There was a petting zoo party over the summer. A friend invited you to her house while her little sister celebrated her 3rd birthday. We live in what can only be called a very urban landscape, so when the parents mentioned a petting zoo rolling up to their apartment, I assumed, as most might, lots of guinea pigs and maybe a snake.
When the Ford Explorer rolled up the driveway (parked between two houses that were approximately 8′ apart) and put out two x-pens, I figured, as most might, there might be some chickens and bunnies, maybe not a snake (could slither through the bars) and perhaps the guinea pigs.
What this woman pulled out of this giant land yacht was fascinating. It was the farm version of a clown car. First came the carrier with kittens. Then the carrier of bunnies. So far, so good. Then came the baby chickens. They all went in the first x-pen.
Returning to the SUV to retrieve more animals, she grabbed a couple bales of hay, three big ducks (not ducklings…DUCKS…ducks who were none-too-impressed by the concrete small area, concrete landscape, and urban outdoor activity).
Oh, and then there were the two pigs, Kevin Bacon, and… the other one. Seriously, I forgot because its name wasn’t related to edible pork products in any way, shape, or form. Let’s just call her Karen.
Then came the goat. Tom Brady. The Goat.
He was a big hit with the adults. To be fair, we’re in Boston, so that might not have played well anywhere else in the country.
Assuming this was it, we all (adults, too!) started ooh-ing and aaahing over these little creatures (even the pissed off ducks). Then Tom Brady leaped out of the x-pen, because he’s a GOAT, and started walking up the retaining wall of the neighboring apartment building. He didn’t get far. The farmer got him pretty quickly, then got his friend.
His friend would keep him in the x-pen.
His friend was a 150-pound sheep.
It was the 12 days of Farm-mas in the back of this Explorer. Seriously, this would make one great advertisement.
The farmer showed the kids how to pick up the animals, and talked about which animals couldn’t be picked up. and during this talk, you blocked off the chicken’s crate, and dubbed yourself the “Chicken Person,” or rather, “Jickyen person” because you can’t quite say chicken normally yet. You were not afraid of picking up the chicks, and in fact, the other children (and adults) had to go through you to get a baby chick. You could give a flying leap about the bunnies (baby bunnies), kittens, Kevin, Karen or Tom Brady. You just wanted the chickens.
After the farmer put all the hay, poop, pee, food, crates, pigs, G.O.A.T., ducks, bunnies, kittens, jickyens and the partridge in a pear tree back in the Ford Explorer, all you could talk about for days was how you held these chicks.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving weekend when you met up with my friend Matt, who happens to have a chicken. You and his son, little Max, went outside to play in the backyard. This was the first time in parenthood where I could let you play outside in the wilds of Maine and not have my eye on you for fear a car would come careening onto the sidewalk. It was awesome. For two hours, you and Max played, and part of that play was talking up your Chicken Whisperer status to young, impressionable Max, who opened the gate. The chicken got out.
It took you guys awhile to tell us that the chicken got out and was running freely through the property.
It’s ok, here’s a secret. There are windows, and we saw you guys open the door to the coop, let out the chicken, and wanted to know how long it would take you guys to tell us about the great chicken escape of 2017.
Matt collected the chicken as we left, and took a picture of you holding the chicken, which is really all you wanted to do since
we bribed you with a chicken sighting you arrived to play with Max.
It’s been a few days. The only thing you have brought up (aside from making a note for Santa) is this weird convergence of things in your brain where you have taken an episode of Wild Kratts about poisonous dart frogs (the orange ones are bad) with your knowledge about chickens. Every night for the last four days, you have reminded me that Matt and Max’s chicken is black, and that’s ok. Black chickens are safe.
The orange jickyens are poisonous.
Not the orange, poisonous kind of chicken.
Brains. They are so cool. Also hilarious.