A couple of weeks ago I had a genius idea. We were going to raise chickens. We were going to buy some baby chicks for Easter. The kids were going to be small-time farmers and we were never going to buy another egg again. Granted we live in the suburbs of a big city, in a neighborhood with an HOA, and in a community that doesn't allow farm animals within its city limits. But, since when did a few little laws stop us from doing what we wanted. No wonder the kids scoff at my rules. I am such a fine example of obedience. I ordered the chicks online from a local farm, because these days even chicken farmers accept Paypal. Today they were ready for us to pick them up. Scott was not thrilled about the prospect of chicken farming, but he didn't say much to stop us from following through with our plans. Maybe he could foresee just how short our experiment would be. We had a great day at the farm. The weather was warm, the allergies were controllable, and we were on the cusp of making big on our dreams of an Egg Empire.
After playing for a couple of hours. We were ready to take posession of our chicks. Names were quickly given to our four fluffy friends-Flick (as in Chick Flick), Nugget (as in Chicken Nugget), Hot (as in Hot Chick), and Joe Flacco because Nash has a one-track mind. Little did we know how prophetic the names Hot and Nugget would prove to be in just a few short hours. The woman at the farm kept stressing how much the chicks needed a heat lamp, even if we were keeping them indoors. I kept thinking, "I got it! I got it!" But, maybe I should have asked a few more questions. I put our shoebox of baby chickens on the front seat with the seat warmer on high. We made a quick stop at the farm supply store for a heat lamp and some chicken wire before we headed home. The kids were so excited to get to know Flick, Hot, Nugget and Joe. I let them play with them for a couple of minutes when we arrived home. It was love at first hold.
We gently dumped them in a bucket with the heat lamp plugged in above their fuzzy little chicken heads. I gave Nash and Harley explicit instructions to keep them safe from what I assumed would be their greatest threat, the cat. Atley and I headed outside to nail some chicken wire to the kid's playhouse which was going to serve as our brand new chicken coop. We had been outside for about 5 minutes when Nash peeked his head out and said, "The chicks aren't moving too much anymore." My reply, "They are probably just tired and stressed out from their journey. Go protect them!" Two more minutes pass and Nash was back outside. "Mom, I think something is wrong with our chickens." My reply, "Well, maybe unplug the heat lamp. They might be getting too warm." Two minutes later, I hear Scott's truck pull into the garage. I was a little anxious to see/hear his reaction when he saw the baby chicks but nothing could have prepared me for what he said. I could see him approaching the Bucket of Chicken through the kitchen window and I saw him back away from them fairly quickly. He came out the back door and said, "Why do we have a bucket of dead chicks on our kitchen table?" My reply, "Oh, my gosh! Enough. They are not dead. They are just exhausted." Nash's reply, "No, mom. I think they really are dead. They even kind of smell cooked." My reply, (yes, I am great at denial) "Whatever! Bring me the bucket. Their house is almost ready anyway." Nash brought me a bucket of dead chicken and not the Kentucky Fried kind of bucket of dead chicken. The cooked-with-all-their-feathers-under-a-heat-lamp bucket of dead chicken. Actually, that might be the same thing. Anyway, our Egg Empire is history and the kids were only farmers for 15 minutes. They learned a lot about life and death and I learned that heat lamps have various watts for varying conditions.
If you happen by our house and wonder what the little white cross in our back yard represents, it is the burial site of four beloved chickens, who lived hard and died young. Harley has been drawing pictures of them for the past few hours. Assuring us she has to do it now, before she completely forgets what they looked like. It is all rather heartbreaking.