There is a baby Barred Rock chicken on my kitchen counter right now. She and her three sisters chirp incessantly while we cook nearby. The arrangement is by no means hygienic.
But it’s adorable.
My middle son and I bought the birds at Tractor Supply Company a week before Easter. We set them up with an electric brooder inside a deep plastic storage bin to keep them warm. That first night, we weren’t sure the fragile little Leghorn, not much larger than an emoji, was going to make it. But there she was the next morning, giving her new family a chipper side-eye. After that nervous transition, the chicks have gained size and strength before our eyes.
Meanwhile, we can’t take our eyes off them. The Leghorn flapping her wings like a happy yellow gif… The Cuckoo Maran standing proudly atop the water bottle, queen of all she surveys… The birds are better than television.
In fact, they’re pretty much exactly like television, now that my kids have rigged a video camera above the brooder, to provide a continuous live-stream.
We selected Twitch as our live-streaming app, because it allows muting of the microphone. (The last thing we need is an open mic broadcasting our family conversations, even though most of our talk lately is about how cute a baby Gold-Laced Wyandotte is.) Our Twitch stream is called “Chickenest,” though, in hindsight, I wish we had named it “Fox Chicken Feed.”
My husband can barely contain his chagrin that we are incubating live poultry next to the refrigerator. And I admit, I may have been short-sighted in the live baby chicken aisle of the farm supply store: The birds are growing fast, while their available countertop habitat is not. We’ve got another month of errant pine shavings on the kitchen floor ahead of us. But the inexorable fact that my fledgling humans will begin to fly the coop after a couple more springs means I’m vulnerable to their whims. If they ask to spend an afternoon with me at Tractor Supply, then I’ll buy all the Cuckoo Marans and Leghorns they want.
I keep a vigilant eye on the “Chickenest” feed when I’m at work. My mom shares the link with the same passion her friends use to brag about their grandchildren. My sister-in-law projects the stream on the wall at her office. My son’s teacher has been known to broadcast a little “Chickenest” during class.
Baby birds are very soothing, bordering on hypnotic.
So if your Month-of-May calendar gets frantic, with its frenzy of commitments and commencements, and you find yourself overwrought by the rites of Spring, I recommend a few meditative minutes of “Chickenest.”
We’ll do our best to keep the live feed up and running at twitch.tv (search for Chickenest), but if we’re offline when you need a fix, there are recorded videos available. Or come on over to Fox Henhouse for a visit. Baby birds are even better in person.