There is nothing that gets a Farm Wife excited more than new life. When it happens in the kitchen, it is even better – I don’t have to slog through the mud to watch.
As usual these days, I was rushing around Monday morning, trying to get ready to leave for work. It was first Monday, which means Council Meeting at the Village. I was running late because I couldn’t find my cell phone. As I passed through the kitchen, I heard this tiny little sound that stopped me in my tracks. I turned and slowly made my way over to the stainless steel table. I lifted the lid on a box that sat there, and sure enough, I heard it again. The soft tweet of a chick. I searched the eggs to see if one was cracked, but none were. I double checked the calendar, and sure enough, we were about to enjoy the arrival of an Early Bird. Chickens take twenty-one days to hatch, and their due date is next Wednesday, on the 10th. Still, I knew that shortly, we’d be seeing a new ball of fluff. Even better, my daughter Sarah and granddaughter Ava were visiting, and I was excited that she would get to see a baby chick hatch. I gently set the lid on the incubator back in place, then hurried off to work, lamenting the fact that I wouldn’t be home to watch.
During a phone call, I told Randy what had happened, and asked him to keep an eye on things. There are times when a new chick is trying to peck his way out of a shell, but he gets stuck and can’t fully emerge. We know the rules – we aren’t supposed to help. Chicks are a little like butterflies breaking out of its cocoon. To help them means to kill them. They need the difficult work of breaking out to give them strength. But with chickens, if you are very careful, and if there is a real problem, you can gently help to loosen the shell a bit, and then put them back down to finish the job on their own. And then there is the occasion where they succeed, but a little bit of shell is stuck on their heads like a hat, or on their wings or back. After a day or two, we will remove it using a dab of warm water to loosen the ‘glue’ that adheres it to the feathers.
Just my luck. The new chick didn’t arrive until Tuesday, while I was at my other job in Shreveport. Due to a staff meeting, I didn’t arrive home until late, but as I walked through the door, Randy and Sarah were grinning. ‘Come look!’ And lo and behold, there was a little yellow ball of fluff sitting in the box. You know I just had to open it and play with the new baby. They are just too soft to resist. And I will be playing with it this morning, as I relocate it to a second box and teach it to eat and drink. From this point on, I will be watching closely for the others to begin the work of new birth. This may take a while, because they aren’t scheduled to start hatching for another eight days, but that’s okay. I can teach this one how to survive, and then he (or she) in turn will help me teach the others.
What is really going to be fun is that there are also two duck eggs in the incubator. Ducks take twenty-eight days to hatch, and when they do, they are larger than a newborn chick. If all the chicken eggs hatch no later than Wednesday, then the chicks will be sturdy enough to handle the size of their adopted other-species siblings when they finally arrive.
No matter how hard your day is, regardless of the frustrations and setbacks you experience, you can always find something that will make you smile at the end of the day. I don’t always get to watch chicks and ducklings hatch, but I can still step outside and watch a beautiful sunset, or watch calves play in the pasture. I can revel in seeing cats run up to greet me, or enjoy the unexpected visit of a turtle crossing the yard. It’s the little things on the farm that can bring a smile to your face and lift your heart all the way up to Heaven, filled with the helium effect of pure joy. And for some reason, these two difficult days I spent trying to juggle the workload at two different jobs just doesn’t seem quite as bad now.
What brings you simple joy? If you don’t know, then take the time to step outside in the evening and look up. Take a walk outside during the day and look around. Stop for a minute and watch a child play. And if that doesn’t work, then head on over to Paradise. We’ll let you watch the chicks hatch, and will even let you hold one just a minute or two after it’s born. Trust me. There is just nothing better.