Fine Feathered Friends

My oldest daughter Brynna and the childhood version of myself have many similarities.  Brynna is hilarious delivering impromptu impersonations and one-liners, has a love-it-wear-it mentality when it comes to fashion, writes or draws in her spare time, talks incessantly, and adores animals. She’s a regular chip off the old block!  My parents were kind enough to affirm my sometimes quirky personality and foster my passions, especially when it came to animals.  They allowed me to have numerous dogs, cats, parakeets, finches, rabbits, sheep, turtles, chickens, and a goat. Now granted, I didn’t have these all at one time, but any time a parent allows a child to have a pet it requires sacrifice of funds or time on their part. I realize this now.  Treasuring what my parents lovingly did for me and thinking they were more than a bit insane, I try to follow their example. As it stands now in our house we have three dogs (one of which is a stray still looking for a home 3 months after finding him), a turtle, and a rabbit, but we have had fish, rats, lizards, and snakes too. Brynna recently approached me about extending our family and asked if she would be allowed to get chickens. She wanted to raise them for eggs and after extensive reading about training chickens she wanted to teach them to do tricks too. Although I was wearing my best poker face, as to not give away my position on the subject, I can’t describe to you the excitement that welled up inside of me.  As a young girl I had a special affinity for a chicken, an affection for a pet chanticleer. If this were a movie, right now you’d see Brynna leaning against the counter batting her eyes in an effort to sway my decision, me standing in the kitchen with my head tilted up and a distant look on my face, haphazardly drying my hands on a damp dish towel, and the fuzzy white memory bubble appearing right in line with my gaze…

I was raised in a rural area and I had no neighbors my own age to play with, to compensate for the lack of companionship, animals were my surrogate friends. We had a flock of hens and roosters when I was very young, but none of them connected with me the way a young Leghorn rooster named Cutie Pie did.  I don’t remember how I obtained the cockerel, but he was young and I filled his need for a mother hen and he mine for a best friend.  If I was home, that chicken was with me, often in my arms being carried around like  a baby doll ontomy adventures.  One of the most cherished things I would do with Cutie Pie was to play my favorite pretend game,”Army.”  This consisted of me painting my face green with my mom’s eyeshadow, dressing in the camouflage outfit I had gotten from the Easter Bunny, placing Cutie Pie on the back porch to give myself a head start, and then I would take off running at full-speed.  I would sprint into the woods behind our house and hide under bushes and brush in an attempt to hide from my “enemy.”  There I would wait, lying on my belly on the ground, holding my breath, waiting to see if he could find me.  Within minutes of taking cover he would bound onto the scene, as fast as a chicken can run, jumping sticks, looking for any sign of me.  Once he slowed he would become vocal, cocking his head from side to side, and sure enough that chicken would find me faster than any  bloodhound.  As perfect as Cutie Pie was for me, he had a serious fault.  His loyalty was only for me and he could tolerate no one else in his world.  He would attack our friends when they would come to visit, especially those carrying pocketbooks.  It was something that could be overlooked for a while, since we didn’t have many visitors come to our neck of the woods.  I would ward off his aggression by picking Cutie Pie up or walking with our guests to keep him from them.  Gradually he began to turn on my siblings and parents, they told me something had to be done.  My parents contacted one of our friends who had a farm about 5 miles away.  They agreed to take my combative male, giving him the run of the farm and a flock of hens to keep in line.  I was relieved he wouldn’t be on someone’s dinner table, but was heartbroken over my loss none-the-less.  We took my Cutie Pie and dropped him off at his new residence.  With a gigantic barn, pastures, and lots of dairy cows, surely it had to be any chicken’s dream home. I made plans to visit Cutie Pie, but within days of his arrival he hatched a plan of escape and ran away.  I wanted to believe he was running to find me. Maybe his little chicken mind thought it was just another game of Army.   I  expected that one day I would be in my yard playing, there in the distance would my beautiful white bird with his noble red comb leaping obstacles to get to me.  Alas, it never happened…

This is where the bubble disappears and I wipe a tear from my eye.  While keeping my composure, I told her that I would talk with her father, but it would mean a lot of work to get the yard chicken-ready and I didn’t know if we could get the money together for a coop.  However, in my head I’m knowing this is going to happen even if I have to build the coop my dang self and sell half my possessions on ebay.  Brian, as I expected, was a bit more reluctant than I about adding to our menagerie and the work it would mean for us parents.  Neither one of us are chicken virgins, his family raised them too.  We realized there was work involved, but now that we are re-evaluating how and what we eat, he eventually agreed...or maybe I just took his silence to mean yes.  Either way, Brynna is expecting the arrival of 15 fuzzy baby chicks this Friday.  She is so excited. I’m excited too.  I can’t wait to hold a chicken in my arms again, hear their peeps and clucks,  and even more so to see the relationships my children are going to make with their own feathered friends.

Here is a picture my sister Karen took of Cutie Pie and me in 1987 (age 11).

Also I’m on Twitter tweeting, soon to be clucking, about life, kids, food, and chickens.  lifeXthehandful


One thought on “Fine Feathered Friends

  1. Pingback: Life and Death

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