Tag Archives: Hens

Almost

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Sometimes, in the evening, I like to sit in the chicken coop, in a corner on a stool, and just watch my hens.  They scratch around and peck at this and that, keeping a wary eye on me.  They don’t exactly come when I call, but neither do they seem anxious, rather, just aware of my presence.  As with my children, I have especially enjoyed the young chicks for their beauty and willingness to be coddled and petted and spoken softly to.  Yes, I confess to talking adoringly to my chicks.

ALMOST

Almost
they believe
I am one of them—
close enough for calm.
They, gold-feathered, look up at me
blankly, peeping softly,
let me stroke the feathers
on the tops of their heads,
across their backs,
accepting me best
under their yellow beaks
and down their bristly necks
to billowy young breasts.
The others, blacks and barred,
peck and scratch
comfortably at my feet,
sense me from a disinterested distance,
but run cackling to the corners
at my reaching hand,
as if I were
suddenly some monstrous enormity,
which, of course, I am,
but guileless and doting
despite my alien countenance.
I shelter them from skunk and fox.
I feed them and water them
each day. We visit,
me on my cinderblock stool.
They will grow and repay me with eggs,
and with soft peepings,
condescending to my gentle hand.

Chapter 15: Of Foxes and Hens

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You are my best friend and my big buddy.
(John-3 to Dad)

The day-old chicks arrived at the store in a box delivered by U.S. mail.  While I had ordered only half-a-dozen specialty breed pullets, they came boxed with two dozen unsexed White Leghorns for cushioning and warmth.  I had hung a heat lamp—a warm if impersonal surrogate for their mothers’ downy breasts—in a makeshift pen because the chicks were too tiny and frail to generate enough of their own body heat against the chilly Spring nights.  The hanging lamp radiated light and heat downward to make a spot of warmth in the straw where the chicks gathered close to rest.  I don’t think they ever fully slept, for the light.  But they were warm and safe and comfortable. Continue reading