City Girl in the Country – With Chickens

On the current episode of City Girl in the Country, the Dunhams are raising chickens. For real.

Our story begins months ago when teen daughter got word that Grandpa was looking to pass on the circa 1985 incubator that I, Mother, used in high school to hatch chickens for a science fair project. Thus began Principessa’s campaign to revive the experience.

She was very clever in her approach, presenting her self-initiated research in an inflatedly responsible manner. Failing to be convinced of the wisdom of this project earned me a less enjoyable round of begging. When that, too, failed, Principessa enlisted Grandpa’s help. “After all,” he argued, “I let you do it. Why would you rob your daughter of the experience?”

Principessa echoed with “Mom, I only have two more years. Then I’m GONE.” (To college, that is.) Principessa’s new go-to source of ammunition is her impending departure from our household. She knows this pulls on her parents’ heartstrings and bends our sympathies in her favor.

The next week, I found myself clearing a space in my home office for this:

incubator metal

Home to the miracle of life.

To deny my excitement about the process would be a lie. I adore a birth story. So much so, that I became a doula after I was done birthing my own babies so I could still be part of the process. But I drew the line at hatching. We would NOT be keeping chickens.

As incubation days ticked by, Principessa and I became increasingly attached to….eggs. Which, as it turned out, are what all seven were – just eggs with potential. In poultry world they’re called ‘quitters.’ I mean, really, how insensitive! We were crushed.

With hatching fever running rampant, we decided to purchase an updated incubator and a new clutch of eggs. When we candled them at day 13 of 21 and saw definite signs of life in 6 out of 7, Principessa screamed so loudly that husband came running, thinking an egg had exploded. Instead, he found Principessa and me hugging, crying, and rejoicing for our little chicks. Husband admonished us for scaring him, shook his head and walked away grumbling about our insanity.

It was around this time that I caved in my resolve to put the chicks up for adoption. I postulated that raising chickens was much less of a commitment than other pets we’ve entertained. And besides, we love fresh eggs.

We hadn’t calculated that the chicks would hatch on Mother’s Day. So we were ecstatic when we found this:

chick 1

You can imagine how the rest of the day progressed. Principessa and I kept our noses pressed against the incubator for hours, content to watch and wait and listen to the happy sound of peeping. When husband insisted that we tear ourselves away to the kitchen for a family dinner that he had cooked, we reluctantly agreed in hopes that there would be progress in the other eggs upon our return. Not fifteen minutes later, Beagle left the table to retrieve a ringing phone and announced that another egg had hatched. Husband was duly remorseful.

I am happy to report that we witnessed three of the six eggs hatch and are now the proud caretakers of these:

chicks new

Now all we need is a hen house, which husband offered to build.  He did not promise the Taj Mahal but he did promise Fort Knox.  There are numerous predators surrounding our house, waiting for chicken dinner.  Husband is handy, yes, but not  a professional builder.  So I borrowed a book from the library:  “Building Chicken Coops for Dummies” which I asked husband to pick up on his way home.  He refused on the premise that it would be like telling a man to ask for directions.  Not happening.  So I retrieved the book myself with the intention of reading it TO him.  Won’t that be fun?

I do hope chicken-keeping will go better than vegetable growing.  We are learning as we go, but are confident that we’ve made a good choice.  Stay tuned.  And move over, Farmer Brown.  City Girl is taking the country by storm!

Farther Down The Road

two footprintsMother can hear grown son screaming to her, or at her, from a distance ahead.  She is hard of hearing but can still make out a tone of annoyance, if not the actual words.  “Catch up, Mom!  Get with the times.  Live!”

Mother wants to oblige.  She promised to follow her baby to the ends of the earth.  But she finds that she can’t keep up now, and son will not slow down.  Can she blame him?  He has a young life to live.  He is smitten with his own family, his glitzy career, his agenda.

Mother is not youthful anymore.  She doesn’t want to give in to ‘old’ yet, but age is calling the shots and she is powerless over it.  Fears are creeping in at a rapid pace. She knows her limits.  Eventually, she gives up the chase and sits down at the side of the path.  It feels so good to rest.   And so lonely.

Mother hardly recognizes herself.  She remembers a time when she was fun and open-minded.  She and son took on the world together.  But the world is faster now, and she is slower.  Speed is no longer a friend.  So she reverts to safe mode, which annoys her son.

Son is easily frustrated by Mother’s evolution.  He is impatient and critical.  He wants her to be the hero she used to be:  ‘Mother the Great’: Invincible Adventurer of Life and Defender of Love.  Deep down Mother knows that son is fearful too.  He sees her slipping away and feels a piece of himself breaking off.  The man he is will not allow him to accept the inevitable.  He will fight age and death by ignoring the signs. He will pretend, as he is accustomed, that Mother is indestructible.

Mother recalls a time when her son was little, playing by the lakeside on a breezy day.  Frustrated that his toy boats were repeatedly knocked over, he asked Mother to stop the wind.  She wanted to oblige her son’s naïve wish but she had to admit that even Mother couldn’t stop the wind.  These many years later, the son is the wind and it is Mother who wants to pin it down, just for a second, to capture the foregone moments that are now only distant memories.

Someday, too soon, Mother will stop travelling the path and come to rest for the last time.  If he is not careful, son may wander too far ahead and regret his absence from the transition.  But today he has a choice.  He could sit a spell with Mother, as difficult as it is, and try to see the world through her eyes for a change – just as she did for him all those years.  Or he could choose to carry Mother a few paces so she could be part of his world.  Both choices will require a concession on the son’s part.

The son’s choice will not change the final destination.  The path was carved long ago for him and his mother.  But his decision will change the journey, and the journey is what matters.  Mother taught him that.

Perhaps the boy chooses well.  Or not.  Mother and son cannot know what the next day will bring. Every day is a different chapter in the story.  The only thing that is certain is that mother loves son, and son loves mother, no matter what happens on the path.

%d bloggers like this: