When I married a farmer, I didn’t really consider the notion that my kids might be more like him than like me. We had it all worked out. He didn’t expect me to be a *good* farm wife, tending to cattle or driving a tractor or throwing bags of seed (though if you want amazing shoulders, that should be in your workout plan). He agreed to my demand that I never come home to find a deer hanging in the shower or any sort of dead animal that didn’t look like it came from the grocery store. That lasted for 13 years, when I opened my deep freeze and saw bird feet sticking out from under the ground beef, and he “lovingly” placed a taxidermied duck atop my desk where it leered down at me, knowing I wouldn’t touch it to move it.
And then we had kids. Farm kids. They didn’t make any agreements with me about critters in the house, and they can’t comprehend that I grew up in a neighborhood without livestock or wheat. My oldest daughter didn’t seem to understand the concept of traffic on roads until she was school age. Why would she? We don’t have traffic here.
Over the years I’ve had turtles and frogs in various containers in the house. Once, I heard some weird scratchy noises coming from a large Tupperware box that mysteriously appeared on my dining room table. Earlier that day, my daughter had mentioned a desire to start a crawdad farm. These two events didn’t connect in my brain. Yes, I screamed when I peeked into that box to find a dozen crawdads skittering around in what used to hold leftovers from Sunday dinner.
A few years ago, the kids talked their dad into buying them some chickens. They built a coop. They made a nice fenced area for the chickens to roam around. They told me there would be fresh eggs, and I wouldn’t even have to go get them. And then they brought home the itty-bitty chicks and set them up in a large Rubbermaid bin in my living room.
Excuse me, I said. The chickens have a lovely home out there, by that elm tree. Why are they in here with us? Oh, they’re too little to be out there alone now, they said. They need to stay in here, with a heat lamp, for a few days. *grumble*
Now it’s become an annual tradition. When the local farm stores get their baby chicks in the spring, the kids talk dad into going to get a few more. Then they laugh at my abject horror over having livestock in my home. This was Collin’s first year picking out two chickens for himself. He named them Jello and Nathan. They’ve already moved out to the coop, but now Maya has an incubator running in the basement in an attempt to hatch some eggs.
I thought it was all worked out. What I didn’t anticipate was raising a herd of kids for whom farm life is so deeply ingrained. Bringing frogs and snakes and chickens in the house is their normal. I guess it’s my normal, too.