This morning for the first time I went back to bed after taking the chickens outside (they’re still staying in a cardboard box in the house overnight). I wished I could have slept right through instead.
I started worrying. The chickens will need to be let out of their chook house every morning – early in the morning, every morning. And they’ll need to be shut in every night. Their pen will need to be moved around the backyard every day, and maybe more often than that. Every morning, every night, every day, for years.
Every day! Even the days when it’s raining after it’s already been raining for a week and is expected to go on raining for a week more. There won’t be room for an umbrella in the chook pen; even if there was, I’d need both hands free to move the pen.
And how will I move the chook house inside the pen while the chickens are also inside the pen? When the house is rolling, I probably won’t be able to see where the chickens are. They might get crushed.
And what if one of the chickens is a rooster, as I suspect. What will I do? I don’t want to do anything, I don’t want to split them up, but I can’t take a rooster into a backyard pen. How could I find him another home when he’s not even mine to give away, and I don’t know what breed he is? Would I have to kill him? If so, how? It would be cruel to do anything at all, and I don’t want to have to.
And what if I do take the chickens to a new home and backyard, but then I get sick? What if I want to go away, or can’t get home, and there’s no one to let the chickens in or out of their house, or clean their water dishes, or make sure they’ve got water and food? Will I suddenly feel free to ask neighbours for help? Will I trust anyone enough to believe they’d look after the chickens properly? What if I don’t know anyone and don’t ask anyone and then die: who would find the chickens and rescue them?
Should I try to make the chickens go home to the neighbours’ place now, instead, before this goes any further, before I sink any more money and time into the pen, before I sign up to a future that possibly every morning I’m not going to want?
…But then I go outside and the chickens run over to stand near my feet – they run over, helter-skelter, waddling as fast as their fat little bodies can take them. They’re probably hoping for some grain or bread, but also I think they just feel a bit safer when I’m around. I stand there like a tree and watch them and listen to their squeaky peep-peeping voices and feel the sun on my head. When that happens – when everything seems right with the world – it feels like I’m doing the right thing.
It’s good to be a tree for little chickens. There’s nothing better. I’d make a great tree. I could probably live happily as a tree for centuries.
I need more sleep. I don’t want the future. I like the chickens.
Even if I owned some land and had unlimited money to build whatever chook structures and pens I could dream up, I still wouldn’t know what to do about the chickens right now. Because that’s how it is, probably. It’s complicated. Life is complicated. Everything is complicated. I wish it wasn’t, and it is.