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Small joys



Yesterday, I found my first home grown peacock egg. I was delighted!


It was one of those days when you swear your entire existence is orchestrated to serve others. I’d spent the first half of the day tending to my mother-in-law and taking her to see the new assisted-living facility that will soon be her home. The afternoon was designated to parenting duties – school pick-up, soccer practice, grocery shopping, cooking dinner. And in between I had this little sliver of time where I had to squish in all my own personal chores. Of course, that meant feeding the animals, because they have needs which are up to me to fulfill too.


After feeding the horses, donkey and llamas, giving the rabbits water and feeding the new chicks holed up in my barn, I checked the nesting boxes for eggs. After a pack of wild dogs spent a week ravaged my flock and killing over a dozen chickens, I decided I had to leave them penned in over the winter to preserve the few fowl I had left. I now have an odd collection of six chickens and five guineas (and two peacocks, of course.) This makes egg collecting a fun game of connecting eggs to their founders. I get small brown, pointy eggs with sandpaper shells from the guineas, one big, fat white jumbo egg from my scrawny, never-miss-a-day leghorn (gee, I miss the others), an oblong white egg that I’m pretty sure comes from Curella, my mop-topped chicken who served as a buddy to the late Early (my first peacock), a big, dark brown egg from my Rhode Island Red, a large, light brown egg from my only surviving cochin and some lovely little brown eggs that have finally started coming from my ugly, obnoxious game chickens (don’t ask me why I bought them – an impulse purchase at the flea market one day. And don’t ya know the dogs can’t catch ’em – they only target the chickens I adore.)


Anyway, yesterday, I collected six mismatched eggs. Reaching into the last nesting box, I wrapped my hand around a fist-sized egg that had extra weight. I smiled, knowing immediately what it was. We are all the sum of our experiences, and while a year ago, I wouldn’t have had a clue of what this egg was (I might guess, but I’d still have doubts, because for the life of me, I have no clue of how that big bird fit into a tiny chicken sized nesting box) I now know without a doubt this is a peacock egg. Right size. Right color. Right weight. Right, right, right! Which goes to show that even when we fail at our goals, we gain something in the process, and someday, somehow, that collective knowledge will serve you. Thanks to my failed attempts to hatch peacock eggs (two batches, mind you), I’m very familiar with them now. I also know just how delicate the peafowl chicks are and how they can’t stand cold until they are over 6 months old and …. well, I’ve had many painful lessons on my way to becoming peacock proficient. But I feel rather peacock savvy now.


The egg is most likely fertilized because my male has his tail opened about 90 percent of the day showcasing his amorous nature, and he is on top of Palate (my girl) about once an hour. That is quite a sight, for your information. A peacock male “does it” with his tail still open. And when he is in the throws of ecstasy, he starts vibrating, and that tail makes this loud swishing sound as it shimmy and shakes. It’s as if an earthquake is beneath him (when really, it is just his smiling girlfriend). I know its impolite to watch a couple in their private moment, but I can’t help but gawk every time I see the two of them going at it without a care of who or what is watching. Their lack of inhibition is admirable and when Prism opens that huge tale, he is a glorious sight . I’m expecting my chickens to start throwing rocks at my rooster any day now.


I figure, since my home grown eggs don’t have to sit around waiting for an e-bay auction to conclude, then be packed up and shipped off, traveling hundreds of miles, braving the x-ray machines and all that jostling, nor are they laid in a pen full of peacock females that may or may not have been visited by the local male, they will have a far better chance at hatching. So I’m going to set up my incubator and put this puppy inside and do the “turn it four times a day” thing. Hopefully, I’ll find a few more peacock eggs this week to increase my chances of success and avoid lonely baby peacock syndrome if they do indeed hatch. If the eggs don’t hatch, nothing is lost and I don’t have to see that look my husband gives me when I throw out the eggs – it’s a look that screams “how much did you say you spent on e-bay for those dead eggs?”. If the hatch is successful, I can nurture another baby peacock or two and gloat about how practical I was by purchasing two peacocks instead of one that fateful day at the flea market. Considering I am forever trying to justify my interests and brainstorming ways to not use family resources to support my fun, this egg is significant.


I’m stuck in my sister-in-laws house for ten hours today, caring for my mother-in-law. I don’t mind being here – but I confess, all the things I’m not getting done are swirling in my head, making me antsy. But knowing I have a peacock egg at home, and perhaps another will be nestled in that hen house when I go feed my flock at dusk, offers a glimmer of the joy life can offer if you consider the tiny gifts hidden throughout even a tedious day. Happiness is often a matter of focus. Little things count. Celebrate them.





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.

16 responses »

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