Hallelujah Highway

Celebrating the Journey

The Chickens and the 4th of July ~ Rae

on July 10, 2013

What the heck do chickens and the 4th of July have in common?

For 4th of July this year my family went “camping”. I used the quotation marks to signify the hilarity of our trip. We spent 3 days at a campground 20 minutes from our house. Ah the adventure. We have a few reasons we camp there. This particular campground is on the side of the mountain that gives the best firework show in our town.  So by camping there we do not have to fight any crowds or traffic. Instead we enjoy 3 days of fishing, bicycling, game playing, water splashing, smore eating and good ole 4th of July fun.  We have done this twice now and this year we even had some of our family members come just for the fireworks. It was a blast. (Ha- pun intended)

Well, perhaps I should claim “Blast-ISH” since recently my husband was hurt at work and is still recuperating from surgery on his leg. Usually, camping is one of the occasions when my husband spoils me. He packs, shops, and organizes everything. During the trip he cooks all the meals and basically allows me to pretend to be the queen I keep telling everyone I am (seriously- I used to ask my students to call me Queen D -YEP- I have issues). Yet this year with his injury there was NO WAY he could do everything like he usually does. We almost canceled completely, but we have looked forward to this holiday all year. Plus my husband is going a little stir crazy staying at home during his recovery. So it was on me to handle the details.

I would like to say I handled it all with grace, composure and very few curse words. I would like to say that, but I can’t. I am human after all and used to being the camping Queen.  I did try my best though and I have bruises everywhere to testify to my hard work. I packed, planned, loaded and organized everything. I did a pretty good job though and only forgot the syrup for pancakes. 

There is one other silly reason we like to camp so close to home: our animals. I have admitted before that my family has an obsession with animals. My husband seems to want a small farm which cracks me up, but our agreement has been I only have to take care of the indoor pets and he, with our daughters’ help, takes care of the outdoor pets. For this trip we took two of the dogs with us, but left the other 2 dogs, 2 goats, pot belly pig, turtle, cat, rabbit, turkey and umpteen CHICKENS at home. With the weather being in the mild 100’s I needed to go home each day to feed, water and clean up after all the animals. This is another task I have joyfully (please hear the sarcasm) taken on since my spouse’s injury. I was SOOO very excited when I left the camp ground on the 4th to go take care of the animals. I was thrilled to leave all the fun and festivities to tend animals I usually overlook. While I love our 4 dogs, and cat Pumpkin with the extra toe; the farm animals have never interested me much.  I might giggle at the goats and pig, but I pretty much ignore all the chickens. My husband is bummed that I haven’t been too interested in the 3 different kinds of chickens we have. Who even knew there were different types??? Apparently, we have Jersey Giants, some fuzzy thing that looks nothing like a chicken, and the normal regular egg laying chickens (I think. I could be wrong. For all I know we have 4 types of chickens). To make matters more complicated, my husband was recently traumatized when his Jersey Giant eggs hatched but all the babies were decimated by ants. He has since then been very worried about all his beloved pets. So I promised to take very good care of all his ridiculous lovely animals and rush back to the fun.

I begrudgingly did my duty. I threw the alfalfa into the goat pen getting only some of it stuck in my hair. I cleaned the dog pens and fed them. I gave Rosie, the pig, her favorite treat- dog food. I filled the food and water bowls of the cat, the rabbit, and the turtle. I sprayed all the animals off with water since it was so hot and then I started to leave.

 WHOOPS, I almost forgot about the darn precious chickens. I trudged to the back of our property and filled the chickens’ bowls with the perfect blend of crumble and scratch (Don’t ask- I really don’t know what that means. I just followed my husband’s directions). As I bent over to pour some in the last of the three pens I saw——- BABY CHICKENS!! Bunches.  Now these were produced by our regular, plain, boring chickens and not the exciting oversized Jersey Giants. However, these were the first successful hatching of chicks we have ever had and with the recent loss of the Jersey Giant chicks this seemed all the more exciting.

 My fowl mood (Ha-Ha again pun intended) lifted, because of course who can resist baby animals? Baby “anythings” are adorable. The chicks crowded under their mother as she pecked them clean. The hatchlings were fluffy little balls of feathers. I admired them all: most were completely black; one had a yellow head and one….. Gulp. I noticed off to the side there was one little chick just barely out of its shell, slimy and covered with ants. It was a horrible sight because the chick was still alive but weak and crying. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to touch the yucky messy thing but I couldn’t stand watching it suffer. I took a deep breath, reached in my royal hands that have never before touched a live chicken, and scooped up the little fighter, ants and all. I took him out and gently poured water over him to try to get the ants off. I picked off by hand any ants that remained. I rubbed him with a soft towel. He sat in my hands chirping weakly and pitifully.sick chicken

I called my husband to tell him he was finally a proud papa. He laughed and asked me to put all the baby chicks in a box with food and water. All of a sudden, I think I am the chicken whisperer and take charge of them all. I gather all the chicks into a large box. I pet them, feed them, talk to them, and count them. We had nine total including the injured chick. He was noticeably less fluffy and still barely moving. I asked my husband over the phone what I should do – leave him with the others or not? He told me to leave him with the rest and we would just have to wait and see how he would be.

As I bent over to say goodbye, I whispered to him, “I am naming you ‘America’ since you were born on the 4th of July” (ya, ya super corny).

sick chicken with others 

The Chicken Whisperer Queen henceforth returned to her campground. The rest of the evening was perfect. The fireworks seemed better than years past and we all celebrated our country proudly.

Epilogue: America is just fine. He is now exactly like his siblings in size and energy. He is one of two chicks who have a yellow head with a black body. He also likes me much more than he likes my husband.  Just saying.

healthy chicken

The moral of the story is I NEEDED this event to happen. With all the STUFF that has happened over the last year: dealing with depression, mourning with the rest of the country over the Newtown tragedy, helping my daughter deal with a friend’s suicide, my husband being injured, etc.;  God knew I needed a lesson on the beauty of life. I needed to see what an amazing gift life is through both a simple tiny animal’s survival and the enormity of living in a country that is free and prosperous. I needed to remember that for every dark moment there is a moment of light. I needed to celebrate America’s birthday and the beauty of my life.

Happy Birthday America.

flag shirt

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