Sometimes, in life, decisions come back to haunt you. Such is the case in our home right now…every time I go to put Baby to sleep. Bedtime, naptime…they both present challenges right now that no mother should ever have to face. It’s all because of one decision made nearly 7 years ago…the decision to let my husband have his way.
He wore me down, really. I wrote a post about it, so, if you wish, you can go back and read all about it. He wanted chickens. If there was one thing in this world I didn’t want, it was chickens! It was the one rule I had when we first moved out here. No chickens. How hard is that? Honestly? Well, apparently it was hard enough, because we did eventually wind up with chickens. Lots of chickens.
Most of the time, the chickens and I keep the peace. They stay out near their coops behind the barn. I do my thing up at the house. I happily eat their eggs and feed them to my kids all year. But, once a year, in the fall, we hatch eggs*. The lucky ones will grow to be replacements for our aging hens and roosters, but many will eventually grace our dining room table. You may be wondering at this point what hatching chicken eggs has to do with my story, but don’t worry…I’ll get there.
The weather in Texas during the fall can be a little erratic. One day, it’s 95 degrees. When you walk outside the next morning, there’s been a cold front that has pushed through (often with plenty of wind damage in its wake), and it’s only 52. Never to fear, it will be back up to 85 by lunch. Chicken eggs require a relatively consistent 99.5 degrees during their 3 week incubation time. With the fickle weather outdoors, that just isn’t possible this time of year…unless you have a hen with an inclination to stay with her eggs. We have plenty of hens, but we have yet to produce a hen that is a good enough mother to stay with a nest of eggs longer than about 3 days. We’re generally happy when they don’t break their eggs…asking one to sit on a nest may be a tall order! So, up in the loft above our bedroom sit two egg incubators.
They have been there, full of eggs for three weeks.
About a week ago, we began to strain our ears, listening for the first little cheeps and pecks coming from the loft. Then, on Friday, it finally came…with a cheep cheep here, and a cheep cheep there…here a cheep, there a cheep, everywhere a cheep cheep.
Now, the eggs are hatching, bringing forth new life to feed us for another year. The kids get so excited, and watch for their daddy to head up the stairs. They know that when he comes down, he’ll be carrying all the fluffy little things that are ready to make the move from the incubator to the brooder in the garage. It’s a wonderful, joyous occasion.
Wonderful and joyous…
…Until it’s time to put Baby down to sleep.
You see, chicks are really loud when they hatch. Their doing it in my bedroom in the loft, remember? Baby’s crib is in our room. So, it’s me, my husband, Baby, and a bunch of hatching eggs. We’re one big happy family!
Here I sit on my bed, nursing Baby (who isn’t really very good at the whole sleeping thing to start with). She drowsily starts to slip off to dream land. I gently get up to lay her in her crib. As soon as her little body touches the mattress, “CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP!” It’s rather jarring, I must admit. Baby is now wide awake, and is not pleased that her mother had the audacity to put her down just as the dreaded sleep monster was about to overtake her. The chickens, sensing my ire, immediately desist.
“Dad-gum chickens!” I mutter under my breath.
I pick up my dear, sweet, non-sleeping child. I comfort her, and she calms down. She’s not hungry anymore, but maybe she’ll settle for a lullaby and some rocking. So I sing a few verses of Jesus Loves Me and Baby is getting sleepy again. It’s time for the dreaded transfer maneuver. I gently lay her down, and she immediately rolls to her side…a sure sign that sleep is coming!
“CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP!”
I want to pull my hair out! No mother should ever have to try to put a baby to bed with a loft full of chicks! Why me?
I’ll tell you why. It’s because I surrendered during the Battle of Chickens way back in 2010. Now, despite the fact that “I wouldn’t have to do anything with the chickens,” I now have chickens in my bedroom…my bedroom! My baby can’t sleep because of the chickens. If you had told me 10 years ago that I’d have chicks in my bedroom, I’d have had you committed.
In a week, they’ll all be hatched, dried, and out in the brooder in the garage. There will once again be peace between the chickens and I. Only the white noise of air conditioner and noise machine will remain in my bedroom. It will be back to just the three of us…me, my husband, and the baby.
Well, until the second batch starts to hatch in a few weeks anyway…
*We hatch eggs in the fall instead of the spring because our winters aren’t cold enough to freeze little chickens, but our summers are hot enough to cook them!