June 26, 2014 – I was in the midst of yanking a good size worm out from under the smelly bush when a lively commotion erupted from the other side of the house. Shortly thereafter, one of the bantam chicks, a dark feathered beauty named Danica, raced around the corner in her tiny colander helmet clutching an equally tiny magnifying glass. Behind her ran a tousled Addie, doing her best to catch up. She didn’t stand a chance.
“Happy!” Addie hollered to me as the chick got closer. “Grab her! She’s not supposed to be out of her brooder without supervision!”
I held out a wing to catch the little hen, spinning us both into a full circle before the momentum wore off.
“Whoa there, little chick,” I said. “Where are you off to in such a hurry? We have safety protocols in place and a baby bantam on the loose is a giant no-no. A hungry hawk could swoop right down and use you as a toothpick!”
“Happy,” Danica explained exasperated. “I am an explorer! I love adventure! I can’t spend all day in a brooder when there’s an entire world to discover! I have things to learn and places to go!”
“Sound familiar?” Sawyer quipped from behind the smelly bush.
How about that? There is a mini-me in this new batch of pullets. I knelt down and looked the small one in the eye.
“Listen, Danica – I get it. But we need to go about this the right way. Pullet camp starts in a few days and I’ll go over everything then. I promise that you’ll get to use your magnifying glass and a whole lot more. You’ll have so much adventure that you may change your mind about being an explorer. In the meantime, let me hold on to that for you. I wouldn’t want you singeing the feathers off your flockmates someday when you’re bored.”
The speedster reluctantly handed over the magnifying glass. “Can I at least have something to sink my beak into before camp starts,” she asked.
Sawyer looked at me and chuckled. I walked over to my nest box and pulled out my Encyclopedia of Entomology.
“Here,” I said, handing her the hardcover. “This is my big book of bugs. Read the descriptions, memorize the images and as soon as pullet camp gets underway, I’ll take you on an expedition. For now, I want you to head back with Charlotte and mind your manners. Understood?”
The bantam baby almost fell over under the weight of the hefty volume, but cheerfully accepted my challenge.
“Thanks, Happy!” She chirped, and walked back to the garage with Charlotte as if she were three feet tall. Charlotte took the time to readjust her string of pearls.
“We’re going to have our hands full this semester,” Sawyer teased.
“We are indeed,” I concurred twirling the little magnifying glass in the air. Then immediately set off in search of microscopic specimens.