Modern Living vs. the Good Old Days. I’m not sure that if we could really compare both ways of living that we would really choose the "good old days" when life was "simple" and our food didn’t come in a box. Grandma made fruit pies with light, flaky crusts, canned everything that came from the garden which was then savored all winter long and everyone was intimately connected to their food because they raised it all themselves – chickens, a cow and a pig. It sounds so rich, with tradition and respect for the land and the food it provides and … like a ton of work.
There are pieces of this lifestyle that have always fascinated me, however. How do you make vinegar? Fresh bread for my family, maybe it’s not so hard. Jams and jellies? I’ll always say "yes," at least to eating it slathered on my toast. And chickens, I’ve always been mesmerized by the whole idea of raising my own chickens and having gorgeous, orange-yolked, full flavored eggs with whites that stay together and don’t run all over the pan.
I finally took the leap last spring and bought what is called a "straight run" of chickens which I now know means that you get both male and female chickens. You can mix and match and let me tell you, buying chickens from a catalog is just like any other catalog shopping – I’ll take 2 of these, 4 of those … I ended up with 5 different breeds and because you have to order 25 or more chicks, plus the free rare breed that I said "sure" to because what the heck, my new flock totaled 28 chicks. I might have had a little buyers regret at that moment, but quickly rationalized it.
The phone rang at 6am one morning and of course I picked it up right away, a little anxious, because who calls that early unless something is wrong. The carpool, mom-scheduling phone calls don’t start until everyone has had their first cup of coffee, about 7am. My accelerated heart beat became a leap when the postal man on the other line said my chicks were at the post office ready to be picked up. I hopped into the car to get them and when I got home was greeted by two more bigger "baby chicks," my girls, just itching to get their hands on the tiny, cute, furry bundles. (I had to use the word "cute." There really isn’t another that fits them better.)
I would like to insert here that my parents were visiting. I love them, they love me and while they would never say so, they think that this sailing, living in rural Maine, owning a small business life that we lead is just a little …. not them. I sometimes get from them what I call the Golden Retriever look, which is when they look at me with their heads cocked to one side and with a puzzled look on their face. I know they wonder sometimes from who’s loins did I come.
So now we have chickens, in the house, while my parents are visiting. They don’t take up that much space when they are little. Just a cardboard box. They need to be inside when you first get them because they are pretty fragile beings just like most baby animals and it’s too cold and windy for them outside at the start. At first they are adorable pooping machines. But they grow quickly. And so does the size and amount of their poop. At first it doesn’t smell. And then it does. My friend who’s raised several batches of chicks was right. You are ready for them to be outside about a week or two before it’s warm enough for them to go outside.
This picture is of Fluffy, our Buff Laced Polish rare breed rooster.
Still not so sure about the good old days, I really like my gas stove.
© 2008 Baggywrinkle Publishing