Here I am, holding a chicken named Giblet. You may not realize it, but this picture represents me conquering my fear of chickens. I don’t know where it stems from, but growing up, my nightmares were not about snakes or spiders, they were about chickens. Chickens were creepy, with claws instead of feet or paws, and scared looking faces.
But one year, the girls and I spent an entire summer at the farm, and I thought it would be a good idea to get chickens. So, we headed to that feed store on Harlem Avenue, the one right across the bridge into Summit, and picked out two Rhode Island Reds, and two Barred Rock chicks. They were named Sunny, … well, honestly, I only remember Sunny, because she was our special needs chicken, and kept getting in trouble. But that is a story to share around the campfire on retreat. Here they are resting and growing.
Now, just before these ideas took form, I was out garage saleing and had a chance encounter with a really nice guy named Jerry who was walking down the same sidewalk I was, carrying a chicken. This was interesting to me so we started chatting and he showed me his coop in his backyard. He told me that several of his chickens were getting old, and not laying so well, so it was time take them out for a chicken dinner. (Get it? Take them out?) A couple of weeks later, after I got my great idea about having chickens at the farm I called him and asked if I could have these “marked men” (actually, chickens that lay eggs are of course women, but you know that). He said, sure! So, that summer we packed four of his chickens into a dog crate, and along with our chicks, headed to the farm. Here is that Giblet again, feeling very relieved.
It was fun raising the babies. Here they are finding a perch on an old log. They were too young to lay eggs that summer, but Jerry’s chickens gave us an egg a day or so.
As I suspected, raising grown chickens from furry little chicks helped me get over my ooojy feeling around these critters. And, they are really interesting creatures. I have a few stories to share about chickens that, again, will have to wait for one of our campfire chats on retreat. But, I’ll tell you one now. Mostly, the chickens just ignored us, but one day I pulled up in the car and they all came running up to me, squawking, like they were trying desperately to tell me something. I couldn’t figure it out. But later, I realized one was missing. After a search, I found her, dead of an apparent heart attack, under a big pine tree. I realized that the chickens wanted to tell me this. I thought that was really funny. Here we are, burying that chicken. RIP.
When the summer came to a close, and we were faced with returning to the city, I asked my neighbor Toni if she wanted to start a flock of her own, as I could start her out with eight…no, seven…of her very own. She said, sure! Toni takes better care of animals than anyone I know, and built these chickens the Taj Mahal of coops. Here is Sylvia with Giblet again, (yes, Giblet is the only one that tolerated being held) in front of the palace.
Here is an inside view. Don’t you love blue eggs?
And so, that is the story of my conquering my fear of chickens. And I leave you with this picture, of my mom lounging under the trees, with that ever-present library book, and four chicks foraging at her feet. Frankly, this is as good as it gets.