Tuesday, April 24, 2012

a day in the life of a chicken farmer

Yesterday.  Well, it started out like any other normal day around here.  Getting kids off to school, then busying myself with household chores while my youngest performed her normal routine of sipping hot chocolate and watching cartoons.  

Looking back, I was a bit discouraged.  Saturday was starred in my planner with "chicks" penciled in.  The 21st.  We had placed the precious cargo under her the first of April, and the books all said "twenty-one days exactly".  {exactly.... exactly.... exactly....}  That word floated in and out of my head throughout the weekend and still plagued me that morning.  The 21st day had come and gone and no sign of their arrival was to be seen. 

Once the routine was out of the way, I made my way out to the coop as I always do and looked under Susan {named after one of my favorite Desperate Housewives characters} as I always do and began inspecting eggs, as I always do.  Immediately I am startled by the vibrations coming from the warm, seemingly lifeless, object in my hand.  And then I see it, and almost immediately hear it.  The convex crack pattern in one tiny spot on the shell and a very audible "peeping" coming from inside.  I quickly place it back under my momma hen and grab for another.  Nothing.  But now there is hope.  For surely I shall get at least one baby amidst the 9 eggs she's sitting upon.
Chick starting to pip.
I close up the nest box and break into a run - a grin plastered to my face.  I run inside and proclaim in Henny Penney fashion "The chicks are hatching!  The chicks are hatching!"  I turn on my heel trying to remember where my cell phone is.  I locate it and dial my husband at work.  He says hello and I begin frantically relaying my find.  He stops me with his panicked tone.  {apparently my excitement came across as "problem"}  Once he was assured that all was well - more than well - he was open to celebrating with me before he had to get back to work.
Another beginning to pip.

I knew I'd be excited, but I had not anticipated being this excited.  Seriously.  I was like those children on the Disney commercials.  Not even exaggerating.

But my excitement soon waned as the process from pip {to create the first opening in the shell} to full hatch took much longer than I had figured.  According to my findings, I calculated it should take just under 2 hours.  Half the day was gone and the hole was only minutely larger than it was in the morning.  It was seriously all I could do not to pick away at the flakes of shell and free the little creature from it's entrapment.  But I resisted.  I tucked myself into bed and tried to forget what might or might not be going on out in the coop. 

This morning, my eyes flew open much earlier than I would normally be able to force them awake.  I tossed and turned hoping to steal a few more minutes.  Curious about what I'd find, but anxious about it as well.  Finally, I decided to face my anxiousness and I slipped on a sweater and pulled on my husbands large muck boots.  I clomped my way across the yard to the coop and carefully opened the door - listening for the tell-tale peeps to tell me the night was a success.  The rest of the flock and their morning chatter did not allow me any preview of what I would find.  Instead, I went inside and carefully lifted Susan.  A smile the size of Texas spread across my face as I saw three still-wet chicks hovering under their momma.   Success.  

Once again, I found myself running to the house to announce the arrival of the babies to my husband, like a midwife coming to the waiting room to tell the family of a child's birth.  Once he was dressed, he came out with me so we could steal a few quick pictures of my new babies.  Success.

We left the chicks to warm and dry and fluff.  Later I would move them into a special suite - a special safe place where they could explore their world free from nosey hens and a bossy rooster.  I found myself thankful that I'd taken so much time with Susan during her broodiness.  She trusted me.  She no longer bristled at my hand.  She knew I would not hurt her or her babies.  That made my soul smile.

I.   Did.   It.

And I managed to get it right the first time.  There was so much negativity in many of the books I read about all the things that could go wrong in the whole intricate process.  But why am I surprised at the success?  I used a rooster and a hen.  Fertile eggs and a hen who was ready to be a momma.  Isn't that how God created it to work?  So why wouldn't it?  
Peeking out from under mom.

Looking back, I was way too anxious about everything.  Like any first-time mom, I worried about problems.  And being someone who likes control, it was hard to surrender that control and let nature take it's course.  Next time I will know to be more patient.  I will know that "exactly" doesn't come into play when God's hand is at work.  I will know that a hatch can take 24-48 hours to complete.  And while I can revel in this confidence I now have, I don't ever want to loose hold of this naive joy that came from the learning process.

And so, if I haven't bored you to tears, this serves as a milestone.  A way for me to capture that joy for all posterity.  And to share it with all of you.

This is one of my favorites.  The little ones were neatly tucked under the momma's wing.  


cafejojo said...

I loved this! I wish we lived closer to see your new little "babies"! Good job Shelly!! <3

Pat said...

Loved loved your story,felt like I was right there with you,Isn't it amazing how God choses to teach us,so cool He is concerned with all the things that make us happy,God is so good!!!

Stephani said...

Awww - they are so cute!! So can I bring the girls out this weekend sometime to see them?

Michelle said...

Absolutely sister!