Sunday, March 16, 2008

Where the Boys Were

It was a wild Spring Break for the Thumpster and me this week. We babysat his cousins for two full days, and Lord knows, time with the cousins always qualifies as a wild time.

Thumper's Seven-Year-Old Cousin lost a tooth the last time he was at our house. No, I didn't punch him in the mouth. How could you even joke about something like that? It was loose, and he pulled and twisted and poked it at while we ate lunch and I suggested various sudden and violent ways to remove it.

The next time I saw him, I asked if he put it under his pillow yet. He asked me if I knew that in Africa, they don't put them under pillows, because they don't have pillows there. And they don't get money. I didn't know that, and I wondered what they do get. Chickens, he informed me. They get chickens. I asked him if he'd rather have money, or a chicken. A chicken. Definitely.

So I mentioned that I know someone who has chickens. BFF has a piece of property in (what seems like to me) the boonies. It has no deed restrictions, and he keeps 21 chickens, 2 sheep, and a goat. I call it the Farm. I told Seven-Year-Old Nephew about the chickens. He wondered if BFF would sell him one.

So anyway, we went to the Farm this week. It was successful beyond all of my expectations. First, Thumper napped long and well. He sometimes has trouble napping at other people's houses, so the napping was greatly appreciated and made everything else that much easier and more pleasant.

Second, the niece and nephew... You know, I should give them appellations for this site that are shorter and more descriptive of them than Nine-Year-Old Niece and Seven-Year-Old Nephew. So I hereby dub Nine-Year-Old Niece "Freckles," and Seven-Year-Old Nephew "Robert McGee," for cryptic reasons known only to myself. No, I won't tell you why, unless you ask me in person.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Freckles and Robert McGee absolutely loved the Farm. At first, they spooked the chickens, and the chickens spooked them. But ultimately, they (what, harvested? Recovered? Picked?) nine eggs from 'neath a variety of chickens and washed them. They lamented that there weren't more to wash. BFF lamented that he'd already washed all the eggs from the day before. They fed and watered the chickens. And the sheep. And the goat that may or may not be pregnant by Immaculate Conception (the only males living on the Farm are BFF and his one rooster, yet she's as wide as a house and has developed udders). The asked every ten minutes or so if BFF thought the chickens had laid any more eggs yet. He felt sure there might be one or two more by the time we left. Then they lamented that there wasn't more work to do. So BFF, not quite believing his luck, suggested that they could shovel sand from one end of the property and wheelbarrow it to the other for a building project he's working on. They were delighted! So was he!

On the way home, Freckles pontificated about the limited appeal of manual chicken farm labor. "That was so much fun," she said. "I mean, just every once in awhile. I wouldn't want to do it every day. I don't really like work very much."

So BFF paid them for their labor by letting them pick out a dozen eggs each from his refrigerated stash. One included all of the eggs they had pulled from the coop themselves. In the end, Robert McGee never did get his chicken. Social Worker Sister-In-Law told me he could come home with a sheep, but not a chicken. She never provided the funds to make such a transfer of livestock happen, though, so I don't think she was very serious. But I have them again all day next Friday, so who knows? Maybe by then, he'll have talked her into it.

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