Thursday, June 27, 2013

Blogs, Beginnings, and Barnyard Birds...

As I contemplate the inaugural entry in my newest blog, it's tempting to feel obligated. You know, obligated to say something so brilliant, so memorable and edifying, so...well, "splashy". Problem is, I'm enduring a summer cold amidst a scorching, Rocky Mountain heatwave, and I also happen to be in the middle of a whole slew of fresh starts in my life...I'd be lying if I denied I'm a little cranky today. Single motherhood, recovery from years of chronic illness and disability, massive career changes and re-entry into academia have all required me to reboot on every conceivable level. Emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, even digestively, for pity's sake. You get the picture. But it's okay. In fact, recently it's graduated to being good. Life may not be 'easy', but it's getting easier in parts as I discover who I am for the first cliche as those words may sound, they are among the truest I've ever spoken. So the question before me is not one of which level of brilliance or entertainment value I can offer readers, but "Where do I begin?" Now that I've asked that, it gets easier. Where does any intelligent, complex, red-blooded American woman in her high-altitude 40's begin expressing her innermost trepidation, angst, and burgeoning sense of self? Chickens. She starts with chickens. Of course. As I share snippets and snapshots of my new life, you will no doubt meet all three of my sons along the way, and probably my two male dogs in short order as well. And the chinchilla. But first, you will meet the four feathered femme fatales with whom I share a bit of estrogen-based backyard bonding. Starting with the grand dames, Snowflake and Slippers:
Snowflake, our Rhode Island White, calls out first thing in the morning when she knows I'm up. She also raises quite the fuss at any time during the day when I come back home from being gone, and refuses to quiet down until I pick her up and cuddle and talk to her. Yes, that's right...I have a chicken that thinks she's a dog.
Slippers, our White Cochin. This is the most docile hen we could have hoped for, which sadly ended up costing her all her beautiful tail feathers to Strawberry, a Black-laced Wyandotte and the hen equivalent to Cinderella's evil stepsister. So two weeks ago Strawberry was 'reallocated' to a friend's farm to experience Pecking Order Purgatory for herself. Slippers is finally getting her tail feathers back, but slowly, and only after a lot of Neosporin and baths in the kitchen sink. Uh, yeah....don't ask.
Snowflake voices her opinion as AJ heads in to collect the morning's eggs from the nest boxes. She's got good intentions and is basically harmless, but as the Queen of the Coop, she likes to make it known she's Top Hen. Regularly. I'm pretty sure she was an eldest child.
Egg-gathering success!

Next, you'll meet our two littlest girls, Rose and Lily. They are harder to photograph because Slippers (who immediately adopted them when we introduced them as chicks) spends most of the time trying to sit on them. This is especially funny considering they are nearly full-grown. You can see what we're up against...poultry with personality. But we love them, and visiting them each morning is a source of delight for AJ, my 7 year-old. There's something immeasurably valuable in being the "big helper", and taking care of creatures that not only provide something from which our family benefits (yummy organic eggs!), but that also have needs he can help to meet. I'm sure you'll agree from these photos that between his penchant for gentle assurances as he collects the eggs, and the Wall-e underwear and ex-church loafers turned coop-clomping shoes, my little Chicken Whisperer is the consummate professional. :)

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