Wednesday, March 14, 2018

hello, little ones

It's still dark outside. Sunrise today is at 7:11 a.m. but both Ed and I, late sleepers on any other day, are awake long before even a hint of dawn.

We should be on the road by 6:35, he reminds me, even though I need no reminders.
Breakfast afterwards, okay?
Of course.

Still, as we get ready to head out, I grab Snowdrop's leftover croissant and make myself a nice frothy cappuccino, to be devoured on the road. Years have passed since I've had coffee on the run! It brings back memories of cluttered days.

We arrive at Farm and Fleet at 6:58. Perfect!

We wait in the car, noting that we're the only ones in the parking lot.
I thought the chicken guy the other day said there would be people here to pick their favorites at 7!
Well, he was new, he was just speculating.

We walk in at 7. First customers! We head straight for the big tubs of two-day old chickens.

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You've never seen anything so incredibly cute!

Buying chickens is not a one two three thing. You have to register. Name, address, phone number. And you have to select your breed. We've done our homework (and then some!). Barred Rock, Light Brahma (the most unusual of the bunch), Speckled Sussex...

These chickens are from the Cackle Hatchery in Missouri. If you have time, you may want to watch this video clip -- it describes the (3rd generation family run) business of hatching chickens. It's one of only three hatcheries in the country that will allow you to pick a breed (from a very long list) and get them delivered (and this is crucial) within two days of birth.

As I point to the cheeps of choice (that one! she's already eating! she'll do well! and that one! she looks bold but not aggressive! and this one!), I notice that other customers are indeed arriving. Mostly families. Kids, here before school starts, to pick their chicks (or ducks -- they have those too).

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But like the first time chick people that we are, we're in a hurry. We've got our three in a box that sort of looks like a McDonald's Happy Meal. They mustn't get cold! (Never mind that they've already traveled in trucks on a not too warm March night and seem to have survived just fine.)

Home at last. We put them in.

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They are sort of in shock. For a few minutes. And then they're sort of asleep -- a great antidote to stress. And then they're just plain cute! Tomato (brown), Pepper (black) and Cupcake (yellow). Names selected by Snowdrop, with some exercise of veto power and a light steer from me.

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Predictably, I sit, staring at them in fascination and I worry. Ed! The thermometer says 102F (39C)! It keeps going up!
Raise the light (Ed has attached the heating light to a tripod).
But why does it keep going up?
Because the room is warmer. -- he says in that tone that implies "I can't believe I have to explain that to you."
But now it's too warm! And Pepper keeps falling asleep next to the water. Her head may roll in and she'll drown. They warn you about that. I'm going to switch the dish.

They don't like the switched dish.

I switch back.

Ed, are they sleeping too much?
I don't know, gorgeous...

Ah, but when they cheep their delicate little cheeper cheeps, it's like Mozart playing in there! (And indeed, when I hum a Mozart tune, they perk up and look at me with expectation... I write this in the evening, during the live broadcast of the Wisconsin Young Artists Competition and Pepper must surely be hearing it because she is soloing like crazy in the sun room!)


And so begins our baby chick adventure. Can we keep them going for a whole two months inside? We're surely going to try.

Breakfast at last!

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And in the afternoon, I go to pick up a very excited Snowdrop! Her friend asks -- can she play in the park? Not today, pal. Not today.

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We have only a scant half hour at the farmhouse before dance class. Snowdrop is mesmerized by the little cheeper antics!
Oh, they are babies!

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I had warned her that for the first couple of days we cannot play with them. They need to adjust. Snowdrop doesn't mind. She is content just watching.

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We take a break for a snack and a read. This is our unwind time. A day cannot proceed without that moment on the orange couch.

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And now it's time to go to dance. One last minute with Tomato, Pepper and Cupcake!

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We're at the studio. Ready!

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As I watch the little one from behind the one way window, I really have to admire her for fitting in so well in this world of bigger girls. She doesn't pick up on all the little pieces of the big girl puzzle, but she does pick up on a lot. She is a wonderful observer of the human condition!

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And is a beautiful dancer in her own rendition of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Whatever version of the story was presented to the little ballerinas, I'm glad it included a lot of happy dances.

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Evening. Ed is playing volley ball, I'm babysitting the chicks. That means I get up every two minutes to make sure they haven't drowned or (inadvertently) destroyed each other. My reward? A happy trio and a string of lovely notes. Especially from Pepper. The loud one.