On Christmas Eve, Unwanted Guests


Photo by Carol Ann Sayle

The dilemma is where to ensconce Boss Chick and her Babes for Christmas Eve.

It's our turn to host the family get-together, the Big Feed, on Christmas Eve. The kitchen will be full of family and food. Boss Chick thinks that is a great idea. The food part, especially. After all, Boss Chick and her Babes live in the kitchen, in a big cage on the kitchen table--unless they are romping in the sun in their outdoor pen. But the weather has been cold and wet lately, so they've spent a lot of time on the table. Near the food!

The Chicks had their first, too measly, taste of mashed potatoes last week, and they thought, wow, THIS is what the Giants eat! When I hold up greens to their cage wall, they rush over to peck them up but when I recently pressed a cold block of mashed potatoes to the wire, they were in a frenzy!! It was like they consider themselves gourmets and want to enjoy even the most exotic Giant food. Actually these mashed potatoes came home in a paste-board box with some other delicacies that couldn't immediately be consumed at one of our favorite restaurants, to whom we sell our organic veggies, Olivia, and once in the refrigerator, the butter in the taters hardened. Boss Chick and the Babes scarfed down about two tablespoons of congealed potatoes before my "mother hen" common sense clicked in and told me they should not be eating such rich food.

They disliked my sudden maternal responsibility, and upon hearing of the upcoming feast, they peeped in heightened disappointment that they and their cage might be (gasp!) removed from the center of the action.

Of course, as you know, most Giants seem to draw a line on chicks and "their ways," as the center piece for the food table. So in deference to that, for the night, the Chicks must move, oh, only six feet or so, to the entry hall. They'll still be able to smell the food, and they might find a soft-hearted Giant who will share a bit of broccoli with them. But their cage will eventually be draped for the night, as chicks, like giant-babies, need their rest.

They won't be the only ones disappointed by the "shunning." Our niece, Amy, flying in to Austin from North Carolina for the festivities, indicates that she would be pleased to sleep in close proximity to the Chicks. But moving the cage to her bedroom might be more proximity than she wants. Of course, when the Chicks go to the perch, they sleep very quietly until the first light of dawn filters through their draped cage. Then the soft peeping begins--the sweet sounds that occur without their beaks even being open. I imagine that Amy would be touched to hear such cuteness so close by.

And in the morning, we'll carry the cage back to the kitchen table, where the Chicks can rightfully be part of any scene.

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Carol Ann Sayle is co-founder and co-owner of Boggy Creek Farm, a five-acre urban, organic farm in Austin, Texas.

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