garlic though, and about the little planting that’s left to do. Maybe I can do it tomorrow before Betsy and Fiona and I go off to our yearly birthday lunch with Rita at the Otesaga.

 

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About dorothybloom

Well, I'm a bit on the elderly side , but I'm fighting the decline with my entry into the virtual world. I've been thinking for while that my situation is worth talking a, and for this reason. There is a tension between old and new. The old are intent upon keeping their authority and the young are intent on getting it for themselves. hereThis tension is as old as the Neanderthal and many of his four-legged cousins. And I want to explore that.
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2 Responses to NEWS FLASH

  1. Patty Biggs says:

    Hi Dorothy,
    Yes, more chickens! I am honored that you mentioned me. Since I locked myself in the coop while I was visiting, I am one w/the chickens! I will ask Stacey & Bob about the blending of the chickens since they have 12 ladies & 6 new girls that are still too small to add to the flock. We were laughing that there might be a gang war: ladies verus girls due the pecking order, etc… I do know that they like dried mealy worms from tractor supply, green grass, watermelon & I never want to be locked in the coop again! Too Alfred Hitchcock for me.
    By the way, I got my 1st tomatoes out of the garden yesterday-1 each of the red,yellow & black. They are wondeful to eat w/the fresh basil & mozzarella. Enjoy your lunch tomorrow!
    Love to all,
    Patty

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