No, I'm not a nauseating parent or uber-rich celebrity that has begun to refer to myself in the third person. The Abby I'm referring to is the chicken Abby. The Abby of the poultry variety.
As you know, my husband spent the early spring building a chicken coop. The thing about baby chicks, though, is that they can't live in a chicken coop when they're first born. It's kind of like a newborn baby -- you work hard at getting the nursery ready, only to have the little creature sleep in a miniaturized (and padded) bathtub next to your bed. So when our six baby chicks (named after me, my sisters, and my sisters-in-law) arrived at Casa de Diaz a few days after my birthday, they were plunked in a cardboard box. In our dining room.
Over the month of May, they entered their tween phase of life. They lost the baby-fat cuteness. They became scrawny, sprouting feathers in weird places and generally looking awkward and uncomfortable in their own skin. They developed serious attitudes, ganged up on one chicken, and stopped wanting to hang out with us. I think one of them experimented with alcohol (she couldn't hold her head up and she kept hiccuping).
Remarkably, they also began texting like maniacs and we had to take the computer out of their box. You should have seen the stuff they put on Facebook.
Right around Memorial Day, we upgraded them to a large television box, which we put on our enclosed front porch. It was nice not to have a fowl view (PULITZER PLEASE!) during dinner, but the porch positioning didn't solve all our problems. A subtle eau de chicken permeated the house, there was a thin layer of chicken dust covering the porch floor, and the stairs up to the second floor bedrooms landed right at the entrance of the porch. Which meant that we had a noise funnel for all the clucking and chirping and scratching those chickens liked to do.
And let me tell you, those little buggers did not obey their curfew in any way, shape, or form. There's nothing like successfully getting your actual, human children to bed, only to be accosted at 11PM by the late-night raucous of a gaggle of geese wannabes. And when we caught one of the chickens skulking back into the house at 6AM after a particularly outrageous night on the front lawn with a wandering rooster, we knew it was time to lay down some new laws. Foremost among them: you're chickens. Start living like them.
So this morning, inspired perhaps by a slight let-up in the rain, my husband bounded down the stairs while I was making everyone's lunches for the day. I didn't see or hear from him for about 20 minutes, and then he bounded in the side door of the house. (My husband does a lot of bounding.) He gleefully announced "THE CHICKENS ARE OUTTA THE HOUSE! THEY ARE IN THEIR COOP!!"
At which point I did my first cartwheel in 13 years, became so deliriously happy I started speaking in tongues, and passed out cold on our kitchen floor. I was awoken shortly thereafter by a long trickle of drool dangling from my son's mouth. (I had fallen beside his high chair.)
You've been through this journey with me, so it's only fitting that I share it with you. Here's the chicken coop my husband designed and built:
And here are the chickens enjoying their new digs:
So, we're empty nesters, people. Or should I say we're empty roosters? Maybe I should just say we're no longer in violation of numerous health codes and child safety regulations.
Better yet, I think this is the type of occasion befitting of a quote from the venerable Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr:
FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST. THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, WE ARE FREE AT LAST!