Tuesday, May 17, 2011

delivery day!

Well, it's official. Today's mail included an advert for a CLE about Ethics in Your Legal Practice, a credit card solicitation, the weekly grocery flyer...and...oh, yes, a BOX OF FIVE LIVE, PEEPING CHICKS! I went off to the office this morning as usual, knowing it could be the day but not wanting to hope too much for it and then having to wait until tomorrow. I was expecting the post office to call my cell phone when the chicks arrived and wait for me to come pick them up, which is apparently the standard practice. I imagined racing to the PO, imagined the little peeping box in the back among the mail sacks and those giant rolling bins of mail...

But it was Hank, not the PO, who called me at the office. I could tell right away by his voice that they had arrived and sure enough, there they were, cheeping in the background. I flew into a panic. Although I had in my head all the things that needed to be done, I had not prepared him to deal with the chicks!

Me: "Okay. I'm on my way. But they're dehydrated and they need to drink. Fill up the waterer. Then pick up each one, dip her beak in the water and watch for her to swallow."

Him: "Which one is the waterer?"

Me: "You know, the jar thing, the one without the holes in it."

Him: "Okay. Right."

Me: "But you have to make sure they drink. Then, find the gro-gel and get about a quarter of it moistened and give it to them on a little saucer."

Him: "Gro-gel?"

Me: "Yes, it's..."

Well, you get the idea. As I was talking to him, I was madly closing windows on my computer, emailing myself documents so I could work at home, trying to think about what work made sense to take home... And totally bummed that I had missed the babies' delivery. And then I had to call him back to remind him to turn on the brooder light, which of course he had already done.

I flew home, trying to imagine the scene at the door when the mailman handed Hank the box of live chicks. The modern world.
The Landing Module
Keep in mind that these birds were most likely hatched on Sunday, put in a box and shipped from Texas yesterday morning and arrived on our doorstep a little before 11 this morning. Quite an odyssey for a nearly weightless ball of fluff with claws, eyes and a beak. But all things considered, pretty quick. When I came through the door, they were all up and around under the light, cheeping vigorously (I know I keep using that word, but what can I say, they do it a lot). In short order, I had replicated the dipping of beaks in the water (didn't want to miss that part) and satisfied myself that they were drinking. Then we got the feeder filled and placed in the box. At first the birds didn't really notice it, but I picked one up and set her in front of it and before long they had all taken a peck at the crumbles, some more heartily than others.

For a few minutes they all made the rounds of the waterer, the feeder, pecking at the pine shavings...and then one of the two darkest ones--the one on the right in this picture--just stopped moving and her head began to droop...and just like that, she was asleep, standing up, beak first in the pine litter.

For the next hour, I mostly hovered over their box (Hank had to bring me a chair, and then a glass of water), watching (and listening to) their every move, cooing at them, stroking their tiny heads, picking each one up in turn (not too much, I promise, but it's good for them to get used to being handled). They were busy. My "nesting" comment last night was apropos of this part, too, because having a box full of 2-day old chicks is like nothing so much as having a newborn human baby in the room. It's pretty much impossible to look at anything else. When Hank brought me that water, it felt exactly like the million times he did the same thing when I was pinned in the rocking chair nursing our fussy baby. So maybe these chicks are my maternal swan song, as it were.

The memories of Max's babyhood feel especially on point given the fortuitous coincidence that these chicks share a birth/hatchday with Max, who takes special delight in the coincidence.

Every year on his birthday, we retell parts of our own "nativity" story. This year, we landed on the moment that first night, after he was born, after Hank had made blueberry pancakes for us and all the midwives, after they had all gone home and left us three tucked into our bed together, Max between us, when neither of us could take our eyes off him to go to sleep even though we were both exhausted. I expect I'll sleep tonight, but I don't mind having a little extra wonder in my life. So far, so good.

Next post: what to call them???

1 comment:

  1. Brunnhilde, Sieglinde, Fricka, Freya, (I just saw/heard the Met HD live broadcast of Die Walkure on Saturday, can you tell?) and Hildegard (as in Hildegard of Bingen)just for some variety! Actually, those names are probably a little too heavy for such cute balls of fluff.