At the end of last week, I was worrying about whether to bring my chicks home a few days shy of two weeks, and risk exposing them to Marek’s disease (the vaccine needs two weeks to be effective) or to leave them at my parents’ house for another week, since I can only get out there on the weekends. What I ended up doing was leaving them at my parents’ house for another two weeks, since at that point I was bringing my son out to stay with them for a week. I didn’t want to be making a trip out there every weekend for a month, as much as it pained me to not get to hang out with the chicks at their cutest. But I could at least rest easy that they would be safe from Marek’s.
When I did finally get out to see them, they had gotten pretty big. They weren’t babies anymore, they were more like teenagers. Teenagers in their weird, awkward stages. Some of their real feathers were coming in, and their necks were getting long. They weren’t the little fuzzballs they were when they arrived, but it’s not like they were hideous monsters or anything. I was just happy to have them.
Portrait of the artist as a young chicken.
My mom had really become fond of the little brown ones, which were Speckled Sussexes, the breed I had ordered at the last minute to make the minimum order. My father, who all through this had been complaining about not wanting chickens, was especially attached to the smallest of these. Of course, at this age, they grow fast, so the small one one day might not be the small one the next day. However, it was still important that they got to keep the small one. I decided they could have two Speckled Sussexes, and I would get one. They could then have one Silver Laced Wyandotte, and I would get two. That part was easy. The hard part was figuring out which one was the “small one,” and making sure I didn’t take her, which would break my father’s chicken-hating heart.
My mother stood over the box and grabbed the first “brown one” she could get. “I think this is it,” she said, looking the chicken in the eye.
I looked at the ones in the box. “I think that one is smaller,” I said, pointing at one in the box.
“I think you’re right,” she said, and put the first one down, and grabbed another.
“Wait,” I said. “I think that one is definitely bigger than the other one.” Then I grabbed one. We compared them. They seemed about the same. Then we looked at the one left in the box. It seemed small. “Is that the one?” I asked my father, motioning towards the box.
“Yeah, maybe, I think,” he said.
So many rules.
I ended up taking one of the ones we were holding, and two of the Wyandottes. I picked the Wyandottes at random, since my father had no allegiances to them. I put them in a box to transport them back to our house, and it seemed like we were more or less ready to go.
My father, in spite of the scene we had just created involving his favorite chicken, was still putting up a front like he wasn’t happy about having the chickens, but cracks were beginning to appear in the façade. “I don’t know, the chickens are cool,” he said, “but I don’t know why your mother wants to do this.”
“Well, you did decide to name them the Andrews Sisters,” I said. “It’s not like you’re totally not enjoying it.”
“No, I changed my mind,” he said. “Now I want to name them Britney, Madonna, and Cher.”
Meanwhile, my mother wants to call them Gladys Knight and the Pips. I would point out that Gladys Knight and the Peeps might be funnier, but even though I kind of created this situation, I’m not sure I want to be involved.
They did make it home safely, in case you were wondering.
(CREDITS: Theme music: Chicken In The Barnyard by Fireproof Babies, Music Bed: Cacliz March by Athenian Mandolin Quartet)