Jane and the New Chicks, part 1
Long, long ago when Jane was a little girl growing up in Dublin, she had a very big family. She had nine sisters and 2 brothers. Her Mum kept hens in their large back garden. The eggs came in handy for breakfast and baking bread and cakes. Also some of the neighbours gave them jars of jam in exchange for what eggs they had left over.
One day Jane's Mum came home carrying a big cardboard box. Dying to see what was in it all the kids ran up to Mum in the garden. Mum put down the box to open the hall door. They all dived to open the box.
"Mum. Baby chicks?"
They craned to see and touch them.
"Mum, can we play with them in the garden please, please?"
"These poor wee things have to go indoors. They need a lot of heat and protection"
Mum picked up the box and hurried inside. They all followed her as she made her way upstairs to the bathroom.
"Now we need the large red lamp that is in the shed. Jane could you fetch it for me and please be careful not to break the bulb."
They all heard Dad as he took the stairs two at a time. Their Dad was full of energy.
"Well girls, what to you think of our new brood?"
He laughed as he scattered fine straw all over our bathroom floor. They looked on astounded. Jane came back with the big infrared lamp. Dad hung it on a string from the window ledge to the doorframe and dropped it low over the straw. After he plugged it in the bathroom heated up quickly.
"Now girls, stand back"
Mom tipped out the little chickens onto the straw. They fearfully crept into a corner. The children were showed how to feed them with chick mash and give them plenty of water.
"We need to keep a check on them until they get stronger."
"What about our baths?"
A cheeky voice from the stairs sniggered.
"I think that's great. I hate baths."
"None of your lip, Jason. We have the tin bath we can use in front of the fire. Two weeks will see the chicks well on their feet and ready for outdoors."
"Time for homework. girls and boys"
"And not one of you to go in there without permission."
She was very strict as she ordered them downstairs to do their homework.
Jane and the New Chicks, part 2
Jane sneaked out of bed after everyone was asleep. Quietly she crept slowly towards the bedroom door hoping no one would hear her. It was pitch dark and she daren't put on the landing light. She heard her Dad snoring loudly.
Reaching the bathroom door she turned the handle and went inside. It was warm as toast in there and the chicks clucked at her. She had to pet them. Sitting down on the warm straw she felt her eyes closing. No harm to stay for a minute, she thought.
"Wake up, Jane. You bold girl. Can you not do what you are told? Sleeping with chicks is not right."
Jane could see Mum was trying not to laugh. It was early morning.
"Your nightdress is all covered with droppings."
It's time to help getting the younger ones ready for school."
After school that day the children couldn't wait to see the chicks again. They hurried home excitedly.
"Mum, I'll fed them."
Racing up stairs followed by Jason they carefully entered the bathroom.
The chicks clucked around their shoes except for two delicate ones that could not stand properly on their little claws.
"I think they are doing poorly Jason. Call Mum quick."
There was no need to tell him twice. Mum picked up the two little chicks.
"I will put you Jane in charge of watching these two. You know they all will not survive?"
The children were shocked.
"I won't let one of them die, Mum. You'll see."
But the two chicks died 2 hours later. Dad put them in a paper bag to bring them downstairs.
"Where are you taking them Dad?"
He looked at us sadly.
"We have to say a prayer over them."
Dad scratched his head. "Please Dad please. I will bury them. Jason will help me."
"Not me, Dad. I'm no sissy girl."
He went off sniggering at me.
Jane took the paper bag gently and went out into the garden. Finding a soft piece of earth she dug a hole to take the bag.
Sarah came up beside her crying.
"May god watch over them forever. Amen."
Jane promised herself not one more would die. Jane was in charge.
Copyright 2007 by Claire Robinson
Claire lives in Malaga, Spain and grew up one of 12 children.
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