Being En Guard for much of her life, in her role as guardian for her child living with FASD, it is often difficult for Mama Maremma (MM) to take on the care of any other living being or creature. However, the seemingly perfect opportunity arose just recently, when friends asked if she could care for their two chickens whilst they took a road trip with their own busy youngsters. After careful consideration, only one major risk concerned her….The risk of chickens being continually chased and captured in an ongoing game her child would surely devise!! If this does not sound harmful to you, please close your eyes and visualise the following scene:
- Imagine chickens grazing and pecking peacefully, hoping for a prize catch in a new environment which appears to have so much potential to meet their simple chicken needs. Think about fat innocent worms that have never encountered such a creature & don’t know they should quickly wriggle away; luscious green grass that is the delicious length of pre lawn mower cutting; vegetable gardens that have been carefully nurtured by MM during the winter months and are almost ready to harvest…..in other words, it’s chicken heaven.
- Imagine also MM’s child, observing and monitoring these new and innocent creatures that have so eagerly entered his territory, without a care in the world.
- Now imagine MM’s child stealthily stalking these two feathered comrades. The child is careful, quiet and patient as he slowly lessens the distance between himself and the chickens, proud of his stalking skills.
- He’s almost there….the feathers are within reach, but he’s prepared to bide his time because he knows it’s important to wait until exactly the right moment. Not much longer now……
- Then quickly before any sense of danger is sensed by the cluckers, he lunges forward and secures his prize!! MM’s child captures one of the visitors and is delighted with his efforts.Knowing that stress can be quite harmful to chickens, MM warns her friends of the possible danger their dear pets may be in. But WHAT was she worrying about….her friends explain that their dear ones would be arriving with their own personal home, which they cannot escape from, complete with its own nesting box. YES….this is the perfect opportunity to help her friends and even enjoy some “girl” time.
Before long, the visitors arrived in their cute little home and MM was feeling a sense of nostalgia upon meeting the “girls”, remembering times long ago when she would collect and help her mother wash eggs from their farm, ready to sell. She even dared to imagine adding some feathered creatures to her own family and sensing the joy of collecting their own fresh eggs daily.
So, MM gladly waved her friends goodbye, feeling a slight thrill course through her body with the anticipation of re-acquainting herself with the skills required to successfully care for chickens and her private dreams of establishing her own family of “girls”.
This story could very well end here, leaving you lovely readers with warm and fuzzy feelings, happy for MM and looking forward to hearing wonderful stories of her future chicken farming venture. For anyone who has lived experiences of caring for someone with FASD, they will know that this story could not POSSIBLY end here. Below is the story by the chickens of their visit.
SILKY AND BITSA’S MO
ST AMAZING HOLIDAY ADVENTURE
By Silky and Bitsa (AKA “The Girls”)
Monday: Our people are going on holiday and taking us to some lovely people to be cared and spoilt whilst they are away. We like what we see when we arrive. Yum…our house is sitting on lots of juicy green grass. Our people leave and we are being entertained by a boy singing to us and constantly admiring our beauty. The boy brings us lots of crunchy snails and likes squashing them through the wire of our house. We might reward him with an egg.
Claw Note: We hear the boy’s lady tell him rules about what he is allowed to do with us. He repeats all of the rules back to her and says he understands. What a relief…we’re safe.
Tuesday: A rooster nearby has advised us that it is morning and he is right….the sun has just come up. The boy has also joined us nice and early after learning how to get in through the gate of our home. He is bringing us more snails and lots of other things we haven’t experienced before. The boy’s lady now comes out to join us nice and early too, but soon disappears taking the boy with her.
The boy comes VERY often to see if we have left him a reward in our nest. He obviously doesn’t understand that us girls need our privacy to produce this reward and it simply won’t happen if he keeps lifting that lid!!
The boy brings us much food from his garden, but needs to learn that we don’t like it being thrown at us.
Claw Note: The boy’s lady reminds him of what he is allowed to do with us and he repeats all of the rules back to her and says he understands….again!
Wednesday: The nearby rooster has sent us an early message and once again he is right…it is morning. The boy has joined us again. This morning he exercises us by placing us on our perch and then throwing us into the air. We then quickly flap our wings to land safely. We don’t like this game and Bitsa decides to trick the boy with her reward. The boy’s lady once again comes out to join us, but quickly takes the boy away.
The boy is once again coming VERY, VERY often to check for a reward from us. Finally, Bitsa leaves one, but he’s disappointed after he picks it up and discovers it has no shell. I think the humans call this revenge.
Claw Note: The lady talks to the boy about how he is scaring us (actually…he is scaring us off the lay!!) She says all the rules to him again and he says them back (again) and promises he will follow the rules this time.
Thursday: The boy’s lady has put a metal thing on the gate of our home and he can no longer come inside.
We hear a strange sound on our roof this afternoon and are surprised to see water pouring off the end, but no rain. We see the boy with a bucket of water, tipping it on our roof. He is then delighted when it rolls down and onto the ground. We are happy that he is having fun.
Not long after, we are under attack as water is continually being tossed into our beautiful home and we flap for cover into our safe nest. The boy’s lady comes and takes him into their building.
Claw Note: The boy doesn’t seem to remember his promise from yesterday.
Friday: The boy’s lady is constantly guarding us and we don’t see him much today.
Claw Note: The lady has been busy keeping the boy away from us.
Saturday: The lady is always watching the boy and us, while they are digging in their yard. They must be looking for worms to eat….lucky them.
Claw Note: The boy’s lady seems to be like one of those guard dogs we heard about from our mother when we were chicks. Watching, guarding and guiding.
Sunday: It is early again and the rooster has just sent his message. The boy has come to greet us again, nice and early. He must think we are very hungry, because he is continually tossing us grass, sticks and other bits and pieces. His lady appears and quickly leads him away.
Claw Note: The lady seems to sense what the boy is doing, just like we can sense when a fox is near.
Monday: We have only seen the boy from a long way away through a window so far today.
It is now late in the day and the boy is feeding us our grain with a very unusual technique. He puts the grain in his mouth and blows it into our home through the netting. We then have a race to see who can get it first.
Claw Note: We have noticed that the boy doesn’t seem to remember many things his lady teaches and tells him.
Tuesday: Today is going home day and our people have arrived. The lady seems happy that we are going and is eager for us to leave.
Claw Note: The lady and the boy are like one human. The boy needs the lady to help him think and remember things for him.
The chickens have told the story well. In one week, the warm, fuzzy feelings that had begun to build inside of MM’s heart and the vision she had of caring for her own egg layers, were shut down and banished to the unlived dreams graveyard.
The reality of knowing she is unable to bring to life a childhood memory of caring for chickens is not an easy one for Mama Maremma. This is but one of the sacrifices she makes to ensure she creates a positive environment for her child. She knows that she needs to reduce temptations, stresses and any other triggers known to impact her child’s behaviour and to create the best possible outcome for her entire family.