Monday, March 28, 2005

Easter Chicks

In the dark ages when I was a child, parents would give live little chicks to their kids for Easter. In some cases the feathers were dyed different colors, pink, blue, green..etc. My folks got me a chick one Easter, just the plain ordinary yellow one, no dye. I loved that little chick and kept him in a box in my room. His name was Cheep-Cheep, not original but I was only seven or eight. In a couple of weeks he had gotten bigger and Dad had built a really nice chicken coop with space for him to scratch and with a little house for shelter. (He is really good at building houses for animals)

Cheep-Cheep loved the coop; he could run around all he wanted. He was still small and it was still rather cold at night so we brought him in to stay warm in the basement or my room. One night we had to go out to a dinner or church service or something and it was supposed to get much colder. Dad thought he (or was he a she, don't know) would be ok until we got home. As soon as we got in I reminded him to go and get him in. Dad had a stricken look on his face when he came back into the house holding the lifeless, stiff, cold, apparently frozen body of my beloved Cheep-Cheep. It had gotten too cold for him. "Do something!!! Do something!!!!” I pleaded.

So began a resuscitation process of epic proportions. We warmed up towels and wrapped the little chick body in them. Then they had the idea to warm up the oven and put him and his little box in there. I don't know if I would want to be a chicken and wake up in a warming oven....such irony there. We even warmed a little water and put a few droppers inside his beak. And we prayed, the prayer a small child prays, earnest, heart felt, with sobs and very straight to the point....make Cheep-Cheep not be dead. After what seemed like hours, but what I'm sure must have been only thirty minutes or so....we heard a small faint "cheep" coming from the oven. We gave him more warm water and in a while he started moving and "cheeping" and ....... A MIRACLE! Cheep-Cheep who was dead (or at least in a coma) is now alive. Such joy. Needless to say, it was a long time before he ever had to stay out in the coop past sundown.

Cheep-Cheep grew into a fine white chicken. Not fully grown but able to stay outside overnight, he/she enjoyed the warmer weather....until.....that fateful night when a stray cat made its way somehow under the coop wiring and......the next morning all we found of dear Cheep-Cheep were his claws and his beak. I was heartbroken but looking back it was all for the best. If Cheep-Cheep were actually a male, he would have eventually found his way to the Sunday dinner plate...his only hope was to really be a female and perhaps earn her keep by laying eggs.

I think the practice of giving live chicks to kids has all but vanished thanks to the animal rights activists.....thank goodness. It wasn't practical. Maybe it was important to learn lessons about loss and small traumas as a child to be able to cope with the gigantic ones faced as adults. Nah....we can figure out better ways to teach kids about loss and trauma and not have to deal with chickens.

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