Friday, December 2, 2011



No, don't worry, we didn't get chickens. These are the neighbor's chickens. Urban chickens are all the rage here in Madison but I have the sense God gave a bird louse, and I know that chickens are bad news, no two ways about it. Chickens might be great if you live out in the country, but when you have a postage-stamp sized yard like we do, it makes no sense to devote a decent portion of it to animals that are messy, poop everywhere, and have to be watched closely lest they come to a bad end. I mean, that's what I have kids for. Chickens have all the negative aspects of children, without the tax benefits make the little darlings so appealing.

David was relieved -- very relieved -- to hear that I don't want chickens. For some reason, he was sure that I would want to get some. In retrospect, what I should have done is at least pretended to explore the idea of getting chickens, and then let David talk me out of exchange for getting something I want. "You're putting the kibosh on getting chickens, David? Okay, then how about a third baby instead? Take your time deciding... no hurry...."

We will never have chickens, but thank goodness for neighbors who ask us to chicken sit while they are away. Here are the kids getting out some chicken feed:

By the way, that chicken pecked Baby W's fat little finger and made him cry. I don't blame the chicken -- his finger bears more than a passing resemblance to a worm. But I wouldn't be surprised if Baby W develops a life-long aversion toward chickens. And a life-long love of chicken drumsticks.

I'm always a little nervous taking care of other people's animals. About two years ago, I was taking care of a neighbor's cat while the neighbor was away, and the cat DIED. Granted, the cat was elderly, but it was still a very unpleasant surprise when I went over to feed it and found it semi-conscious. After talking to the owner, I rushed the cat to the emergency 24-hour vet but it died anyway. Now, before I pet sit, I require a veterinarian's certificate of good health and three references. Notarized.

Shortly thereafter, I nearly had a similar experience with a fish. I was feeding a friend's beatta fish while she was away, and the fish was very lethargic and didn't want to eat. Basically, the fish was depressed and had lost the will to live. I was afraid it wasn't going to survive the length of her vacation, but nobody leaves me in charge of a $3 fish and doesn't come back to find a $3 fish, know what I mean? Fortunately the fish's seratonin reuptake inhibitors kicked in and and it perked up. Its survival might also have something to do with the Prozac I slipped into its water.

I'm glad other people living near us have chickens. First of all, I just like the idea of people raising chickens in urban spaces. I also like chicken-sitting because it allows my kids to have fun interactions with chickens with only a fraction of the amount of work that goes along with owning chickens. I hope our neighbors ask us to chicken sit again sometime soon, once they finish getting the veterinarian's certificate notarized.

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