Thursday, February 28, 2013

Just Be Nice...or Don't Comment at All

There was an article posted on yahoo this week. A young mother/wife had posted how her little family runs on $14,000 a year. In the course of this piece, she embedded a link that had to do with making your own laundry detergent. I was curious. I followed the link to another woman's blog, saw the recipe, noted that this blog (like mine) is/was a hobby and provided a way for her to connect/learn/grow in sewing/homemaking/crafting/whatever else she felt at the time. It wasn't until a couple of days later that I thought about giving that recipe a shot that I went back to her site...only to discover that she had removed the post and written a brief note about the buh-zillions of new followers that had come from that single link...additionally, some individuals had felt the need to make some personal comments about her writing, her fashion sense, etc...

So, is it that we're not on the impersonal internet that we can hide behind a pseudo-moniker and tell people ALL of the things we observe about them (without their invitation to criticize or offer constructive feedback) solely through pictures and not even about the things that they wrote about in the first place??? WHAT?

Look, internet rules of engagement and interaction should be the same as it is in person. If you can't say/write/comment something DIRECTLY RELATED to the post, then leave the box empty. Otherwise, keep your comments to yourself. Don't comment because you can. Use your sense. If you don't know someone and chances are your comment could be read in a very different NON-HARMLESS context, just keep them to yourself.

Despite uber-connectivity and our new entitlement to upload the human experience, we're still all just that: human. And what a shame that a woman who ventured out to blog about sewing now has to be criticized about her spelling, her wardrobe, what her husband must think of her, etc. No one in a forum such as this should have to go to bat to justify themselves to random strangers. You don't like what I write? Find another blog. Or not.

Yes, we all have room to improve. However, feedback construed as attack is never productive in a positive fashion. Ever.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Being a Chicky Mama

My daughter is 9. She's vibrant and lively and LOVES animals. My husband is new at this dad thing...and most of the time it seems (to me) that she has him wrapped around her little finger. Who complains about candy wrappers? (He does.) Who brings home secret gummy random animals for her? (He does.) SO, it's not so surprising that Saturday night when I came home there were 2 unexpected items waiting for me. One of them really was completely and totally meant for me and deliberate. The other is the foundation for this little post.

Just a word of advice, before embarking on purchasing any living creature for someone outside of your family, PLEASE check with the person, the parent, WHOEVER is responsible for said recipient BEFORE you decide that their world would just be PEEERRRR-FEEECT!!! if you bought them this precious little darling of a pet. I beg of you. I give voice to the wordless creatures that go suffering as a result of negligence and inexperience. My daughter convinced my husband that it would be "FUN" to go to a feed store to see the baby ducks. Just looking, right? Once there, they decided that her little 11 year old friend would surely LOVE a darling little puff of a Rhode Island red chick...and they happily plopped down their $3 and excitedly made their way to deliver their gleeful perfection of a gift. Once they got there, the whole idea was squashed because it wasn't up to the 11 year old, first and foremost, and they already had a handful of pets which made it risky for a SINGLE chick. "Chirpy" was too small to be introduced to their existing coop and would more than likely be pecked to death. This is when logic dawned on my daughter and husband...when they realized that what would have been great for someone ELSE to care for became THEIR OWN responsibility.

We had chickens when we first came into the house we live in now. Let me paint an accurate picture - we live in a residential tract of homes no where NEAR the country. Here there are ordinances about what kind of friendly barnyard animals you can have traipsing in your private's generally limited to cats and dogs...and probably chickens, IF they're female. Roosters and tract homes...yeah, generally they're not friends for very long. Not without angry neighbors and city fines. The thing is, we never got to that point. My husband LONGS for country life. Every opportunity he has to bring it home, he does, bless his heart. He built a make-shift coop and we suddenly had 3 chickens; sprinkles, mowhawk and brandon (the kids each named one). A few things happened. Because my husband is gone Monday through Friday, the chickens became my responsibility. And because we have a 95 pound dog that love everything and ALL moving items, the sharing of yard space was impossible. SO, I became clever at trying to divide the yard so that all the animals could do their animal thing. However, because I work full time, it was not always possible to monitor things. Issue number 1. Next, I became mother hen. They would come to me, follow me, talk to me, perch on was kinda sweet and kinda bizarre. I'm a city girl, folks. Lastly, we lost brandon because a hawk swooped in and took him. In NO WAY am I anti-chicken...I just am staunch about making sure that when you COMMIT to an animal, you're prepared in every way. COMMIT. Do the right thing. Not, oh isn't it cute...oh wait, I don't know anything about taking care of anyone but myself...duh.

All of this is running through my head on Saturday. We CAN'T keep this little bird. The 3 chickens were at a stage where they could forage and kinda handle themselves, but a baby. She needed special light to keep her warm, she needed special mash, she needed LOTS of things. I decided to allow this realization to come on its own, because OF COURSE the general thought was that we could do whatever it took to raise her...right. Ummm...we have a tract house...where ALL of us are gone ALL day...where 2 mature cats and a dog live...where a hawk took one of our other chickens. Who will make sure she's okay? Who will protect her? Who will make sure she's warm enough to thrive (because that's a serious concern when they're that small - only a couple weeks old).

The first night, my daughter decided that she would sleep in the same room as chirpy. Only, she didn't realize that chirpy would chirp the entire night. Well, of course she would. Chirpy was away from all of her siblings under a 60 watt bulb and she was freezing. And the only thing she could do was chirp to let you know. The box was moved into our room. I knew what needed to happen. That bird needed to get warm. At 3am, I asked my husband to see if she was ok (never having the experience of a baby before, this was exactly what he needed to realize the extent of need). He couldn't figure out why she was so agitated. He tried to hold her to comfort her. Finally, I took her. Turned off that blasted white light that was warm, but bright and not warm enough. It was stressing her out and she was WAY overstimulated and disoriented. She needed to feel like she was swaddled under her mama...and I became mama. I used my laptop to the point of warmth and flipped it over. I laid it on my chest and then put chirpy on top of it, wrapped in my hand to keep her warm from top to bottom. I laid there with her pretty much all night...not really sleeping to keep her safe and make sure she was okay and that the computer was still warm. She didn't make a peep until the sun came up.

I had found an article about chick care and read it to my husband. He agreed that we weren't really equipped properly to care for her. I mean, where was she supposed to stay all day while we were gone? In the tub? Gross! I don't have enough bleach. The feed store was closed Sunday and we decided we would take her back on Monday. Sunday was the same, only I stepped in to keep her cozy early on in the night. She had climbed up onto my shoulder and nestled into my hair. Anytime that we held her close she would go quiet as if content. That night, she slept on the backside of laptop again. I gave up 2 nights of sleep for that little chicken. :)

Monday, we did our normal routine. I called and spoke to the manager who asked me a series of questions and said he would look at her to determine if he could take her back. Usually, they're not able to take a return animal. If the animal is sick, they risk the rest becoming so and losing the whole group; however, he and I agreed that given the circumstances, it would be better for the bird for him to take her back. I decided I would keep her at home and stop by after work to pick her up to return her. The minute I came through the door, I could hear her excitedly cheeping. I came into my room and looked into the box...but she wasn't there. She had hopped the box and had been wandering the room all day. Then she was beside my feet. Cheeping, yelling at me "I'vebeenherealldayandIcouldn'tfindyouandnowyou'rehereandyourshoesarereddidyouknowyourshoesarered?I'vebeenwaitingandI'msogladtoseeyou!Canyouhearme?I'vebeenhereallday!I'mhappytoseeyourredshoes..." etc. I picked her up. She quieted. I put her down so that I could go to the bathroom and she started in again...and followed me and stood at the door, this little 3 inch, red birdy, chirping at me. When i went to wash my hands, she stood between my feet chirping and chirping. I picked her up. Gathered the box and got into the car.

I put her into the box. I covered her with a black sweatshirt and she figured out a way to get out 4 times. She got out and tried to navigate her way over to me...and my heart broke. So I held her in my hand, close to my heart and let her be warm in my hand for a few miles. I HAD become her source of warmth and comfort. I had become her mama.

The man at the store looked at her and said I had done well in keeping her healthy. The brood totally took her back in and she blended right in. For a moment you couldn't decipher her amongst all of the other little chicks, but then I could again...that's when he looked at me and gently told me that she was home...and put the lid back on the brooder box. I thanked him...and my words seemed hollow. In truth, I would have loved to have kept deeper truth, she was safer there and the right thing was to give her back to increase her chances to stay alive in an environment that was more fitting.

Yes, conversations have been had to avoid this from happening ever again. Yes, the pet store man went out on a limb for the greater good. Yes, it could have been disasterous had I fallen asleep - that bird could have died!! I know. I see all of the folly in this whole tale. Sometimes we have to do our best given what we have to make things work...even if it's not conventional. The good thing is that what we make-shifted worked out alright.

The serious moral of this tale is that animals are not toys. They're not lifeless creatures that can be thrown away when you're bored with them. When you take them on, YOU are responsible for their needs, for their care, for their lives. Each spring there are countless people who think a chick or a duckling would make the perfect Easter basket accessory...and then these animals suffer because people don't really know how to care for them. Head this advice. If you don't know where they need to live, what they legitimately can or CANNOT eat, and what they need to thrive, you have no business picking one up on impulse. The end.