You may wonder by my title, but I am not studying a foreign language. Or maybe I am.
We are in the progress of building a backyard barnyard on our newly acquired half-acre lot. Though Charity has more gardening experience on a fire escape that I do in my spacious yard, I have grand dreams of walking barefoot through my personal Eden and dining on the exquisite fruits of my labor. In reality, I am watching gophers dig up my yard (I have never even seen such a creature, and already I loathe them) and I am struggling to keep my one house plant alive through the winter.
Our first step toward farm-hood was the arrival of our chickens. It was not the most romantic introduction to country life. Some of my husband’s cousins offered us their little coop and flock and we enthusiastically accepted. Shea went and picked them up in our rockin’ country pickup truck with the antlers on the front. Oh wait, no…that would be our minivan complete with DVD player and 4 car seats. Did I mention we are new to this? I kissed him goodbye as he triumphantly drove into the sunset to retrieve the beginnings of our new, organic, simple country lifestyle.
Shea came back with his feathers ruffled.
Apparently, laying the seats down and shoving parts of a homespun coop in the van is hard enough, throw in 6 distressed larger-than-I-knew-they-got chickens and you get chaos on wheels. Lacking the foresight to throw tarps down beforehand, Shea brushed off my concern as he unloaded his freight while I stared open-mouthed at the carnage that was my van.
You minivan mommies know the deal: the van is not just your mode of transport. It is your office, your ambulance, your kid containment unit, your freedom and your partner in crime. My Odyssey looked more like a mob scene, though tar and feather might smell better than the poo and feather concoction I faced. It took me 3 hours to scrape the frozen turd out of my car. It was even on the DVD player! It would not be the first time I would ask “what have we done?”
So now we have farm fresh eggs every morning. You may ask if it is worth the trouble
when eggs cost 1.88 for a dozen and a half at Sam’s club and you don’t have to clean poo off them (I am seeing how many times I can say poo in one post). But they are a lovely shade of brown, and one lays green. And they are so big, they dwarf the extra-large at the store. (Now I know why hens squawk like they do.) Fresh eggs do taste better, I am nearly positive it is not just in my mind. Also, there is something novel about saying to your six-year-old “hurry and eat your breakfast so you can water the chickens before school.”
The chickens follow me around in the yard. I pretend they are drawn to the purity of my spirit rather than the prospect that I will drop a handful of scraps to them. They love our leftover salad, some granola or oats, sunflower seeds, and once, even the Super Golden Crisp cereal I threw at them as they stared longingly through the window at breakfast. (Yes, I feed dogs people-food under the table, I can’t resist beggars.)
The kids love them. My two-year-old calls them “chee chees.” She loves to chase them, however she is not adept at walking around the little bombs they leave on the sidewalk. She quite often tracks poo into the house. Last week, she smeared in one so big it must have set a chicken record. I am only glad the kids didn’t mistake its size for an egg and put it in the fridge. I was cleaning for a party we were hosting and was shocked to see Zaida’s little foot prints stamped in turd all over my carpet. In my exasperation I used a French word for the excrement and now, whenever company comes, Zaida runs over to excitedly show them the “chee chee shee.”
It’s official, we are country folks. We are acquiring dairy goats next week. Gulp. More adventures to come. But so far, it is great….chee chee shee and all.