Maria is with us on a visit that will stretch longer than we had originally anticipated. We brought her up for a few days because the initial information we got about her transfer to BARC was that the paperwork would take about a week. She has a 45 ‘overnight visit’ quota each year and we have so under-utilized that checkout privilege that we decided to enjoy our girl as much as possible before I headed with her to Ft Lauderdale. Of course, the best laid plans and all that: we are going to have to petition the court in Leon County (Tallahassee) and have a hearing to get the transfer approved. We are doing what we can to avoid having to take her back to TDC in the meantime.
We had already been planning to get 4 biddies in March, the beginning of our small brood of egg-laying hens who will ultimately live in the Avian Palace. With Maria here, needing to keep busy, we decided to bump up the arrival date. A quick round of Facebook recommendations for where to purchase biddies yielded no results. They don’t start coming into the local Farmer Coops until the middle to end of February. Craigslist, though, pointed us to Hamilton, GA, a small hamlet nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. We saw an ad for female chicks of the breeds I’ve been wanting to get–Rhode Island Reds and Buff Opingtons, both good egg layers and fun birds to have around. Yes, Google Maps said the drive was 2 hrs, 11 minutes but what the hay–I can work early in the morning and late at night right now and this was a nice adventure for the family.
Yesterday, Maria and I went to the Prattville Farm Center. James, pictured on the right, greeted us when we came in and helped us find the feeder, water dispenser and heating lamp that we needed, along with 5 lbs of starter chick food to get us started right. PFC is family owned and I don’t have the words to paint the picture of our time with James. It wasn’t just that he knew a whole lot about chickens. He was the opposite of a slick salesperson wanting to sell us a bunch of stuff. What I could tell was how much he enjoys his job, how quick and generous to share what he knows about biddies and what he knows about folks like Maria and I, who don’t really have a clue what we are doing. No artifice, no pretense, no polish. The real thing.
The four chicks we’ve brought home are beyond deliciously cute. One seems a little more tired, a little more fragile than the others, but they run around the plastic bin that for now will be their brooder, chirping, peeping and keeping Maria and me fascinated. Maria and I already had the conversation about the possibility that one or all may die. Part of what I appreciate about living in a farming community is the forthrightness with which death is fit into life. I am trying to share that with our girl in this time we have together. If all goes well, though, we will have a set of hens that will look like this:
Though we have had a couple of rough patches this week, dealing with the disappointment and letdown of the delay with the move to BARC, we are so incredibly grateful for the wonder of this day. One more shot of pure awesomeness: