It is easy to take earth for granted.
Who thinks about the solid ground beneath their feet?
Not I. Not often.
On Saturday we brought home two young hens from a market where they had lived in a wire cage ever since hatching. One chick, Sally, is missing some tail feathers. We guess it’s from sitting on wire. We transported them home in a plastic storage bin with the lid ajar before taking them out back to the chicken coop which sits directly on grass.
Peck, peck, peck.
Both girls eschewed their food and water for the first two hours as they lay on the grass, a heap of breathing feathers. I sat beside them, a bit worried. I knew they were the luckiest chicks at the market. I knew we would give them a great home with kitchen scraps and lots free roaming time. Our love was waiting at the ready for signs of life.
The three chicks we had gotten six weeks earlier were thriving. In fact, these two new hens were there to replace two roos. We got our first batch of chickens when they were so little that their sex wasn’t apparent. Sadly, we aren’t allowed to keep roos in our suburban community. We had an arrangement with our original chicken farmer to exchange them, but he was out of hens by the time the telltale combs poked out of Midnight’s and Sunshine’s heads. We could wait another three weeks, or return the roos and get hens at the market. We chose the latter.
But the new chicks just lay on the ground, not eating and not drinking on a hot day.
And then— cock-a-doodle-doo— it dawned on me: this was the first time the new hens had ever felt earth beneath their feet!
The grass and dirt beneath them was a new sensation, but it touched some primal instinct. After several weeks of life, they finally made physical contact with their planet. Earth, earth. And when one finally returns home after a long ordeal, the first thing we always do is collapse in relief. Earth, home.
Sally and Daisy rested for two hours on the grass before rising, finding food and drink, and gazing at their new surroundings.
Soon they peeped and turned their eyes skyward, looking sunny-side-up, at their new life
on earth, with us.