• Last modified 1790 days ago (Aug. 29, 2019)


ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: The miraculous U.S. Postal Service

© Another Day in the Country

My Post Office Lady called me early on a Wednesday morning a couple of weeks ago.

“They’re here,” she crooned.

“I’ll be right down,” I said, and hung up.

I ran into the bathroom, grabbed my jeans and shirt off the edge of the tub where I’d discarded them the night before, slipped into my sandals and ran through the house calling, “They’re here! They’re here!”

The house wasn’t an empty-nester house like it most often is, because my daughter and grandson had flown back with me from California for 10 days, after I’d spent the summer months with them.

I never quite figure out why Jana likes to come back to Ramona in August for a visit when I’ve just been there living with her and her family all summer long. Why not come at Christmas? We finally figured it out. It’s not for the sole purpose of seeing me, although she decidedly sees more of me during these 10 days in Kansas than she does in two months in the Napa Valley because she isn’t working!

She’s here! We make sure she doesn’t even have to plan meals — which seems to be the bane of her life when she’s worked a full day and suddenly has to figure out what to cook for supper (dinner in California).

My daughter comes at the end of summer to enjoy being in the country — far away from good cell phone reception, far away from traffic jams, far away from what she calls “the first world demands of the Spa.” And, here I am calling them out of bed at 6 a.m. California time, “They’re here.”

Out the door we all scrambled, into the car, and down the two whole blocks to the post office where we met Jess with the camera, prepared to take pictures of the ceremonial arrival as our gal at the post office brought out the precious box of baby chicks.

We all gathered around, leaned down to listen to the musical sound of chicks cheeping. I carefully opened up the top of the box and there they were — 23 beautiful, lively, precious, inquisitive baby chicks. And to think, they came through the mail.

I’ve been going through this ritual for almost 20 years now. We actually got the first batch in the mail for my mother who’d moved back to join us in her hometown. Mom loved chickens. For many years, she’d had flocks of Barred Rock hens on the family mini-farm in Oregon. Then it got more difficult for her to maneuver the slippery walk downhill to the chicken house in winter and she and Dad decided, “No more chickens.”

That first batch of 30 chicks that came to us at the Ramona Post Office was just as exciting as it was a couple of weeks ago when we got our latest little flock. On that first batch, I hadn’t consulted my mother about the breed or the classification of the chicks. I’d wanted to surprise her, and what a surprise it was. I’d ordered an “Exotic Mixed Breed Special,” straight run because they were cheaper, without realizing the ramifications. We had 18 roosters, exotic and feisty, to contend with and 16 hens all the way from the size of a bulky Brahma to a delicate Black Star.

This time, having learned a lot of chicken-inspired lessons, I was very picky. This company always offers a “free mystery chick” if you want one. Every time I can’t resist, and I get one. And every time it’s a rooster. We’ve had some beautiful roosters in our flock because of this; but this time I resisted. “Odds are that out of 23 chicks there’ll be a rooster in the bunch, anyway,” I wisely said to myself.

Now, I’m watching my little flock of chicks with an eagle eye, looking for signs of rooster-hood.

Right off the bat, only three days out of the shell one of the little Astrolop chicks rose up to challenge my hand as I dropped treats of oatmeal into the bathtub.

“Oh-oh,” Dagfinnr said, “that chick is just like Penny was — the little challenger! Maybe she’s a he!”

Our new little family of chicks was chosen with care. I always like the adventure of trying new breeds but they all have to be destined to grow into medium-sized hens so there is a chance for more equality in the flock.

This time we got eight Americana chicks because they are bred to lay blue-tinted eggs and I’m addicted to colored eggs in the nest boxes! We got six Black Star chicks because they are good layers, and six more Black Astrolop chicks because this was my grandson’s favorite chick — who turned out to be a rooster — when we got him a mini flock of six chicks three summers ago in California. And then I ordered a handful of White Polish Topknots just because they are so cute!

So, now you know what I’m doing on another day in the country, “Watching chicks!”

Last modified Aug. 29, 2019