Helllllooooooo SPRING!!! I know it’s not technically time for the seasons to change yet, but with the way I’m feeling now Spring has already shown up early to work, swiped her key card, and officially punched in. WooHOO!!
As with every Spring, the negotiations begin around the Schenanigans Homestead, and it all circles around the sensitive topic of poultry ownership. See, round about July, when the days are hot and effort has melted onto the sidewalk and run down the storm drain, I promised myself (and probably my husband) that I would never again raise hens from chicks again. I’d sold my incubator, I’d sold my heat lamps, I used up all the remaining chick starter crumbles (baby chick chow), and assured my dear husband that I am down for the count when it comes to selling and raising chicks. Whew. Glad that’s done.
But mysteriously every year just, after the New Years resolutions have been made and forgotten, I get that same old fever. First the Meyers Hatchery catalog comes in the mail, and I take a peek just to daydream. It’s soon followed by Hoover Hatchery in Iowa, and Murray McMurray- the Gucci hatchery. Next my inbox fills with offers for broilers on sale. Those are the meat chicks, and in my opinion, gross to raise. They are easy to ignore. I mentally high-five myself for my will power and keep checking e-mail like I never saw it.
But then the day comes that during a routine run to Tractor Supply that I find that the egg layer chicks have arrived, and I suffer acute will power amnesia. Never heard of self-control. My mission is clear. I need chicks. I need chicks, AND my marriage. This means, I need Captain Schenanigans blessing. The Holy Grail of wifely chicken ownership!
This is gonna take work.
First, we lay the groundwork for negotiations. Captain and I discuss where we are at currently, and what needs to be fixed regarding the hens we have. This means, I need to find a way to keep our free range hens in their run (which they hop over and get bumblefoot upon landing), and all of their millions of droppings off our back decks, shoes, and lawn furniture. Ew. Like I said, this is gonna take some work. But I hatched a plan (get it) to increase the height of my current fence, ALL. BY. MY.SELF. This was part of the deal- my hens would not add to Captain Schenanigans to-do list. That seemed fair, and I nailed it! Not literally. By using a borrowed post sledge and 7-ft metal posts (not easy considering I am 5ft 7inches and that sledge is HEAVY), I added a second layer of green mesh fencing. Under the watchful eye of Manchild, who sat in the hammock and munched fistfuls of Lebanon Bologna, I zip tied like a champion. My promise fulfilled.
I then had to promise the Captain that he would neither see, smell, or have to walk around my chicks in his living space, recording studio, or garage. Clearly, I had abused these privileges in the past. But where, in this small rancher, could I stash peeps and a heat lamp in a space that was mine? Most nights I barely had my own side of the bed, thankyouverymuchchildren.
“Well, there is your Spa Bathroom in the basement.”, Captain Schenanigans helpfully pointed out. The one I recently outfitted with a brand new plush memory foam bathmat, a lavish soaking pillow, thick towels, 5 new scented candles, and bath bombs galore! I paused.
“Okay”, I shrugged.
I then had to promise not to keep any new chicks. They were for fun and educational purposes only (I planned an Animal Education Open House for our young friends, and the chicks will travel to Manchild’s preschool class as well). Not new family members- we had more than enough of those, I was informed. I promised to sell these chicks to my chicken friend (she and I had agreed to this before I approached Captain Schenanigans) after they stop being cute and needing a heat lamp.
Finally it was all settled. We knew our agreement. I was permitted to purchase whatever the heck kind of chicks I wanted, so long as they stayed in the a fore mentioned boundaries. The kids and I were it hog heaven!
I showed up at the house after work on Tuesday, announced that we were heading to Tractor Supply to buy chicks (3 hours after the Agreement), and the whole living room erupted into bouncy cheers. The children lost control of their emotions as their elation hit the ceiling, and ricochet back down upon my mildly surprised mother. It was her day to watch the young ‘ens, and I don’t think she has ever seen them this animated.
I began doling out orders, not knowing if the kids were physically capable of achieving them or not, in an effort to make it to the store and back before dinner. “Girlchild, go in the garage and find a heat lamp!” “Manchild, bring in our biggest recycling bin and rinse it out.” Amazingly, my children are quite capable on Chick Day. How my 4yr old was able to locate a heat lamp that his 7yr old sister couldn’t unearth, in a convoluted tangle of tools and boxes, is bewildering. And the fact that both kids could scrub clean a recycling bin that was temporarily being recycled into a chick brooder, without soaking each other with the hose, was purely astounding.
We settled on 8 bantam (miniature) clean legged (no leg feathers) chicks, as they would make lousy laying hens, and decrease my temptation to keep one forever. I rigged up a heat lamp situation in my Spa Bathroom, with a sack of open feed next to the tub, and a space heater taking a chill out out the air. We were in business.
Now I’m not going to tell you that having chicks in your home solves all your issues. I still find dirty cat foot prints on the toilet seat from when Jax gets thirsty. I still managed to throw my cell phone away at Chickfila, then proceed to go rummage through the trash like a teenager missing a retainer with Ms. Jean the sauce dealer. But it does add an element of excitement to the quite moments of the day, when you can scoop up a tiny feathered creature, wrap it in a poop catching paper towel, and hold it close against your chest like cheap (cheep) therapy. I named the smallest one Squeaker.
Tonight I experienced a new type of chick “bonding”, shall we say. It had been a long day, and I was desperately in need of a soak in a hot bath. While I had not counted on using my luxury bathroom during chick season, I decided to give it a try. After moving aside my plush bathmat, lighting ALL the candles to cover the musty aroma of warm chicken poop, and popping in a fizzy lavender bath bomb to ensure my nasal pleasures, I found my spa bathroom-turned-chick-brooder not such a bad thing at all. The gentle cheeps and chortles of small baby voices was soothing to hear, the space heater keeping the air balmy, and a 50lb sack of Chick Starter makes an excellent place to lay your open book when you decide to submerge. Now, I’m not saying the Spa/Brooder room will ever take off in Better Homes & Gardens, but for the occasional plush cowgirl, this might could be a real asset to any home! Just saying…