The Heroic Postal Worker
One of the skills you hone as a feral mountain woman is how to manage April. It's a month of extreme ramping-up on a homestead. Unlike growers who deal with the madness of June here in the Northeast - April is the monster month for small livestock farms. This barnyard was fallow for months. Now it is bursting with new lives, sunshine, and possibilities. It's as exciting as it is exhausting. It's also dirty work and I had some laundry to do. If I put it off any longer I'd stop passing for a human woman.
So I left the house with all that going on inside and I wasn't worried. The chicks were in a brooder with a secure wire cage top. The goats had just filled their bellies with milk and had spent and hour running around - and were now asleep in a dog crate on pee pads. The cats were asleep in an upstairs bedroom, having no interest in watching chick TV with dogs hogging the remote. And Gibson and Friday are adults. I trust them home alone together. I loaded the pickup with a basket of laundry and some Tide, started up, and headed down the mountain.
As I was heading south a small black hatchback came up the road. Seeing other cars on this road is rare to begin with so that raised some eyebrows. And since everyone who lives up here knows the vehicles of the neighbors - this wasn't one of us. The guy inside was making a face usually reserved for telling people there’s a shark in the water. He locked eyes with me and I recognized him, but not sure of from where? He waved at me and stopped in the road. I backed up my truck to meet his window.
“I thought it was you!” He exclaimed. “So glad I caught you, been calling all day, I have your chickens.”
This was a surprise since I had called the P.O. yesterday to check on their delivery and they said no chicks had arrived yet. Confused, I went back into my emails and dug up the note from the hatchery. It said the birds would be delivered on the 18th, and arrive 24-48 hrs later. Okay, so the 19th was the soonest they could arrive and since it was the 18th I had one less thing to worry about today. Yeah! Clean Laundry! Human Woman!
Only it wasn’t the 18th. It was the 19th. I had the date wrong. Let’s hear it for me.
He wasn't able to call me (since clearly it was the 18th), I had unplugged my landline so I could write without interruptions. I also despise talking on the phone to anyone. I'm not alone there, I'm sure. So the calls didn't get through. My landline is rarely plugged in.
But it worked out. Timing is everything, and we caught each other and the birds were just fine. If you never ordered poultry in the mail - know they come in an impossibly little box. This isn’t cruel,—as the birds themselves are so small three chicks can fit in the palm of my hand—but shocking when you know the space 25 adult hens take up. It's a time-travel clown car, chicken post boxes.
They also aren’t starving or suffering in the post, since they JUST came out of their eggs with a full yolk sack. You can read more about the safety of shipping chicks here, if you are interested.
I thanked the postal worker profusely, who had decided to deliver them himself after his shift instead of letting them spend another night in the travel box. (Talk about a good guy.) I turned the truck around and put the new plucky birds in the brooder with the Silkies (who seemed pissed about their spacious digs becoming a nursery) and made sure everyone had food and water and a warm place to tuck in.
Then I did head off to my friend’s home to enjoy some human company and do some laundry. Because managing April is a task I get better at every year, and it deserves clean sheets.
(I will be baking a pie for this post office.)
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