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The year of the chicken

2013 will be known at the Avery house as the year we got chickens. Mind you, we do not live on a farm. But after nearly 22 years of being married to Bob, a true renaissance man, I have learned to never be surprised about what comes next.

The next big thing that came on Bob’s radar early in 2013 was the desire to raise chickens – for eggs. I should say for the record that I do not like eggs. “I do not like them here, or there, or anywhere. I do not like them in a house or with a mouse,” said Dr. Seuss, a wise old soul he was.

Bob the Builder
Bob the Builder

Regardless of my distaste for eggs of any kind, my dear husband proceeded with the plans, and started building what was supposed to be a mobile coop. But the problem was it began to get bigger and heavier, all while he was building it in the driveway, in front of the garage.

But finally, after two months of hammering away, and buying more and more supplies (Bob still won’t tell me the final cost of the coop), it was ready to roll up the driveway to its place of glory – my front yard. I sometimes feel a little like Mother Parker, the mom in The Christmas Story, when Old Man Parker proudly puts on display his leg lamp prize.Image Anyway, there it sits, a massive budget-sucking chicken coop full of (insert rhyming word here) for seven very lucky little chickens who took a very long time to earn their keep.


The first birth!

The renaissance man really does know stuff

The chickens were born in May 2013 and came to live with us a month or so later. Every day Bob would check the roost only to find a lone golf ball in the roost. A golf ball? Yes, Bob thought it would show the chickens that they should be making a daily deposit and not the kind that rhymes with coop. But finally on a brisk day in November one of the chickens gave birth to our very first egg! Bob thought it would be fun to keep the first egg – kind of like a business owner who displays the first dollar he ever made in a glass enclosed shrine. We don’t have an egg shrine yet, just lots of eggs – a few dozen every week…..for two people, one of whom does not like eggs.

The kids

Now Bob has gone from Bob the Builder to Bob the Barterer. Yes, he trades eggs. He’s traded eggs for snow plowing, for homemade granola, for firewood, and for fresh bread. I always loved Little House on the Prairie, but never thought we would end up being the ma and pa of chickens.

Raising your parents

If you are anywhere near my age bracket (we’ll just call it middle age) you likely have experienced or will soon begin to experience a reversal in the relationship with your parents. I often said during the 8.5 years that my husband’s mother lived with us that we were “raising a mother-in-law.” We never had children of our own so this was really a first for us in the parenting department. Sure, we have raised dogs, but providing a proper upbringing for your parents is an entirely different thing altogether.

When my husband’s mother moved out a couple of years ago I was ecstatic. I imagined myself to be like many moms who have fresh cans of paint ready and waiting to makeover their kids’ rooms when they finally go off to college.

My husband and I have been empty nesters for two years now and I had almost forgotten what it was like to rear your parents in the way that they should go, that is until a wedding this past weekend that brought many family members together. Everything was going reasonably well until most of us parted ways. My husband was really worried about his dad and step-mom, both of whom are well into their 80s, when they set out for the four hour drive home. The conversation went something like this:

My husband: It is 4 p.m., dad. Do you really think you should be setting out this late in the day?

Dad: We’ll be fine.

Me: Perhaps you two should change out of your tux and evening gown before you leave.

Dad: We’ll be fine.

My husband: Do you have our cell number?

Dad: We’ll be fine.

Later that evening…

My husband: I’m really worried about them; I better call.

Dad: I’m not sure how it happened but we ran out of gas on the way home.

What my husband wanted to say: But didn’t I tell you to always have at least a half tank of gas in the car? YOU ARE GROUNDED!

Photo by Neil. Moralee, 2012, Flickr Creative Commons

I have many stories I can share about those “teen” and “prepubescent” years with the parents we have been raising, but it may be some time before I can share those…you know with the whole protecting the names of the innocent thing.

I hope this post does not seem disrespectful in any way. But what I learned most from raising a mother-in-law those 8.5 years is that without a sense of humor you cannot survive parenthood, especially when you are parenting your parents!

Until next time, live like you mean it!