Two Sundays ago I was holding Dorothy in such a way that I was granted a rare visual treat, a peek at her neck. With her many chins out of the way I was able to view the necklace she was wearing. It consisted of five ticks who had set up camp in my precious baby's flesh. I plucked them out and rinsed them down the sink drain wishing I knew some good old fashioned curses to place on them and their families. Then I leaned over to scratch at what I believe was my first patch of plant poisoning and spied a tick of my own nestled in my knee pit (that is what the kids call the back side of their knees, I am aware that this is probably not the scientific term for this particular body part but I've got nothing else). I tried to evict the scoundrel myself but couldn't position my tweezers quite right so I whined out, "Airrrrr, I neeeeeed you". In a flash Prince Charming was at my side ready to rescue me. "Can you please pull out that tick for me? I can't reach it."
"That's a tick?" asked the prince.
"Then I'm going to need you to lie down".
Thirty six ticks were in the backs of my legs. Nine were in my right foot. About twenty were in my back, arms, and bikini line. Nothing confirms the importance of the institution of marriage like a bug hunt in your bikini line.
I checked Ariel after that. Not one tick. Enzo and Clara were clear too. Poor Aston had six in his foot. Not a day has gone by since then that we haven't found about half a dozen of the little scumbags on us. Yesterday I saw one on my toe. Then one on my ankle. Thirty one ticks later I was ready to cry.
Ariel, not one to be reduced to tears by anything ever, has decided to wage war on the ticks. He will be the commander and chief of an army of guinea hens. When he told me his plans to get us some hens I was excited (I like the idea of keeping fowl...completes the country living package for me) but I had to wonder if my husband remembered the last time we tried having pet chickens.
Flash back four years with me. It is springtime. Clara is four. She, the twins, and my youngest brother are going to start kindergarten in the fall. My mother and sister have baby chicks at their houses for the first time and I really wish I could too but I know Ariel won't be interested and I don't have the nuts to ask him. Clara, Enzo, and Aston fall in love with the chicks at Aunt Alyssa's house so she gives them each one as a gift and promises that Uncle Mike will come build a house for them when they get bigger so that I don't have to bother Ariel about them at all. Enzo names his chick Rex. Clara names her chick Madilla. Aston names his chick Cheeeeeken. Ariel comes home, finds the box of chicks in Clara's room, makes it fairly obvious that he is less than pleased by leaving the room muttering about "stink" and "more mouths to feed". By the next morning it looks like there is one less mouth to feed because Aston accidently crushed Rex while grabbing for Cheeeeeken. Aunt Alyssa and Uncle Mike insist on mending Enzo's broken heart though and have Rex 2 at our house by lunch time.
Some time passes and the chicks are still in their heated box in Clara's room. The children are enjoying their pets and I am happy we are doing something special with Clara's last moments before I have to hand her over to the elementary school. But one day when Savanna is over playing she comes and tells me that Clara's chicken is sick in the tub. I can hear Clara in her room so I am not panicking. The chicken is nowhere near the tub. I stroll into Clara's room and my serenity vanishes. The chicken is drenched all the way through next to the full bathtub on the bathroom floor of Barbie's dream mansion. I don't normally do carcass removal but these chicks are my fault and not Ariel's so I walk over to Barbie's place while Clara shrieks, "I'm sorry! She was DIRTY!!!" at me. Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle, Madilla appears to be breathing. I instantly figure she must be freezing so I move her sorry tush back under the heat lamp. I hadn't planned on the seizure she started having when I set her down so I'm totally upset and decide to let the voice in my head have complete control over this situation because, let's face it, farmer I am not. The voice in my head must not be a farmer either, maybe it is some sort of day spa employee, because after seeing a teeny baby chick gasping for breath on molded magenta plastic tiles next to a very full plastic claw foot tub the first thing it told me to do was grab my hair dryer. Knowing I was not the boss here I simply followed the order and soon found myself hunched over a little box aiming a purple hairdryer at an epileptic chicken while two four year old little girls watched me intently.
|Madilla and me|
I was thrilled to move the chicks outside when Alyssa told me they were big enough. Not that I would admit it at the time but Ariel was right. They stunk. I set up three hay filled clementine boxes and food and water in an igloo dog house I bought at a neighbor's yard sale. It looked so flipping cozy in there. After the kids and I placed Madilla, Rex 3, and Cheeeeeken in their sweet new home we wrapped the entry of the igloo with chicken wire and secured it with bungee cords. Then we snuggled under our quilts and enjoyed a good country night's sleep.
The chickens weren't old enough to lay eggs for us that first night but I went and checked on them first thing in the morning anyway. I found my chicken wire bent up and nothing but feathers remained in the clementine boxes. That was it. My days as a chicken farmer were over. Until now, I guess. I guess we'll be fine. I mean, it can't go any worse than last time! Maybe the new hens will eat a few ticks before something eats them! We can only hope.