Thursday, March 15, 2012

One Black Sex Link Ninja Chick

That's a sex link, alright
The chicks are here, the replacements.  It sounds like I've captured and caged spring in our sun room.  The little clouds are already starting on their true feathers at only 8 days.  We like to pick them up, hold them, little new moments.  I like the feel of their warm branchy feet, and little bit solid, a little bit dreamy, tickley.  The large box is covered by a wire screen to keep out cats and kittens (it's a baby-happy farm right now) and it leaves a plaid branding our our foreheads as we lean in to watch.  They sprawl under the heat lamp, new wings unfolded, flapped open like laundry going on the line. The way they sleep is like babies, with this dead limpness you want to jolt awake to make sure it's not permanent. They scratch up the shavings directly into the watering dish. But otherwise, they are incomprehensibly suited for the life of a chicken.  How do they know moments after emerging to scratch beneath them for food, to sip water by cupping it in their beaks, turning their heads up, and pouring it down their gullets like communion. Exactly what and how to do it, that's what they're born with.  I'm used to human babies who still can't seem to dress themselves lo these 10 and 7 years later.  Hell, 36 years later I'm still puzzling out what it means to be human and how to do this.

Just this morning, for a slap-stick example, I trekked from house to barn without my cover-alls because they were cold and inconveniently shoved into the bottom of the entry closet and anyway I never get all that dirty.  And as any observant human versed in the irony of fate, today was the day where the March mud was too thick for the crap load and the wheelbarrow and I were obligated to wrestle and I was dressed, not as a seasoned wrestler, but as idiot in fresh jeans.  And that's how I am, ill-suited for almost every task of modern life, like I'm the one that was born yesterday.

Is it really possible to come into this world like that, completely prepared for it?  That's why I stare at the baby chicks.  My kids are maybe thinking they're cute, but I'm trying to suss out the magic of being perfectly suited to the life before you.

We picked up a rainbow of chicks. The store policy, untransgressible as always, is a minimum purchase of six chicks.  So we came home with six - several more than I wanted.  We can see the housing crash coming from here.  We are going to have to figure out how to house 8 chickens (including the two that survived our first batch).  It's a riddle alright.

humanling mastering the fine art of existence
I was describing to someone the illness that swept through our old flock, the Christmas Crisis, and I was telling her how there was nothing to be done but replace them in spring.  She somehow thought that meant I hadn't done anything and she mistakenly contrasted herself with me saying, "If my chickens got sick, I would definitely take care of them.  I love my chickens." Ah, naive and inexperienced newbie, never a death to darken her one-year-old coop doors yet.  I've learned to let people stay that way, in their bliss.  The bubble will be popped naturally enough.

It's not that you don't want to do anything, it's that with chickens there's not much to be done.  I no longer felt like telling her how I cradled them, hand mixed antibiotics, pried open their lock-jawed beaks and dripped it in on Christmas Eve. I no longer felt like cataloging the process of the discovery: NO vets in the area know anything about chickens.  When I meet these sorts of quick, erroneous assumptions, I admit I'm confused about how to deal with them.  I don't owe anyone anything, any explanation, any excuse, anything.  And that's all explanations sound like to someone who's made up their mind about you: lame excuses.  And yet, sometimes it might make sense to defend oneself and reputation, but it's just chickens...

In other arenas, I'm learning to bite back and bite quickly.  I present more Valley Girl than Smarty Pants.  This is really a problem, believe me. And so when patronizing arises in circumstances where I need to be respected and heard, it seems to be working well for me to address the problem immediately, mid-sentence, and them move on to my larger point.  But with chickens, who the hell cares?  I guess that's just what she meant... they're not worth biting back about.

So we've got Leghorn ("Ah say, ah say, ah say whatcha lookin' at, son!") Luna, Rhode Island Red Poppy, Rhode Island Red Glory, Wyandotte Sri Racha, Black Sex Link Ninja, and Black Australorp Zoe. And in a few months, they'll meet Barred Rock Dragon and White Rock Priscilla. That's eight chickens and seven varieties. As they say: We don't just tolerate diversity, we celebrate it! And until disease, coyote or owl strike, this is our rainbow of egg-makers, a pot of golden yolks at the end.

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