Saturday, February 6, 2010

Chicken or the Egg?

Today Hubby is home.  Apparently, he decided to take this week off to work around the house, kind of like a vacation, but not really.  It was an unexpected surprise.  I love having him home during the day.  Unfortunately, I never get anything done when he is home.  I tend to help him do what he needs to do and take care of the kids. 

However, there was a moment so rare that I was lost in it. I was alone, with no worries of children.  There was no open ear listening for crying, no open eye watching for unforeseen dangers.  I walked my child to the bus stop and kissed him good-bye.  On the way back to the house, I stopped to see if there were any eggs yet this morning.  There were not.  Later, after helping Hubby in the shed for a brief moment, I decided to check again. 

The wind had picked up a bit by then and the crisp air felt good in my hair.  I stood watching the hens.  There were now three eggs.  I had a feeling that one of the smaller ones was ready to lay.  She was nesting in the corner by herself.  My transgendered chicken was dusting him/herself.  I call it transgendered because she was a hen.  In fact, she was a very popular hen.  She was the one that was fought over and mounted repeatedly.  Yet, four days ago, she began to crow.  Now, I suppose she is a he.  He doesn't have the claw that the others have.  I'm sure that it has some fancy name, but they are like daggers that sometimes rip right through a hens side. He is lacking those.  When on of the other roosters tried to mount his favorite girl, she/he turned and attacked.  She flew at him feet first and won.  He is establishing himself among the men and doing quite well.  This is probably because he is twice the size of the others, yet he is still very much a gentleman.  Between my new found rooster and my largest hen, they keep the rest of the girls safe.  If a rooster digs in enough for a hen to squawk, well that roo gets pecked and plucked pretty good.

When this new rooster was dusting, he was very close to those three eggs and burying them easily with all the dirt flying.  My largest hen ran to sit on the eggs when she saw what was happening.  She sat on them, none of which were hers, until the dusting stopped.  She got flapped on and kicked and rolled on, but still she defended the young and did not once complain.  She never moved.  After the dusting, two more hens accompanied her.  On squished her against the fence and the other sat on her, still she did not move.  Finally when they all flapped each other crazy, they all scattered and what did I see?  Three more eggs. 

I found it weirdly intoxicating, watching the chickens for so long.  It was only about ten minutes, but I never have ten minutes to do nothing but watch chickens.  They all have their personalities and they all have their place.  My two larges are hens.  They are the most gentle of any chickens.  These are the ones that protect the girls from the boys and the unborn from accidental loss.  The tiniest one is the most beautiful and she is my escape artist.  She digs out and the next smallest squeezes out after her.  The second one runs until the kids no longer chase, then she waits at the pen door.  It's funny, I never chase her and she doesn't run for me.  The smallest rooster apparently has the biggest set.  He is bold and defends his flock with all he's got.  he's only about the size of a football, but boy does he have a Napoleon complex.  That's alright though, the other roosters let him know just how low on the totem pole he is. 

These chickens get over their spats in a split second.  They protect the children, whose ever they may be, with their lives.  They protect each other from danger.  They argue, they fight, they snuggle and they teach each other.  They are a family.  Though none are actually related, they are a family.

My chickens gave me much more than eggs today.  Today, I had a moment of peace, partly because Hubby was home to watch the kids, but mostly because I was enthralled by their intimacy and the intricacies of their relationships.  It was like watching a soap opera.  It was mesmerizing, truly.  And I feel like a complete freak for even saying that out loud.  Yet, it is true. 

My favorite part is that I got to see three different hens lay an egg.  Each one completely different from the last.  I even got a pink egg.  Who knew that could happen.  I will consider this lovely pink egg and early Valentine's gift.  Maybe I could sneak away for a few minutes every day Hubby is home.  Maybe I shouldn't or I might be tempted to hatch some of these eggs.  Lord knows they are fertilized.

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