On our second night with six baby chicks, we couldn’t hear the TV. “Can you turn down the chickens,” said the Dimple. Peering into their box I found blood down the spine of one of them and the brood kept pecking the same bloody spot like it was pasta carbonara. I believe I squealed.
Tedium was one suggestion for chick bullying on Google – and could end in homicide; Bored To Death! Panicked, we dangled a CD into the box (for pecking), put up some Christmas lights and contemplated Adele for a dance party. All was calm when we went to bed.
By morning all six were alive, huddled together like a feather hat. We left them alone for a few hours and returned to more blood down the spine of the Pecked One. Plus the bitches had been attacking the vulnerable sides of the neck.
I wish I could say I behaved like a sane paramedic at the scene of an accident. There was more squealing.
Bob, who bursts into tears at the sight of blood, was gawking at his squeamish mother. The ‘Dactyl gave a sympathy squeal. I wanted to ignore the horror movie in the box but my children expected me to sort it.
Their coop – which was all ready and waiting for them to get bigger – was the only option but that meant picking UP the flighty, squawky, flappy creatures; something I managed to avoid last year without anybody noticing.
Fear of chickens feels wrong in the woods – it’s not very Mother Natureish and I was seriously lamenting not getting a cat. At least my patting skills are impressive.
I have a confession: we never got the cat. We had the silver-grey one picked out from the shelter but then it was Christmas and then we were going to NZ and then he was gone. At one point I said to the Dimple, ‘But we have to get a cat, I said we already had one on the blog.’ He said some unprintable things about that being the worst reason, ever, to get a pet. So we got more hens; it fits with our off-the-grid, off-the-land (sometimes feels like off-the-planet) lifestyle.
“I’ll get them,” said Bob, when I announced the chicks had to leave their torture box. Swooping, cornering, grabbing them one by one, he was plucky. The boy who hates blood fastened his quick five-year-old hands around the torso of the Pecked One, not in the least phased by the gunky bits of flesh hanging off her back.
His love of chickens was greater than his fear of blood.
In a flash, my love for him was greater than my fear of chickens.
On the day he turned five he was annoying me, jumping on the spare bed as I tried to make it – for family arriving for his party. He dragged the duvet and pillows onto the floor and demanded I play in his hut. “NO!” sprinted out and then I wondered why. Why not join him for a minute?
We rolled ourselves up in the duvet and snored. I farted, he roared. As we snuggled I felt a surge of love for him, tears pricked my eyes. Afterwards, I looked at the clock. 10.37am. Exactly the time Bob was born five years earlier! I was glad I caught it.
Lately, he’s been pushing – making me count down to school – but in that moment it was a delicious pull, yanking me right back to the day we drove home from hospital and looked around wondering who let us leave with a baby. Our boy! How would that tiny thing ever be big enough to handle lofty subjects such as Natural Selection?
Way over here now, at five, he surprises us with what he can cope with emotionally and mentally. He knows last year’s chickens were taken by the woods – when the murderer evacuated us. We can no longer keep his innocence in a bottle; it’s escaped without us noticing.
When it comes to squawky birds, he’s braver than me. Fearless! He’s the teacher and I’m the child. We both held the Pecked One and told her to stand tall, don’t let the mean girls win.
Considering my enthusiasm to see a bear or cougar here, the Dimple thinks my chicken phobia (Alektorophobia) is comical. “Can’t wait to see you extract the eggs once they’re laying.”
Oh ha ha. By then, with some secret training from the five-year-old, I’m planning on not being such a chicken.