Monday, March 3, 2008

peeps in the 'hood

This morning was pretty standard: pour coffee, take shower, get dressed, pack lunches, let the dog out, feed the chickens...

That's right, we are the proud Foster Family of five chicks--exotic hens, even. One is garden-variety yellow, but we have Araucanas (also known as "Easter Egg chickens"--they lay colored eggs!), a Rhode Island Red, and a Barred Rock Bantam. My friend knows a Bird Guy, and he is allowing us to babysit these chickens, just for kicks (and pecks, and scratches...).

We have them in a glass aquarium in our breakfast nook, on top of a heating pad and with a lamp to keep them cozy. The trick is to warm them enough so they don't huddle together pathetically, but not too much, because then they'll run around the aquarium peeping and pecking and freaking out, like hens in a hothouse. We haven't overheated them yet, but I do wonder if it's normal for a chick to lie down like a dog, flat on its tummy with its chin on the floor?

I wake up in the middle of the night worried about freezing our peeps. Turns out we can't bring any creatures into our home without adding them to the Keeps Me Up At Night list (except ants, OF COURSE).

Daughter #1 is in the process of naming them (so far we have "Morning," "Sunshine," "Night," "Star," and "River"), and Daughter #2 wants to hold them in her chubby hands, maybe a little too tightly (when the peeping gets shrill, it's a good hint she's putting on the squeeze).

Our poor dog: she spent the first evening with chicks running back and forth between rooms and Freaking Out, what with the responsibility of keeping us and our cat and five chicks Safe and Monitored. And then it was the one night in a blue moon when a Gnarly Cat Fight took place right outside our back door. The kind of cat fight that started with a sound that made us sit up in bed and ask each other if it was Daughter #2 who was caterwauling...or if an infant had been abandoned on our doorstep. When husband let our dog out to Make It Stop, For Crying Out Loud, she shot through the open door at 50MPH, a nice release for pent-up Chick Anxiety. And that was the end of caterwauling, if not peeping.

In a matter of days, the little chicks are getting taller, growing longer necks, and becoming more and more of a Flight Risk, as a matter of fact...

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