We’d been invited to lunch at a lovely club by a lovely couple we barely knew. Hoping to make a good impression, I was actually wearing shoes that weren’t flip flops or sneakers.
Nice try. But no.
Because as we entered the stately dining room to greet our hosts, a voice rang out from across the room.
“Oh hi there! I know you! You’re the chicken lady!”
So much for first impressions.
It turned out to be someone from our neighborhood, to whom I’d been identified by someone else in the neighborhood as “the neighborhood chicken lady”.
She had a question about a problem hen. “Is it a Rhode Island Red?” I asked, hoping to cut to the chase and change the subject (as well as my persona).
“It is! How did you know?”
Well, it’s almost always a Rhode Island Red so it was a lucky guess. By this point, though, there was no hope of convincing anyone I was anything but a chicken lady. Oh well, at least I didn’t have pine shavings on my shirt. Or did I?
These last few weeks, things have been more than ever about chickens, since broody Willa bailed on her chance for motherhood and her two would-be babies have been consigned to growing up motherless in a cardboard box. Life can be cruel.
How it started:
How it’s going:
At least they have names now! Granddaughter Caleigh has christened them Peggy (left) and Beauty (right) and I think those names fit them perfectly! They are three and a half weeks old now and as you can see, they are feathering out, even sprouting tail feathers, and Beauty’s comb is coming in. Regrettably, they are rapidly departing the “cute chick” stage and entering the “adolescent vulture” stage.
I was showing them off to a friend when they were still fluff balls and she was warming ever so slightly to the concept of a miniature dinosaur with feathers when I spied – oh no – could it be? Was that a crusty dried bit in the nether parts? I held the chick aloft and pronounced the dire news aloud. “Pasty butt,” I confided.
My friend took two steps back and flattened herself against the wall, instantly and deeply regretting that she had actually touched something that could have “pasty butt”. I was so busy dousing the cheeping chick’s derriere in warm water and scrubbing away – pasty butt must be dealt with straightaway or the consequences can be dire – that I had not noticed how pale my friend had become.
“Oh dear, I’m so sorry”, I said, realizing that not everyone wants to be in the barnyard sorority. I’d done it again. The inner chicken lady simply cannot be contained.
A murmur of protest here, though. There are people, many people, whose proclaimed adoration for their dogs over their affinity for humans is considered perfectly acceptable and even reasonable. Cat people – well, okay, they get an eye roll but still, they’re within the bell curve.
But chicken ladies? No respect whatsoever. I can just imagine the conversations. “Oh yes, I know her.” Pause. Sotto voce: “She’s the one who has chickens.”
Even the CE is getting a little edgy about the vultures in the cardboard box shanty. Yesterday he decided to shake things up and set the little ones up in the big chicken pen for the day. Time for the big hens to reckon with their imminent roommates.
Bella was like, “Wait. What?” Here she was, an actual chicken, but giving off the distinct sense that she is not a chicken lady.
“I’ve got my eye on you!” she seems to be saying:
No one will be happier than me when the day comes that these littles make their transition into the flock but I must confess, it has been a sweet time raising them, pasty butt and all. They hate being held – the giant’s hand descending from above to snatch them up – but I can’t help myself. They are irresistible to me and I am compelled to stroke their feathery little heads and croon their new names to them. “Hi Peggy! Hi Beauty!”
I realize the CE and I are poor substitutes for a feathery mother hen, but the chicks are thriving nonetheless. One moment they are chattering away at one another, the next they are cuddling together, all fluffed out for a morning nap. Sweet little things.
Honestly, I had once envisioned a life of pearls and soirées. Instead I find myself festooned with pine shavings (and worse…). I guess, in the end, our destinies choose us. And there’s just no getting around it: these are my peeps.