Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sally’s Secrets—There Ain’t Nobody Here But…. 

     When you are buying dog food at the farm supply store would you think that you need your defenses up about being influenced into making an unintended purchase?  Are you going to impulse buy a horse harness for your cat? I think not.  At the supermarket you know what the marketing guys are are up to.  They strategically place sugary cereal at the same height as a child's eyes, sample you with expensive $15 a pound cheese on gourmet crackers.  Your guard is up and with your list in hand you are prepared to stick to only what you need.  Nothing can prepare you for the reaction that occurs when 4 small girls see a tub full of adorable, yellow, fluffy little chicks.  Yes, there is one born every minute as they say, and that day we were it.   

     In the  “ People’s Republic of New Jersey” you cannot buy one or two chickens, you have to buy six.  So what did we do?  We bought 12 chicks and 2 ducklings.  Added to this insanity was the fact that we had nowhere to put them.  We didn't care, all we kept seeing was an adorable handful of cute fluff, children who were ecstatic, and a future of yummy fresh eggs.

     It took about 24 hours for reality to set in.  There we were with a bunch of livestock and nowhere to put them, plus a cat that thought we loved him enough to bring home fresh food. 

     Their makeshift home was our downstairs bathtub with a gate across it. (This was only made possible by the fact that this bath area had a wall halfway across the first part of the tub, creating an area like a shower stall so the gate fit perfectly. 

     When chicks are so young they have to be kept warm.  What time of year do they sell them?  When it is still freezing of course.   Another marketing ploy, as guess who sells all the heat lamps and all the other paraphernalia that you need to grow them?  I was beginning to wonder if the owner of the farm store was moonlighting in a second career as a marketing exec.  The cost of the eggs (that would not even appear for six months) was looking to be pretty expensive at this point.

     The snow melts and spring rolls in and dear husband is still promising to build that chicken coop and keeps promising and keeps promising.  The chicks get bigger and bigger and noisier and noisier and one day you realize that they are not cute anymore.  They are downright ugly.  They lose all that fluff and get this moth-eaten, scrawny buzzard look about them and they smell nasty and poop everywhere (still in the tub!).

     It was now April, the 26th to be exact (and I only remember the date as it was hubbie's birthday), he wanted to go to the Javit's center in NYC to the car show.   We left the girls with our very competent babysitter and went off to celebrate.  If you have ever been to a show at the Javit's you will know that the noise is over whelming.  Not only are there thousands of people but the companies that are there are bombarding you with music and ads.  We were unaware that anyone was trying to contact us so on the trip home it was a surprise to find eight new voice mail messages on Doug's phone.  I thought he was joking when he said they were from the police and the fire department.   It was not a joke. 

     The girls had been playing a board game in the living room and one of them had mentioned that it was a little chilly.  The room was home to a monster sized wood burning stove.  That baby could crank.  It was actually an insert but we did not have a fireplace so Doug had built a brick platform for it.   They asked Sarah our babysitter to make a fire which was not a problem apart from the fact that she had not noticed the 3 very large candles decorating the top of the stove.  It was almost May and we had stopped using it weeks before.  It was all cleaned out and nicely decorated for the spring.  Well, the fire was roaring within minutes and they resumed their game.  The festivities were interrupted by strange spitting noises.  As they turned around the penny dropped very quickly.  With wax melting on to the plates and spitting it was just a matter of time before something worse happened.  Sarah being the clear headed and mature babysitter that she was did the most important thing first, she got the kids out.   Taking the oven gloves out of the kitchen she gingerly tried to remove the plates.  All was well until one tipped and the wax hit the stove and that was it, a fire!!!!!!

     We returned to a very upset, sheepish babysitter, kids that were having a blast at the neighbor’s house because it was 4 hours past their bed time, and a living room plastered with wax and yellow foam. Apparently I had been visited by most of the county fireman and police and one lonely officer had stayed to wait for us.  The house was filled with this horrible mist of smoke that made my breathing weird so rather than lose a lung we piled the kids in the minivan and headed to a local motel.  My first thought was that with all the excitement and four kids in one bed sleep would not be in our future.  They were all so exhausted that not a peep was heard until morning.

     The chicks, or should I say, baby buzzards, were safe in the bathroom.  I do not think the twenty emergency workers even knew that they were there.  The bathroom door had been firmly closed and it was the only room not affected.

     The next day we moved to a condo for a week while the cleaning company cleaned every surface in the house.  When I returned one day to meet the people that were giving us a quote to clean the yellow gunk off the wood stove I opened the bathroom door to find the buzzards had escaped.  Pretty thoughts were not in my head as I surveyed the squawking disgusting mess. That was it. I had Mommy meltdown. 

    Poor Doug got the brunt of Mommy meltdown and was probably glad he was at work.  He came home early that day and finally made them a home outside.  It was a makeshift coop located on the inside of the shed wall and looked like a rabbit cage.  He made an escape hatch and a ramp so they could climb in and out.

     Over the next few weeks we began to realize that when it rained, water came down the mountainside straight into the enclosure.   Now we had scrawny buzzards running around in what can only be described as “poop soup,” and no eggs for four more months.

     Did you know chickens smell?  Actually, chickens smell really nasty, especially when playing in “poop soup.”  Where was the shed?  About twelve feet from the garage. Twelve hundred feet would have been preferable. 

    Well, we finally did get eggs, but be careful what you wish for.  Twelve chickens laying one egg each every day well, you do the math.  We had them scrambled, boiled, fried.  We had quiches, meringues, cakes, cookies and we still couldn't eat them all.  We were inundated with them. 

     We finally gave them away one year, just before we went on vacation, as for some reason none of our friends wanted to babysit them. Can you believe that?

     The next time we bought chickens it was an entirely different story.  The next egg-citing installment coming soon.


  1. Looks really good Sally, welcome aboard! I'll put you on my "blogs I follow" list to get ya some more visitors! :)

  2. Thanks for your help Liz. I appreciate your time to help me publish this for Sally. She is the creative....I am the technical.