One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

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As I sit in my living room overseeing my children’s speech therapy session while holding a chicken I wonder, when did I completely lose it? Was there a gradual loss of with-it-ness or was it more of an abrupt leap off the deep end? 

I’ve become a crazy chicken lady. Watering the garden, holding a chicken. Picking up the house, holding a chicken. Glass of wine on the couch, holding a chicken. Please please please don’t let me purchase any chicken figurines, it reminds me a bit of my mother in a terrifying sort of way. Please also hold off on the “you can take the girl out of Tehachapi” witticisms as well thankyouverymuch. 

Let’s rewind a bit to how I got myself into this situation…

“You want chickens? Aren’t you afraid of birds?” This was a legitimate conversation I had with my husband. I know the man appreciates locally sourced ingredients and the farm-to-table movement but this? I mean, we compost… Does he realize that enjoying fresh eggs is on a different level than owning chickens? That there is an entire realm of pet-ownership and responsibility involved, including actually interacting with them? They make noise, they poop a lot, they peck and scratch and flap, they’re birds. And yes, he has a legitimate bird phobia. Something about the way their eyes dart around without any warmth or connection, you can’t trust them… His words, not mine. 

I need to teach my facial expressions how to use their inside voices.

Actually it reminds me of when he came out to Australia to see me, when we were falling in love. We visited the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary while on the Gold Coast and attended their bird show. He kept his lips sealed about his bird issues. We have a fun accidental series of photos from him trying to figure out the GoPro he had brought which captures him seething with paranoia as the specimens flew overhead. That’s courtship right there. 

As for me, I’m down with chickens. I grew up with them- the outdoor kind. I like to believe my expectations are firmly planted in reality. We decided to go for more docile, prone to being handled breeds instead of the higher egg-layers since these additions to our family are also expected to be family pets- hence my chicken-handling efforts. Our wonderful dog, Ozzie, passed away last year and we aren’t ready for another commitment of that level just yet. Life just got more manageable with the twins after all, no need to crank the intensity level back up.

Fast forward to today and we have 4 fluffy baby chicks, sourced from the wonderful folks at Island Seed & Feed.

The lovely ladies are named after our grandmothers (in order below): Blanche, Cecile (Cece), Jane and Betty.

We’ve been fortunate to have some expert guidance along the way. Matt @backyardrancher is our guy (he and Ty knew each other prior to our chicken foray), a real chicken-aficionado. He got us all set up with a brooder and the custom coop should be ready any day now. Check him out. With 7.5k Instagram followers apparently there are a lot of people out there who are really REALLY into chickens. I hear they’re even getting popular with the Montecito crowd. Maybe I’m on fleek after all. Oh, that’s not a current phrase anymore? Nevermind.  

So far they’ve been a hit, obviously the twins love them. I can’t count the number of times I hear “baby chicky baby chicky.” They love to pet them but it still needs to be a supervised activity, last thing I need is an unfortunate toddler/chicken incident on the books.

I’m a little concerned about Blanche. She’s not the brightest bulb in the box, and for chickens that’s saying something. The ladies seem to be going through the “storming” stage of team development and Betty and Jane are quarreling over who is top hen, as if on cue Blanche is always at the wrong place at the wrong time. I mean, if you put a pile of feed out Blanche will be 3 inches over pecking at bare wood. When holding her she keeps trying to eat a random freckle on my arm. I don’t want to jump to any conclusions here but thank heavens she’s sweet. 

Anyways, check on me if you haven’t heard from me in a month. I may have really lost it. They’ll say, “I think it had something to do with chickens, could that be right?” She has gone to the birds.

For my fellow MerWomen out there, I just learned that the famous singing Sirens of Greek legend, told in Homer’s Odyssey, were not voluptuous, beautiful, enchanting mermaids luring hypnotized men to their deaths as long believed. “It goes like this: Odysseus, warned by the enchantress Circe of the danger posed by the Sirens’ song, orders his crew to stuff their ears with wax. But, curious to a fault, he has himself bound to the ship’s mast so he can listen without flinging himself into the sea. The Sirens promise him tales of all that had occurred during the war at Troy, and everywhere else besides; enchanted, he begs his crew to release him. He rants, raves, and threatens, but to no avail. His crew sails on until the song fades in the distance, and so saves his life.” Homer, however, did not describe the Sirens’ physical appearance in his epic poem.

University of Pennsylvania classicist Emily Wilson unveils that “the Classical Greeks understood the Sirens differently: as bird-women, creatures that Mediterranean cultures traditionally associated with hidden knowledge.”

The article Sirens of Greek Myth Were Bird-Women, Not Mermaids goes on to clarify “Yet today, mermaids or beautiful sea nymphs replace the dark, winged Sirens of ancient times. Wilson suggests that later writers might have conflated Sirens with water nymphs like the Lorelei, a 19th-century poetic creation whose seductive songs lured men to their deaths along the Rhine River. The Sirens likely got consumed, too, by the explosion of seductive mermaid iconography during the same period.”

So there you have it. My new baby chicks are the real Sirens amongst us Merfolk and maybe, just maybe Blanche is trying to teach me some of that ancient wisdom after all. 

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