Because I like my husband, we became chicken parents in the Spring of 2021.
It all began on Mother’s Day, when I woke my dear husband by whispering, “let’s get chickens today.” It’s a good thing he agreed because I already hit “add to cart” and “buy now.” Hours later, in a freak May snowstorm, we arrived to collect our bounty at a rural chic rustic deserted serial killer-esque farm. Nevermind the dead bodies vibe, it was a disappointment to learn that the chicken lady knew nothing of our online order. I was not returning to our van empty-handed, not with four hungry children + one dreams-about-to-come-true-husband and the very real possibility that I would be digging our van out from the slushy snow. Therefore, I exited with a cardboard box containing birds that were most certainly not the designer ladies I paid $40 a piece for online. Er, I mean $25. I mean $25 total. Yes, that sounds more like an appropriate amount a sane person pays for chickens. It’s round-down math. Maybe it’s the new math. It’s whatever math you haven’t done.
Anyways, we took those imitation chics home and set up shop nurturing them in our basement. We fretted over enclosures and predators and named the little beasts, because once you name them they’re yours to keep.
One fine day, about a month into becoming certified (or certifiable) chicken keepers, I approached our neighbors ready to spill the egg-cellent news. Their eyes grew wide – like that emoji we all use – and that’s how minutes later I broke the news to my farmer husband, “the chickens have to go.”
A few weeks later, I came up with another brilliant plan: we would get a pet rabbit. We already have two dogs and four boys, but that really wasn’t part of the equation here.
Also I’m a real go-getter who doesn’t like to fail. I WOULD win at wild & weird pets. The math was elementary: impulse + pandemic divides by a quick fix for sad chicken feelings = a surprise flemish giant rabbit.
We named him Duncan because his minder gave me an address that led me straight into a remote Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot, where I pulled my van up alongside her white Lexus, she popped the trunk, I inspected the specimen, I took the pedigree papers, I Venmoed the overpriced dollars, and exited the lot with a bunny in a Costco box + a donut for the drive home.
Naturally, Duncan needed a friend, so three days and another Dunkin’s drive thru exchange later, Nero had joined our family.
Then disaster struck again. This equation added one suddenly sick Nero + emergency vet + more money + middle of the night call = empty pockets and empty hearts.
Duncan gets bigger every day. We miss Nero and the chickens, but we like our neighbors enough to sacrifice a want versus need in the name of community. And maybe that’s the most important name afterall, the equation that matters most, and the one that sticks. The last few months have contained their own set of challenges, as the seasons of life will do. Our neighbors have been there to help, in the small ways that feel big. So I believe, if we share our space on this earth with gratitude + compassion, multiplied by some sacrifice in the name of the We instead of the I, the equation adds up in all the best ways. Just don’t check my work because math was never my strong suit, ok?
C. 2022 Melissa Lipnick
Written by Melissa Lipnick, a writer and artist in Cleveland, Ohio.