Monday, May 30, 2011

Mnding the Chickens

This Memorial Day weekend, everyone has been off at various cabins except me and Steve, so we had the WHOLE 80 acre farm to ourselves. We gardened, ate well, had coffee on the porch and even took a dip in the pond. This is exactly what we would have done if people had been here, but it still felt different somehow.

Of course, church was half-empty, lots of people leave town, so the whole town felt quiet.

My job was to take care of the chickens, and can I just say, I LOVE chickens! Each morning when I made my way out there (this morning in pajamas), the ladies were standing in their sun room clucking and squawking low, waiting for me to open the door. All seven of them file out together and get quiet. They make their way in a group down onto the commons and begin looking for grubs and stuff.

It was much harder to remember to go out at night and shut the door to the coop. It doesn't get dark until 9 p.m., and by then I was just not thinking about chickens. Last night we got home from a party around 9:30, and a little after 10 I turned on PBS, which was showing some kind of "best of" Laugh-In. They made the rounds of one-liners with various characters, and then Goldie Hawn came on and started by saying, "Who is taking care of the chickens? I mean, who watches out for the chickens? People are always telling jokes about them. Why did the chicken cross the road?..." then Colonel Sanders appeared and said something about how much he loves chickens, then someone else, then back to Goldie-- you get the idea.

Of course, by then I had my shoes and sweater on and was heading out the door. Who was taking care of the chickens indeed!! I'd completely forgotten!

It was a beautiful, dark night. It had been cold and windy during the day, but now it was already warming up (today it was 85). It smelled rich and green and the air was a little heavy. The grass is saturated, so I took the long way around the driveway and out to the chicken barn. As it is every night, all was quiet. I trusted they were inside, because they always are, and closed and latched the door.

The chickens come home to roost. Every evening, they go and take their places, lay an egg, and quietly sit on it. I suppose they sleep, too.

The contrast between the morning and the evening is quite beautiful. The ease of care and the reliability of chicken behavior is comforting. Latching the chicken coop, you really can feel like all is right with the world.

Three days and 18 eggs later, my duties are up. I do think I understand why so many people in this area are so well-tempered and steady. It's easy to see how they could have grown to love hard work and living simply. They grew up minding chickens.

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