Egging You On
The sign was hand-painted in a quick scrawl; it was legible, but not pretty. Fresh Farm Eggs, Turn Here.
There really was no time to stop, but the little chick painted at the corner of the sign, so much more detailed and exquisite than the haphazard words, caught her eye. At the last second, she slammed on the brakes and turned down the little, meandering dirt road, traipsing its way through the rolling fields of golden wheat.
She looked at her watch every few minutes, wondering how long the road could go on for before arriving at the farm. Finally, when she was almost ready to turn around, the long white porch on the front of the house came into view. Soon she could see the quintessential red barn with white trim, and she had to smile.
“Cute,” she said.
The sun was still on its way up, and if it weren’t for the fact that everyone knew farmers are up early, she wouldn’t have bothered. Still, that little chick on the sign lingered in her mind.
A woman, wiping her hands on her frilly apron stepped out onto the porch, letting the old wooden screen door smack against the frame. Even with the windows up on the car, she couldn’t mistake the familiar sound. So many memories!
“Howdy, missy. What can I help you with?”
“Hello, ma’am. I’d like to buy some of your fresh farm eggs,” she replied in her most polite voice.
“Well, here’s the issue: haven’t collected ’em yet today. If’n you’re up for it, you’re more’n welcome to gather a dozen and I’ll sell ’em to you for half price. Sound fair?”
It had been years since she’d been anywhere near a farm let alone a chicken coup. Her first thought was to refuse and leave, but something caused her to hesitate.
The sturdy-looking woman on the porch must have taken her silence for consent because she bent over, picked up a wicker basket, and held it out to her visitor. Automatically, she reached out and took the basket’s handle from the farm-owner.
“Sarah,” the visitor replied.
“Well, Sarah, if you need anything, come to the back door. I’ll be just in the kitchen. The coup’s around the house there, near the barn.”
Sarah nodded and watched the woman reenter the house without a sideways glance. It was too much like home. What was she doing here? Why on earth did she turn down that road! I should leave, she thought to herself.
She didn’t realize she’d missed this life. Moving to the big city and getting her dream job had been all she’d ever thought about back on the farm. She hadn’t been home in fifteen years. What possessed her to stop here?
She stared at the basket in her hands and gave up trying to figure it out. She’d said she was here for eggs and eggs she would get.
Sarah stiffened her upper lip, which had started quivering against her will and marched around the side of the house, her Prada heels sinking into the mud.
When she came up to the chicken coup, all the old ways flooded her. With deft movements, she unlatched the gate and stepped into the midst of clucking ladies, their gentleman out cawing about the yard in freedom.
She almost jumped out of her skin when an older male voice startled her. “Ah, while you’re in there, miss, would you mind feeding the lasses?”
“Sh-sure.” Sure? I don’t live here. Never-the-less, she set her basket down and took the proffered metal bucket, full of chicken feed. Without thought, her hand dipped into the kernels and other bits. She tossed them about in a perfect horizontal arc and watched the lasses, as the farmer had called them, gobble up the bits.
Sarah set the empty bucket down, picked up her little basket, and continued on her mission. Her watch and the time were completely forgotten.
The little door to the hen house was wedged closed, but with a little wiggling and some elbow grease she pried it back to reveal three rows of nests. One lone chicken sat on a divotted mound of hay, her head down. If chickens could be sad, this one definitely looked it. Sarah set the basket down once again, bent over, and awkwardly made her way to the bereft looking mother hen.
“What’s wrong little lass?” she asked as she stroked the lonely hen’s soft feathers. Chickens don’t talk, but Sarah had always loved the wacky little birds roaming freely on the farm she’d grown up on.
She picked up the perfectly white hen to reveal a perfectly white egg. “Oh, is this your baby? Don’t you worry about this one, Little Lass. I’ll take care of her for you.”
Little Lass clucked at Sarah who took the sound as a sign of agreement. Sarah nodded at the hen and held her warm egg against her heart. She patted the hen once more and left the hen-house. When she exited the fence and turned around, Little Lass exited the coup and went about her business as if nothing had ever been wrong.
“I see Harriet has convinced you to adopt her baby.”
Sarah, startled again, looked sharply toward the voice of a man much younger than the one who’d addressed her before. “Well, we agreed it was for the best.” What on earth am I saying?
“You don’t look it, but I get the impression there’s a farm girl living inside that Gucci exterior. You’ll be a fine mother to that chick.”
“I don’t know where I’ll keep her. My apartment has a strict ‘no pets’ policy.” Seriously, am I having this conversation?
“If you need to bring her back, I can help you take care of her. Name’s Bryan. If you want to give me your number, I’ll call and check on her in a few days.”
The smile he wore, the look of a real farmer, that’s why she’d come. The desire to be on the farm, at home, had egged her on.