Today, we begin a new adventure – chicken farming! I can’t help but remember a story from my childhood when I stare down at our ten cute, red balls of fur — the Rhode Island Reds that Stephen picked up yesterday.
Oh, how their little peep-peep noises take me back . . .
I was probably about six years old, which means my parents had already been blessed with four daughters and at last, a son. We ranged in ages from newborn to six.
I’m sure the whiney noises we made when we saw the cute little chicks for sale at Easter time were not nearly so sweet as the peep-peep noises coming from the crate in the parking lot.
I begged. “Oh please, Daddy. Can’t we have one?”
“Pleeeeeease, Daddy? They’re so cute,” pleaded Kim, tugging on his pant leg.
“I promise I’ll take care of it,” Cyndie guaranteed as she nodded her head.
Tami, at two, just smiled down at the brood, while Mommy swaddled Chuck and shook her head.
Daddy shook his head, too. “No. I don’t think so. Little chicks grow up to be big chickens. Then what will we do with it?”
He drew a deep breath and glanced at Mommy. “Well, okay.”
Mommy objected. “Robert, I don’t think–“
“Oh, come on, Honey. What’s wrong with just one little chick?”
“Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!” we all chimed, then proceeded to argue about which was to be the Chosen One.
As we piled in to the station wagon, we bickered about who got to sit by the window, then we argued all the way home about what to name the chick.
“I don’t like Fluffy. How about Bunny?”
“Bunny? That’s dumb. It’s a chick.”
At last, Mommy spoke. “Peep-Peep.”
We pondered the name for only a moment. “Yeah! Peep-Peep. That’s perfect!”
At home, Daddy set up an area in the bathroom for Peep-Peep, complete with newspaper on the floor, a plate of chicken feed and a cup of water. We watched, like proud new parents and patiently picked up spilled food, blotted spilled water, until the dreaded call came from down the hall — time to go to bed.
“Oh, it can’t be time for bed yet.”
“Can’t we stay up just a little while longer?”
“Peep-Peep isn’t sleepy and either am I.”
“But she’ll get lonely. Can’t I sleep in here?”
Daddy came to the bathroom to shoo us all out and off to bed. When Peep-Peep followed with the rest of his brood, he bent to pick her up. “Oh, no you don’t. You stay in here.” He gently placed her on the toilet seat, then hurried out behind us.
Daddy shut the door just as we turned to say “goodnight” to our new pet. We should have named that little chick “Speedy,” for she was faster than any of us could have imagined.
I cried, “Wait,” then closed my eyes when I realized it was too late.
We heard one final “peep,” then heard Daddy click his tongue and say, “Oh, my goodness.” Not sure what was the more pitiful sound.
That night, I don’t know who I felt more sorry for, Peep-Peep or Daddy.