I discovered that my chickens are smarter than I am. That does not bode well with me. I have college and graduate school degrees. I speak 2.75 languages (meaning besides the two languages in which I am fluent, I speak enough French and Spanish to order a glass of mineral water in a small, uncrowded European cafe). I know how to color coordinate clothes. And I am capable of realizing that I should feel full after eating three slices of lemon meringue pie. But still, my chickens are smarter than I am.
I feed them every morning. I give them water. All I expect in return, are a few eggs now and then. They’ve been fairly cooperative. But one hen, Coco, feeling rather broody, gathered sixteen eggs beneath her bottom when I turned away for a few moments. Then another hen, Ethel, climbed into an adjacent nesting box in a concerted attempt to monopolize all eggs.
Although their nesting boxes are separated by a two inch high wall, these hens managed to drive me crazy with their silly chicken games. One morning, I’d arrive to find Coco with ten eggs beneath her and Ethel with six; the next day, Coco sat on two with eight under Ethel and so on. When I dared reprimand them, they gave me the evil eye, throwing me looks that said,
“Don’t even think of touching these eggs or you’ll be at the bottom of our pecking order.”
After two weeks of this nonsense (or hensense, in this case), I announced to my family that I planned on collecting all coop eggs and tossing them. These hens’ behavior was not conducive to hatching chicks. They’re idiot hens, I said.
“Doesn’t it take three weeks to hatch a chicken egg?” Son #2 reminded me. “Can’t you just give them another week?”
I caved in, knowing full well that there’d be no chicks. The same thing happened last year.
Early one chilly morning, as trooper and family feeder, I stumbled out to the chicken area for the feeding. As usual, I peeked inside the coop to exchange dirty looks with the hens, but they ignored me. Instead a tiny gray head, no bigger than my thumbnail, stared back, covering me with a thin film of guilt. A beautiful little chick. I thought I knew.
rarely periodically jump to conclusions about people and situations. It is the habit that’s hardest for me to break. You’d think I’d know by now that thoughts should be weighed carefully before being expressed, with wisdom and understanding. Giving careful consideration to our thoughts prevents us from acting like or even becoming stupers (short, as most of you know, for unjustifiably stupid persons).