All free chickens need a break from the box. So we lifted Merlin from the confines of his newspaper-lined container and took him to the beach. Offered up a little expanded world view. Might as well show him all the options.
For the Birds
Maybe I should have known better.
That if we are crafting our lives through our thoughts and words (and in particular, if we are typing them out into the ether through the internet), then one should be careful what one says.
Two days ago I titled a post “I Guess the Chicken Comes First.” Little did I know that my tongue in cheek remark would have me wishing I could eat my words (no tastes-like-chicken jokes, okay?).
For those of you just tuning in, here’s a catch up:
The Bohemian found an orphaned baby chick last week and try as he might to leave it to its fate with the rest of the tens of thousands of wild chickens that have invaded our island, he just couldn’t let it die. Besides, it immediately imprinted upon him and followed him everywhere, chirping incessantly.
Now it chirps incessantly from a box in our living room. Not because it is unhappy, but because this lone chick misses its clutch. He (yes, Jeb and the Bohemian think it will grow to be a rooster – ugh!) is simply lonely.
Rest assured, our little feathered friend is thriving. He grows daily (pooping more and more by the minute – did you know they say that chickens poop 30 – 40 times a day? Oh goodie!) and has already outgrown one cardboard box and been upgraded to a plastic storage bin.
Everything I’ve read about raising chickens has offered tips on how to get the chickens to let you handle them. The advice is to use food as a means to lure them in to letting you pick them up. Such is not the case with this guy. Whose name, by the way, is Merlin, as in King Arthur and the Grail. (We’ve been using the TV series “Merlin” – a Hollywoodish version of the King Arthur legend – as a reward for Jeb doing nightly flash card exercises. Magic and Merlin are in the air…)
Or in my hand. Which is my point. I’ve been looking for advice on how to keep a chick from crying every time you walk out of the room. Yes, this little one wants to constantly be held and wants to see a body (no, not a shirt hanging on a nearby chair – he knows the difference) at all times. If left alone, he will chirp the distressed peep that repeats in anxious constants and definitely grates the nerves.
During the day, this can be doable – sort of. Yesterday, I worked at my desk from home. I set him up in his clear plastic bin next to me. I even placed a small mirror in his box so he could look (and subsequently peck), at himself. He warmed under his lamp. Pooped on top of the little, stuffed animal lamb I nestled in the corner. He tweeted his low, happy chirps, content as can be.
But leave his side to get a glass of water? It’s loud chirpy “where are you?! where are you?!”
As I said, during the day this is not always pleasant, but it’s at night that it’s intolerable. No one wants to wake to that alarm at 1am. Though, the Bohemian did sit next to him for about an hour in the middle of the night, trying to find some way to soothe him and then sneak away back to bed.
For the last two nights, we’ve managed to get a whole night’s sleep by simply wrapping him up in a towel so that he can’t see. Much like being under his mother. Then we cover the box so it’s dark and put the lamp above so that the heat still permeates his area. So far, it seems that if he’s in darkness, he’s happy – and sleeping.
I am suddenly realizing that I have written many words here on the details of parenthood with Merlin. This I am not necessarily proud of (and did I just refer to myself as a parent to a chicken?). In fact, as I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I’m a little embarrassed that we have a chicken at all. It’s not quite as bad as deciding to hand feed a cockroach as a pet, but on this island, wild chickens are not held in much higher regard. In fact, I’ve heard the locals call them rats with wings. You follow?
So this is how I rationalize it. Jeb has been begging for a dog for three years. For this, we are not ready. Zelva the turtle was no substitute last summer. He could hardly cuddle her and she was always hiding. Merlin can teach him some basic take-care-of-a-pet tasks and he loves to be held (at least for now).
Most importantly, this chicken in my living room scenario is only temporary. He’s got a few more weeks in the box and then he makes the transition to the outside world. We’ll make it smooth and easy for him, but he’s destined for outdoor turf. All I can say, is that if he’s going to rule this roost, he better do it quietly (hah! you scoff…)
I still have a silent hope that he’ll turn out to be a hen. Man, I really don’t like those strutting roosters with big claw spurs and fleshy red, flopping cock’s combs.
In the Merlin series we’ve been watching, the premise is that King Arthur is constantly protected by Merlin. Arthur thinks Merlin is only his simple servant, but really, he is the most powerful wizard in the world. Merlin keeps this secret to himself, but the viewer can see his magic coming to the aide of Arthur in every episode.
I’ll keep this in mind with our newest family member. That sometimes there are forces at work of which we are unaware. Sometimes there is more than what we see.
Right now I do see a pretty cute little chick-a-dee. And I see myself, right there, at his service. I’m laughing in all the ridiculousness. Wondering how in the world it came to be that I am driving down the road with a chicken in a sock.