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They Came!


They came! They came, they came, they came!!!!


On my way home from taking the kids to school, I stopped by the post office to see if I had received my eggs. It was only 8am and I know the mail comes around 10, but I couldn’t resist checking.
Vicki, the postmaster said, “I guess you got my call.”
“You called?”
“Of course, we know how much you are looking forward to getting your eggs. They’re here. We wanted to let you know as soon as we could.”
I thought that so sweet. She called.
Then she handed me another package from Amazon and said, “And I suppose this is a book on peacocks, knowing you . . . unless it’s just another college book. How’re your eyes doing with all that reading?”
It happened to be a book on peacocks. But this comment made me smile too. “Knowing you?” Ha. I lived in Sarasota eighteen years, and in all that time, I don’t think the postmaster knew my name, much less knew my interests and passed the time guessing what was in my packages.
This is what I love about living here. Intimacy in everyday exchanges. In a quiet place like this, people not only look into your eyes, they do so with warmth, humor and interest. And they celebrate who you are without critique, jealousy, or boredom. “Nice” is more than a word – it’s a state of being. 


Vicki told me her neighbor has a peacock. They raise turkeys and keep them all in a big cage. One day, a peacock just showed up on the lawn. He had his tail spread wide, a glorious sight. He was trying to get IN the turkey pen, so they opened the door and in he went. Been there ever since. Guess he had wandered off from wherever he was raised, but once he was out on his own, he missed companions. That, or he has low self-esteem and he wanted to hang with some uglies so he could feel better about himself.  Nothing sadder than a peacock with low self-confidence. 


I took the eggs home and immediately took a picture for the blog. (Like my little display? Obviously, I’m excited to show off my new hobbies. How queer am I?) It was so interesting unwrapping the eggs. The white peacocks came in brown eggs and the blue peacocks are nestled in the lighter colored beige eggs. Who knew? They are bigger than any jumbo chicken egg you’ve ever seen, and weighty. Substantial. Yet fragile. The package contained my two white peafowl eggs and two blue peafowl peacocks. Then I see that the sender threw in a bonus egg for fun. A black shouldered peacock egg. I was so thrilled at this special gift, I can’t tell you.


I took the eggs downstairs and decided to give them a few hours rest to settle before putting them into the incubator. I drew happy faces on one side – the other has the color description written lightly in pencil.


I went to clean my daughter’s room. I was planning to take her rug outside to shake it before vacuuming. The door must have been open for three minutes at most. I walk back in and there is my dog with this totally guilty look on her face. I immediately know she is up to something.
In my most ominous voice (the one I once used only for dancers that don’t pointe their feet) I say, “Maxine, what do you have?”
The dog lowers her head and drops a peacock egg at my feet, ever so gingerly. I yell big time and the dog slinks outside. She knows she has done wrong (not that that ever stops her from mischief). I crouch down to see she had carried off one of the coveted white eggs. Damn dog. But it doesn’t seem to be damaged in any way. Not cracked to my knowledge. I’m pretty amazed, (lucky) so I take the egg back to rest with the others.


I decide to finish putting the rug back in Neva’s room, and there in the middle of the floor is another peacock egg. Apparently, my dog was planning to carry them into the room where her bed is, to store for later use or something. Maybe she wanted to hatch them herself.
I swear like a truck driver, then bend down to inspect this egg. This one has a small crack in the bottom. It’s my special black shoulder egg. Granted, I didn’t even know I was getting this egg a half hour earlier, it was a bonus, but still, I’m devastated by the loss. For a moment, I wonder if I can put tape on the crack or something, but I know that once a bacterium invades it won’t survive. Dammit.


I put the intact eggs in the incubator, feeling sorry for myself. I am now mumbling angrily, thinking negative thoughts that I suspect are inspired by a lot more going on than this egg project. I’m thinking, “It is always the innocent that ruin something special, they act out of sheer enthusiasm – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t’ guilty when they do things on impulse and destroy the promise of a bright future!”


Then I catch myself having this bad attitude and I do a readjustment (this all happens in about ten minutes.) I think about how, if two years ago, someone had told me that on this very day I would be in a beautiful cabin in the mountains (always wanted to live this way in nature) yelling at a big dog (always wanted a big dog) for stealing one of my peacock eggs (never wanted a peacock back then, but I would have thought the idea grand if I’d given it a thought), well, I would have laughed. I would have found the idea of a beloved dog carefully walking around with a peacock egg in his mouth and dropping it at my feet with such a look of profound guilt and remorse, rather entertaining. And that got me smiling again.


It put things in perspective. Really, what did I have to be so mad about? I had a free egg for a half hour. Oh well. It could have been worse. I could have walked into the room and seen my dog smacking her lips having consumed the lot. I decided to be thankful for what I do have rather than mourn what I almost had. Gotta trust that what is meant to be is meant to be.


This morning, I went to the post office again to find the other two peacock eggs arrived as well as my duck eggs. E-gad, I didn’t think I’d get them all at once. So, I put them all in the incubator for now. I will probably have to get a second incubator for the duck eggs considering they will hatch on a different day (9 days sooner). Otherwise, bacteria from the new ducklings can spoil the peacock eggs still developing. But I will take a day or two to think about it first. Might have a more creative solution.


The duck eggs are white (I expected blue) and the size of jumbo chicken eggs. I unwrapped them carefully, putting a smiley face on one side and the word “duck” on the other. Not like I’m going to forget what I’m hatching – but I have a system now. As I unwrapped the last three, I noticed a slimy surface. I kept checking to see if the eggs were cracked, but they seemed intact. The last egg turned out to have a hole in the bottom. Poor devil. I guess this one eeked onto the others. Now, I didn’t know whether or not to clean the eggs or leave them slimy. I don’t want to invite bacteria into the incubator with spoiled egg slime, and yet I know eggs are laid with a film that protects them so I don’t’ know if I should clean them. I decided to wipe them off with a soft, dry towel. I put a frowny face on these eggs so if they don’t hatch, I’ll remember why. It is all a part of experimentation, you see.


Speaking of which, Neva and I decided to allow the chickens to keep some eggs to see if the hens will brood and raise some offspring on their own. This would give us the full spectrum of scientific study and more springtime fun. We see six eggs gathered in a nest so far, but neither of our brood hens seems ready to take responsibility to start sitting. Lazy girls. Neva lectured them sternly about their role on this earth, but I don’t think they paid much attention.  


And while I’m on the subject of birds (I swear I will talk about something else soon.) I will tell you that yesterday whatever it was that ate a chicken the night before had returned, burrowed into the coup and eaten another chicken. This time poor Jasmine (this was from Neva’s Disney named crop of chicks) became some animal’s dinner. I was faced with another carcass in the pen and boy, was I pissed. I put on my army fatigues, my Karate Kid headband and a pair of dark sunglasses and tromped off to Home Depot to look for chicken defense apparatus. This was war! (Not really, I kept on my running clothes, but the other image was a better description of my mood. Dramatic effect, don’t ya know.)


I ended up buying some fencing meant to stick into the ground to edge gardens. But when I put this around the pen, it looked stupid and inadequate. A mouse could burrow under that flimsy stuff. So I recruited Kent and Neva’s help and we gathered rocks – big, heavy rocks. We stacked them all around the coup where we believe the creature got in.  Today, no dead chickens. Just goes to show, you don’t want to mess with me. I rarely take an attack laying down.


The chicken fatalities are not a bad thing to deal with, however, because it reminds me there are dangers to consider when raising birds. Now, when I go to build a peacock pen (assuming I will successfully rear a bird or two or six), I will be wise enough to dig it 2 feet into the ground for extra security. Having disappointments in life is no big deal if you LEARN from them. At least, that is how I come to terms with my tiny hardships.


Enough about birds. I just thought you might like to know I’m cooking up some future fun right now. Six peacocks, eleven welsh ducks, and one little bannie chicken. All I need now is a partridge in a pear tree!


 

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

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