• Last modified 515 days ago (Dec. 28, 2022)


Another Day in the Country

Chickens can’t eat chocolate

© Another Day in the Country

“What are you guys going to do today?” my daughter asked as she headed out the door to work.

“I’ve got to write my column,” I said, “and I haven’t a clue as to what to write about.”

“Let me write it,” she said. “I have this idea,”

I was shocked. First of all, she’s really busy. Second, I have a deadline. Third, she was getting home late.

But, surprise, she walked in the door, later than late, grabbed her laptop, and started to type. She was really going to do this!

So, I guess, writing my weekly column for me is my first Christmas gift from Jana this year! Here’s what she has to say:

Another Day
in the Country

Columnist’s daughter

“Do these cookies have chocolate in them?” my son asked, eyeing the round cookie balls in the chicken scrap bowl.

“Ooh, I didn’t think about that. I bet they do,” I said.

The cookies were homemade and given to my husband by someone at work.

They were a variety I was familiar with, rolled in shredded coconut, but none of us actually knew what they were called.

Richard had forgotten them in his car, and by the time he found them, they were rancid and ended up as chicken fare.

I pulled the cookies out of the other scraps and dropped them in the trash can.

Looking at my son, a lanky 15-year-old whose idea of fixing his hair is getting out of bed in the morning, I wondered when had he grown this much taller than me.

“What is the deal with chickens and chocolate?” I asked.

“It’s toxic to them, just like it is to dogs” he answered.

He’d done his research. Odd to think that something people love so much is poisonous to our pets, and our chickens definitely are pets — all named, all with unique personalities: Pecker-face (the dominant hen), 5 years old; Pavarotti, June, and Puff, 2 years younger.

Without a heat light, our hens do not lay eggs for a good bit of the winter.

My son says that this is natural and he thinks it’s healthier for the hens to finish their molt and not be forced to lay eggs through artificial interventions.

They have been through so much with us: drought, dogs, multiple fires, and prolonged evacuations.

When we asked Dagfinnr what he wanted for Christmas, he answered, “a new chicken coup.”

I have some pull with Santa, so we will make this happen.

Meanwhile, we are running short of eggs. When I make one of our favorite egg-related breakfasts — pancakes, Dutch babies, French toast, etc. — I tell him he is going to have to go and squeeze an egg out of one of his chickens.

My feelings this time of year are a mix of nostalgia and other less-good feelings.

I remember fondly the Christy Minstrels Christmas record my parents played every year. I loved the feeling on Christmas Eve of the house being clean and softly lit, with the tree sparkling, and presents carefully arranged beneath.

My dad, now passed, always seemed to be able to guess what was in his gifts no matter what we added to the box to throw him off.

“This is a wood plane with a brick wrapped in a towel.”

This time of year is a mix of hope, memories, and sweet expectations that rarely live up to the hype.

I really don’t know how people pull it all off; the tree, gifts, yard decorations, cards (who is taking this picture?), and cooking.

My feelings are still tangled up with those of my childhood, when Christmas meant being out of school, playing games, doing puzzles, eating good food, getting homemade noodles (or hand towels) from my grandma, and giving my mom Jean Naté for the umpteenth time. (She always seemed surprised and grateful.)

As an adult, it feels like a bit of a rip off. My work schedule is bananas (guilt), and I am having trouble keeping up with the advent calendar I insist on doing for my son.

“Can I check today’s door?” he texts me at work.

“There are some labor disputes going on with the elves,” I reply. “Hopefully things will be resolved this afternoon.”

My husband gave me a short list of items (two things) he would enjoy for Christmas then promptly went out and bought himself one of them.

We are both 53, I think. At this point, some math is involved when age comes up, and I have to figure it out. My husband got two motorcycles this year.

“Thank you for being so patient while I go through my midlife crisis,” he says.

I told him to get a life insurance policy when he bought the bike.

I told him, when he asked, no, I would not ride it with him as I didn’t want my son to lose both of his parents at the same time.

Still, he will be getting heated motorcycle gloves for Christmas. I couldn’t find the heated underwear he wanted.

It’s Christmas. I’m home from work for a few hours. The people I love the most in the world are here.

My husband is on the couch binge-watching motorcycle vlogs on YouTube. My mother is making fun of how I type with long fingernails. My son is in his room, thinking about chickens and food and fun and the magic of the holidays.

Even in California, it’s another day in the country. I’m going to make hot drinks for the crew and suggest a good holiday movie.

Last modified Dec. 28, 2022