July 21, 2013 – All week long I worked on carving out the perfect dirt hole that I could chill in under a shady spot in our run. Today, the temperatures were much more pleasant, so rather than dig any deeper, I nestled into what I had already created and took a wonderful noontime nap. As I was rousing, I felt something sharp under my left leg. I rose and squinted back into the hole to see what it was but nothing was immediately visible. A couple of scratches with my foot and I was looking at the tip of a bone! The first thing I did was to pull out a roll of yellow caution tape to quadrant off the area from nosey onlookers. Then, I rushed back to the coop and pulled out my archeological dig kit; toothbrush, whisk broom, khaki shorts and vest, and of course, my pith helmet. Back at the site I dropped to my belly and carefully began to blow a series of air puffs through a yellow swizzle straw above and beneath the fragile relic to remove any loose soil. Then, I used the whisk broom to clear away the compacted dirt which kept the fragment suspended in time. Within minutes, the rest of the bone began to reveal itself to me. It was tiny, most likely that of a field mouse, but I wouldn’t know for sure until I was back at my lab and could view it under the microscope. While on my stomach, I lifted my head to take a breath of fresh air. It was only then that I noticed I had company. Fifteen sets of eyeballs occupied the same plane as mine. I didn’t hear them approach, but at some point news of my discovery swept through the yard. Now, every member of my chicken family and two of our neighboring hens lie prostrate in a semi-circle around the dig site. Thankfully, they observed the DO NOT CROSS barrier and kept a respectful distance. They watched as I gingerly removed the bone from its earthly time capsule and carefully placed it on a specimen tray. They oohed and aahed with the reverence of a golf throng watching Tiger Woods sink a putt at the British Open. I couldn’t resist. I took a pair of tweezers and held high in the air the tiny piece of bone for all the onlookers to admire. It was then that Sadie, our lemon beagle, bounded through the open door of our run, ripped through the crime scene tape and snatched the specimen from my wing. “Thanks, Happy!” she proclaimed. “I’ve been searching the yard for this for two years. What a dope! I couldn’t remember where I buried it. Isn’t it great? It’s a toothpick I grabbed from the kitchen that smells like pot roast!” And with that, she was off. All that remained was an empty specimen tray. Deflated, I calmly put away my supplies and went inside to start a pot of tea. Outside, the crowd swelled in raucous applause. When I poked my head outside, I was greeted with cheers. “That’s the best show you’ve put on yet!” an animated Sawyer exclaimed while those around her began to chant my name. Aah… life as a chicken. You start your day plopped in a dirt hole, and end it being bounced about on the shoulders of optimists.
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