As I was driving with my carpool peeps to bell choir rehearsal the other night, my friend Marie, said, “Paige, how do you keep so upbeat all the time?” I laughed and said, “I do a lot of yelling at home.” And then I laughed some more and tried to explain. The yelling is not HOW I stay upbeat. I was just trying to explain that I’m NOT upbeat all the time. Not by a long shot. It made her feel better to hear that I do my share of yelling.
And let me assure you, I’m far from upbeat right now.
Yesterday I subbed for a junior high German teacher. The German part was fun, but the subbing part was ok, but still exhausting. I wasn’t here when the kids came home from school, and that was a day when I really should have been home. As I drove up, I knew something was wrong. There were a lot of white feathers all over in the front yard, and even out into the street. Not a good sign. I pulled into the garage and was met by texts from Natalie on my phone as well as a couple of crying kids.
Something had attacked the chickens. Two were found dead close to their run, one was missing, and one had been found in a window well. Somehow all of them had gotten out of the pen and something had attacked them. But who would let them out? And who lets their dog run wild into other people’s yards and lets it attack innocent chickens? Had one of the kids left the door open in the morning? They assure me that they didn’t. Did some neighbor kid come over in the morning and open the door? Did some malicious person purposely let them out? They can’t open the door themselves. I had to deal with the sad and crying kids, and take care of the dead chickens. “Why did the dog attack OUR chickens?” John said, “Why don’t they attack those chickens that we saw on the side of the road?” It’s difficult to comfort a sad child who doesn’t understand why when you do not understand the why yourself. No time for my own sadness. We disposed of the bodies and went looking for the other chicken. We didn’t see brown feathers so we had hope that she had gotten away. Maybe she would come back when it got dark. Sadly, I soon found her body, too. In the neighbor’s yard. I hurried and cleaned that up before their kids came out and witnessed the carnage, as well.
As the older kids came home, they already had heard the news, thanks to the texting skills of their sister. Megan was extremely upset and crying, and I had to start a new round of comforting my children.
Was this chicken thing a mistake? Should we not have named them, treated them like loved pets? Should we not be so concerned with their comfort and just consider them ‘farm animals’ and not pets?
I had one chicken left. One sad and lonely chicken who had witnessed the attack of her friends, and she had barely managed to escape. And now she’s alone. I called my friend who I consider an expert on chickens, and asked if I could borrow one of her older chickens. She had recently told me that she needed to get new younger chickens because hers were getting older, not laying, and she was considering giving them to another neighbor. If she was going to get rid of them anyway, would she mind lending one to me so that my poor little Gabby wouldn’t have to be alone. She readily agreed. John and his friend, Tucker, picked a chicken out from their chickens, and brought it over.
What a friend to give up one of her chickens for me! I asked Tucker what the chicken’s name was, and he said she didn’t have a name. John named her Thunder. She looks pretty mangy right now. I guess she’s molting, but my friend assures me that this is one of her nicest chickens. So far the two chickens are NOT acting like friends, and I am still worried about both of them.
Soon it was dinner time and I had nothing made. Kids had to go to soccer and volleyball and I had to go to an orientation meeting about our upcoming Japanese student. Throw something in the oven and get going.
By the time I got home from the meeting, I was spent. It had been a very long day. A day of sadness, and I hadn’t yet had the chance to cry. Instead of crying, I decided I needed to laugh, so I pulled Ryan into the family room to eat a Magnum bar that I had in the freezer for a time such as this, and we watched Modern Family.
Yum. And the laugh was good, too.
Exhausted, I hauled myself up to bed, hoping I could get a good night’s sleep this time. I hadn’t slept well the night before. I was a little worried about waking up in time to get to the sub job, and I got home late from bell choir rehearsal. I slept for an hour or two, then woke up. Worry, anxious about the chickens, and sad. Not the restful night I had needed.
While I was a little relieved to see both chickens out there, it still made me sad to think about them. And I can’t stop thinking about their dead little chicken bodies and remembering scooping them up to dispose of them. But life must go on, and I had to get myself ready and the kids ready for the day. Kindergarten this time, and thankfully, only half day. I can do anything for half a day, right?
It still doesn’t make any sense.
One of my neighbors, a dog owner, said she saw the feathers when she walked by with her dog at about noon, and wondered if we had caught the culprit on our porch cam. She said she hopes it wasn’t her dog, and to please tell her if it was. Unfortunately, our porch cam doesn’t isn’t hooked up to record everything that happens when we aren’t there right now, and it’s only in the front of the house. There is no chicken cam, although maybe we need one. The only clue would be if her dog had a mouthful of feathers. And would I really want to know? If I knew who’s dog it was, would I say something to the owner? What can they do to make it right? Buy me new chickens? Maybe. Keep their dog in their own yard? Maybe. Maybe not. But would it cause bad feelings between me and my neighbors? I don’t want to hate all the neighborhood dogs. And I don’t want to hate my neighbors because they have dogs that they don’t keep contained in their own yards. But right now, to be honest, I kind of do.
I know they are just chickens. It’s not like a member of my family was injured or something. I’m trying to convince myself that I am overreacting and need to not let it make me so sad. I’m working on it. I am also wondering if I can handle being a chicken owner. This will probably happen again sometime. There will always be dogs. Sigh.
So to Henrietta, Pirate and Carmel, we will miss you. You were good little chickens. We loved you. The kids know that you are happy in chicken heaven.