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  • Last modified 82 days ago (Aug. 31, 2017)

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Another Day in the Country

A flock of chicks and chicklets

Now that I am back home in Kansas from my summer in California, I have to solicit “news reports” about the chicken experiment we started. I called my 10-year-old grandson Saturday morning. He answered the phone knowing it was me with caller ID.

“Hi Baba,” he said, sounding all excited.

I reminded him that I’d said I would call and get weekly chicken reports from him.

“Yeah, I knew it was you,” he said.

And then I inquired about the chicks.

“They are out now, out of the chicken run, just running around,” he said. “Do you wanna hear them?”

Of course, I said I did and he proceeded out the front door of the house to find the chicks.

“Can you hear them now?” as he put the phone down next to where the chicks were scratching around and sure enough, I could hear, “Peep, peep, peep.” It was pretty exciting.

“Something tried to get into the pen,” he volunteered, “so I filled the hole they tried to dig and put a big rock on top.”

“Good for you!” I said and told him that was what I would do in Kansas if something tried to dig under the fence.

“Are they going in to roost now at night?” I asked.

I knew that his mother said the chicks had tried staying out in the run several nights. I also knew Dagfinnr had crawled through the little doors of their chicken house, out into the chicken run to retrieve them one by one, explaining to them that they were supposed to come inside, not stay outside.

The answer came, “Yep, they are going in now.”

From then on, our conversation consisted of me saying something and him answering in one word responses.

“Yeah,” another comment from his grandma, “mmmhmmm,” a question, “No,” an explanation, “Yes.” And that’s how the rest of the phone call went.

Those call-and-response experiences are pretty common between generations, I guess, but at least we’d tried, and thank goodness for those chicks that gave us common ground.

This summer, I’d begun calling the older chicks, “the chicks” and the younger batch we’d acquired a few days later “the chicklets” to differentiate them easily.

By the time I left California, the three “chicks” had all their feathers and were looking like miniature hens. The three “chicklets,” on the other hand, were just entering the scruffy stage where it looks like someone should comb their hair.

Everyone in the chick world gets along now. Rhett, the Rhode Island Red, is definitely leader of the pack. They pretty much stay together as they roam the wide acreage in California country, staying close to their house and ours. If the larger group gets separated during a bit of “hunt and peck,” you can still find them in their original little flock of three, always keeping track of one another, calling out in distress if someone is suddenly out of eyesight. Any unusual, loud noise, or blue jays calling out an alarm, sends the group scurrying back to home base, that little pocket garden by the front door that they know so well.

“We need a chicken breed reminder,” my daughter texted. “White Leggorn, Rhode Island Red, Barnum, Americana, Silver laced Whinedock, and???”

I laughed out loud at the names and spellings she concocted. She was, after all, not familiar with chickens. Her mother had taken up this passion long after she had launched into her own world. I especially loved the “Barnum” breed, which you can guess was Amelia the Bantam!

My chickens here in Kansas seem rather mundane now that I’ve experienced every little chicken in a min-flock being a different breed. There’s something exciting, something charming about seeing unique characteristics develop along with their personalities. There’s also something unusual about just a handful of chickens. Everyone is named and accounted for, just like people in your neighborhood. Different can be good!

I’ve decided that the next time I get a new batch of chickens for myself, on another day in the country, I’m getting every single chicklet a different and unusual breed!

Last modified Aug. 31, 2017

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