I was talking with my friend Jodie earlier this week, telling her about our little chicks. Jodie grew up on a farm, and in recent years, she and her family moved back to her hometown, where they live just down the street from her parents, who are still farming, and who we all lovingly call Papa Joe and Grandma Go. She is also close to her brother and sister, who both live in the same town with their growing families. We have made numerous visits to the farm, and we are lucky to have this country life so available to us, only a 90 mile drive away. It has helped us be more at peace with our continued city life, to have these country options available to us (this, and the frequent visits to my parents' house in Tennessee).
Jodie listened and laughed along with me as we discussed our recent adventure into chicken farming. She knows a lot about chicken farming. Papa Joe began a chicken business a number of years ago, as a supplement to his other farming life. He raises chickens for both eggs and meat, which he sells at the farmer's market in their small but bustling town. He has a wonderful, big healthy flock—they are fed organic feed, allowed free range of the farm and live good lives—but there has never been any question that these birds are destined for either laying or eating. All the grandchildren assist in the care of the chickens, feeding, gathering eggs.
In recent years, Papa Joe added turkeys to the flock, but there was never any question of their purpose either. He named one Thanksgiving and the other one Christmas.
When I told Jodie that our chicks are currently living in our apartment, she just burst out laughing. She was so tickled by this idea and could not help her reaction. I can imagine the reaction of Papa Joe if she mentions our current living arrangements.
But oh, it has been so wonderful to have these little babies right here in our house while they are growing up. And they are definitely growing up. Fast. I know people always use the expression, "don't blink or you'll miss it" about childhood. And I can concur with these sentiments, having recently observed that my children seem to be growing in their sleep, that their feet are visibly bigger from one day to the next.
But that cannot even compare with the chickens, who seem to grow bigger within minutes. I will say good morning to the chickens. I will pet the head of Trickster, who still has a fluffy head, thankfully, so she seems just a little bit more like a chick than a chicken. And then I will notice that they have kicked a bunch of litter in their waterer, so that there is practically no water left. I will clean it out and fill it up, and when I go to put it back in the box, I will notice that Trickster has sprouted another feather in the meantime. Topsy Turvy already looks like a full grown chicken—she is clucking! I half expected to find an egg there this morning.
They all have such unique personalities, and it has been fun to be able to tell them apart so clearly from the beginning, to notice that those personalities have remained remarkably true. Skittle is still skittish, Topsy Turvy is still big and dominant. Glo is still gentle and sweet. Blackie is still indifferent but approachable. Junior is still the hardest to categorize. Trickster is still the friendliest, most curious and most daring.
The boys like to put them in a push cart we got for Otto when he was just learning to walk. It is a wooden cart that looks kind of like a stroller, and Otto hardly used it. I had recently pulled it out of a closet with the intention of selling it. But the boys immediately found a better use for it. And I must confess, it's really fun to watch it used this way. Max likes to sneak a chick out and take her on a tour of the house, usually wrapping her in a bit of cloth, in case she might get the urge to poop while she is on her tour. We all like to let them out of the brooder to explore the back porch, then make their way into the kitchen, stopping to admire their reflections in the trash can.
It will be strange to actually put them in the coop in a couple of weeks. It has been so easy caring for them while they are right here. It is so easy to check on their food, their water, their grit. If it gets a bit chilly in the apartment, we know that it also might be getting a bit chilly for the chicks. We can raise and lower the lamp in the middle of the night, while wearing our pajamas. And we can pull them out of the coop many times a day, for a brief play period. To feed them treats. To get to know them. It has been ideal for us.
And I think I'll kind of miss hearing their pecking in the middle of the night, as they poke the side of their brooder box, and I imagine they are trying to tunnel their way out of the box and come visit us in the bedroom.
But it will be another wonderful adventure. I guess the same thing will happen with the boys someday. They will move out of our cozy apartment and into apartments of their own. But luckily, that still seems like a long way away. Chickens definitely grow up faster than boys. But I still don't want to blink.