It’s been my experience that they’d just as soon peck your eyes out like grapes out of a picnic basket. I’ve been pecked, flogged and menaced for years by these foul fowls.
I’m one of those live and let live kind of guys, so instead of wringing their necks and having them for Sunday dinner, I just gave them a wide berth as I kept them fed and watered.
Chickens don’t live forever and we’ve lost them to raccoons, hawks and two were eaten by a neighbor’s dog once when they escaped the pen.
A few weeks ago, I think a hawk swooped down and killed one of the two remaining game hens. That’s when I decided to go chicken shopping.
When I asked Glenn at the Jasper Feed store if he had any baby chicks, he directed me over to a huge box near the side door. As I walked over, I could hear peeps and chirps coming from inside, and when I lifted the lid to have a look, the first thing that came to my mind was “snow sparrows.”
It’s a good thing that they are so cute when they are small, because as they get a little older, they get as ugly as sin, as the preacher used to say.
I brought them home and put them in a small wire cage to protect them from critters until they got big enough to fend for themselves.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen any creatures grow as fast as these little hens. They are eating me out of a house and home.
Now that they’ve almost tripled in size, I’m not keeping them in the smaller cage but letting them run free in the big yard (as the older chickens call it).
I feed them three times a day and in the evening when I go out to put them in the coop to secure them overnight, they peck at my shoes and the stone on my college class ring.
Last night as I was winding down for the evening, I realized I hadn’t put them up for the night. I went out to fasten the coop and did a quick count. I saw only four — Holy Moly!
I hustled back inside for a flashlight, but when I got back, they were all in the coop. I guess one of them had been in stealth mode.
When they were settled in, I walked to the edge of the yard and leaned on the fence to take in the evening.
I could hear thunder in the distance and see low-hanging dark clouds to the south, but above those, I could see cotton white clouds catching light from a sun that was dazzling people on the west coast. And further above, I saw stars twinkling like distant lightening bugs.
The one thing that’s come home to roost (pun intended) is that my life has changed since retirement. When I was jobbed, I was so consumed with statistics, process, innovation, root cause analysis and problem mitigation, that I rarely took the time to treasure the simple gifts offered each day, like baby chicks and evening stars.
This is, in fact, a wonderful life.