Saturday, January 03, 2015

The twilight of the chickens


I sure do miss that little chicken fancier.
In the last post I wrote about a couple of transitions I see in my near future. There's one more and it's comparatively trivial, but since I'm on a roll here, I'll just finish up and then we can get back to cookbooks and cooking in 2015. 

One night a few weeks ago Owen came in from the yard and said “We really need to get rid of the chickens. It’s so sad, seeing them out there. It’s like seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone in one of their recent action movies. Have you seen those movies? Those guys are pathetic compared to what they used to be.”

It was funny, but his simile didn't quite work. Schwarzenegger and Stallone really have changed. The chickens haven’t. What's changed is Owen’s enthusiasm for them. At fourteen, he'd rather read comic books and play Portal in his cozy room than head out into our cold, mucky, skunk-ridden backyard to take care of a bunch of clucking birds. I can not imagine why.

Isabel and Mark have always disliked the chickens and now Owen has begun nagging me to find a new home for them every time I ask him to do his animal chores. I answer that we can’t in good conscience give our chickens away as they might still harbor red mites (we had an epic infestation last fall), but he nonetheless keeps bringing it up. I suspect he’s hoping I'll get so sick of his hectoring that I'll start doing his animal chores myself. Good luck with that, buddy. From a source of connection and joy between us, in the last month the chickens have become a source of strife.

We got our first batch of chicks six years ago and they've mostly been a wonderful addition to our lives, bringing lots of drama, amusement, beauty, and eggs. I get sad thinking of the yard without hens chattering and pecking and giving themselves ecstatic dust baths on hot afternoons or racing to see what food scraps we’ve brought out for their delectation. But an integral part of the pleasure was sharing it with a sweet, sunny little boy who named the birds, played with them, worried about them, studied their quirks, and, as late as this past fall, spent a hellish weekend with me trying to eradicate billions of red mites from every nook and cranny of their coop. I couldn't have done it alone. I don't want to do it alone.

Now Owen is over chickens. He’s moved on. He’s growing up. I hate that! But I can’t stop this transition any more than I can stop Isabel from leaving home or my grandmother from dying or myself from growing old and gray.

We won't be giving the chickens away, nor will we be leaving them out for the neighborhood bobcat to pick off one by one, as Mark suggested. Owen is going to have to man up and do his chores for a while yet. But when the last of our current flock of seven departs this earth, it will be time for something new.     
getting food for his chickens

32 comments:

  1. Just beautiful. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A friend of mine who lives in Berkeley, got a few chickens, maybe 8-10. She has another house in Lake County and when she'd go to that house, she'd bring the chickens with her in cardboard cat carriers. Finally, she decided to leave them with her aunt way out in the country of Lake County. First, someone kept stealing the eggs. Then a bear broke into the enclosure and killed (and ate, I assume,) some chickens. They fortified the enclosure, I guess not well enough and the bear returned and ate all but one last chicken. I think a lot about that lone chicken, having to witness that massacre. Wonder why that one was spared. Was the bear too full to eat and kill that last one? Or, did it manage to hide really well?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That poor little chicken!
      I worry about the last chicken in our flock. I think about her often. What will it feel like when all the others are gone? Unbearably sad. When we get down to one, I may have to just foist her on someone else and hope she's mite-free.

      Delete
  3. Six years is a nice chunk of time for a hobby or interest that requires as much effort as chickens; I appreciate the stories thus far, and look forward to the new adventures that open up with the next stage of your lives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Six years is good. It feels like longer.

      Delete
  4. You're right, you can't stop it, but it is normal to mourn the loss of your enthusiastic and boon companion. I miss the posts about that little chicken fancier, too. I'm sure your new adventures will be just as engaging, but they will be different. This was a very insightful post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes, insightful and compassionate, traits that Owen is learning by example and will carry through his life, thanks to his mom.

      Delete
    2. It's just the chickens that I have lost interest in. They take so much time and effort to take care of they always end up dying. I've gotten tired of it after all these years.

      Delete
    3. Ouf! Another country heard from. I need to watch what I write.

      Delete
  5. My closest friend has five children. The two youngest girls used to own my lap. Then of course they got older and busy and weren't interested in endless games of patty cake or being rocked and sung to or having their backs scratched or their hair brushed. There were quite a few lonely years there for a doting tante who had to content herself with hearing about their adventures in Europe and their plans for their education.

    Now my friend has three grandchildren, and it all begins again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Grandchildren!!!! I guess that's next. I think I need to borrow my sister's kids more often. Or even just occasionally.

      Delete
    2. My friend is an orthodox Jew, so her girls married very early and had children right away. {And I'm a good bit older than you.} You've got some time yet! before that particular milestone! Phew!

      Delete
  6. Ooh, I was afraid you'd started to feel done with chickens. I understand. The mites probably sapped a lot of your enthusiasm. As you know, I had a cat who peed on the stove for months, and there simply came a point when I wasn't willing to fight for her anymore. I suddenly was able to imagine giving her to a neighbor and felt okay with it. I am currently not thrilled with my hens, because a) they need to be put to bed so early during these short winter days and b) they are not laying. Four out of five are more than three years old and though I didn't want to believe it, hens do stop laying at that age. I absolutely plan to get more pullets, either this spring or next, because I'm not yet done with chickens. But boy, I understand. I sometimes wish I were capable of killing and eating the old girls and getting all-new chicks, but it just isn't in me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not in me either, to get rid of chickens because they're done laying. And you should re-up in the spring-- they're so adorable and wonderful and you'll be back in eggs. I wish it didn't feel over for us, but it does.

      Delete
  7. I recently took in six 5-year-old hens that someone was giving away after interest waned. They have assimilated with my other six just fine, although they don't lay eggs anymore. If you find you must end your chicken husbandry you might be able to find a hobbiest who will take them. Craig's List or a chichen-fancier's club would be your audience for that offer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's the mites that worry me. Our hens still lay, but they had red mites last summer -- bad. The mites come from wild birds and jump to chickens and they got a foothold in our flock and then in the wood of the coop and it was a NIGHTMARE. We got things under control, but did we eradicate every last mite? I'd feel terrible if we sent off a chicken that brought mites to a clean flock.

      Delete
  8. Nothing wrong with showing a young man that he can't walk away from living things because they have become inconvenient. However, older chickens can be very tasty when properly cooked in a slow cooker.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just can't kill the chickens. I'm not against it in principle, but have no heart for it.

      Delete
  9. We just rehomed our (illegal) city chicks to a wonderful little retirement hobby farm. They were four years old and still laying, but watching them in their little run was a little disheartening. Now they have a large coop with other chickens, free range, some goats, and a ROOSTER. Now their broody little selves can find out what they've been missing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PERFECT!!! The broody hens sitting on infertile eggs always make me sad.

      Delete
  10. ray ban sunglasses, http://www.ray-bansunglasses.eu.com/
    michael kors outlet, http://www.michaelkorsoutlets.uk/
    fitflop, http://www.fitflop.in.net/
    swarovski crystal, http://www.swarovskicrystals.co.uk/
    cheap michael kors handbags, http://www.cheapmichaelkorshandbag.in.net/
    the north face outlet store, http://www.thenorthfaceoutletstores.org/
    nike mercurial, http://www.nikemercurial.org/
    michael kors outlet, http://www.michaelkorsoutletusa.net/
    michael kors handbags, http://www.michaelkorshandbags.in.net/
    tory burch outlet, http://www.toryburchoutletonline.in.net/
    jordan shoes, http://www.jordanshoes.us.com/
    wedding dresses, http://www.weddingdressesoutlet.co.uk/
    beats by dr dre, http://www.beatsbydrdre-headphones.us.com/
    thomas sabo uk, http://www.thomassabos.co.uk/
    ray ban, http://www.occhiali-rayban.it/
    oakley outlet, http://www.oakleyoutlet.in.net/
    true religion jeans, http://www.truereligionjeansoutlet.com/
    true religion jeans, http://www.truereligionjeanscanada.com/
    football shirts, http://www.cheapfootballshirt.org.uk/
    oakley sunglasses, http://www.wholesaleoakleysunglasses.us.com/
    louis vuitton, http://www.louisvuitton.in.net/
    michael kors handbags, http://www.michaelkorshandbag.co.uk/
    tory burch outlet, http://www.toryburch.in.net/
    ray ban sunglasses, http://www.raybansunglass.co.uk/
    ray ban sunglasses, http://www.rayban-sunglassess.us.com/
    cheap jordans, http://www.cheapjordanshoes.in.net/
    swarovski jewelry, http://www.swarovski.in.net/
    kobe 9, http://www.kobe9elite.us.com/
    0919maoqiuyun

    ReplyDelete
  11. Kannur University Result 2016 for all course
    Kannur University Admit Card 2016
    Kannur University Hall Ticket 2017
    Kannur University Result 2017
    Kannur University Admit Card 2016
    Kannur University Entrance Date 2016
    Kannur University Degree Allotment
    Kannur University Trial Allotment 2016
    Kannur University Admission 2016
    Kannur University Onlie Admission
    Kannur University Distance Education Result 2016
    Kannur University Hall Ticket 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University BA Result 2016-2017
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Hall Ticket 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Result 2016 for all course
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Admit Card 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Hall Ticket 2017
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Result 2017
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Admit Card 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Entrance Date 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Degree Allotment
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Trial Allotment 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Admission 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Onlie Admission
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Distance Education Result 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Hall Ticket 2016
    Karnatak State Open University BA Result 2016-2017
    Karnatak State Open University Hall Ticket 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Result 2016 for all course
    Karnatak State Open University Admit Card 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Hall Ticket 2017
    Karnatak State Open University Result 2017
    Karnatak State Open University Admit Card 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Entrance Date 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Degree Allotment
    Karnatak State Open University Trial Allotment 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Admission 2016

    ReplyDelete
  12. Karnatak State Open University Onlie Admission
    Karnatak State Open University Distance Education Result 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Hall Ticket 2016
    Andhara University BA Result 2016-2017
    Andhara University Hall Ticket 2016
    Andhara University Result 2016 for all course
    Andhara University Admit Card 2016
    Andhara University Hall Ticket 2017
    Andhara University Result 2017
    Andhara University Admit Card 2016
    Andhara University Entrance Date 2016
    Andhara University Degree Allotment
    Andhara University Trial Allotment 2016
    Andhara University Admission 2016
    Andhara University Onlie Admission
    Andhara University Distance Education Result 2016
    Andhara University Hall Ticket 2016
    Symbiosis University BA Result 2016-2017
    Symbiosis University Hall Ticket 2016
    Symbiosis University Result 2016 for all course
    Symbiosis University Admit Card 2016
    Symbiosis University Hall Ticket 2017
    Symbiosis University Result 2017
    Symbiosis University Admit Card 2016
    Symbiosis University Entrance Date 2016
    Symbiosis University Degree Allotment
    Symbiosis University Trial Allotment 2016
    Symbiosis University Admission 2016
    Symbiosis University Onlie Admission
    Symbiosis University Distance Education Result 2016
    Symbiosis University Hall Ticket 2016
    IBS Hydrabad BA Result 2016-2017
    IBS Hydrabad Hall Ticket 2016
    IBS Hydrabad Result 2016 for all course
    IBS Hydrabad Admit Card 2016
    IBS Hydrabad Hall Ticket 2017
    IBS Hydrabad Result 2017
    IBS Hydrabad Admit Card 2016
    IBS Hydrabad Entrance Date 2016
    IBS Hydrabad Degree Allotment

    ReplyDelete