Once we realized sleep was not going to happen, we let the dogs out and tried to find the two cats, Gary and Salad, to put them in their crates. We tossed the last of our belongings into the truck, realizing we didn’t even have room for our food bag. Eating was the last thing on our minds anyway. It was time to get the chickens.
We had large bins with wire tops and a ventilated truck bed to take them. Most bins had two hens in them, but some had three if they were smaller. We also had to incorporate two roosters in the mix, including one who is testy. That part actually went quite smoothly. We had a good plan, but they didn’t like it.
“They’ll be fine in a few hours,” we all said blindly.
After catching all sixteen chickens and putting them into their bins, making sure the grouping made sense depending on their individual personalities and attitudes, we taped the wire on top, packed them in tightly within the cap-covered bed of the truck, and took off.
Our left turn out of our driveway and onto Wolcott Road to a different life was taken with no words. We never looked back at our family home, never said a word to each other, and there was no music playing in the truck. We just left. The only noises were the dogs panting, thinking they were going on a short ride to somewhere fun, the air coming from the vents, and our cats who sat in between me and Sammy crying for us to let them out. We lingered without individual thoughts, knowing if we shared any, it would unleash it all. It was dark outside, and so was the house. Roger’s wooden urn sat on the hump in between the two front seats.
We found a rhythm and drove past the “Welcome to Connecticut” sign, again with no comments, and through New York City, and pushed through the darkness into light that met us in New Jersey. When we felt safe, we stopped to check on the chickens and let the dogs stretch their legs and use the grass. Some chickens were panting.
“It’s not even hot,” Sammy and I both kept saying.
“Is it just stress?” We had known chickens to pant from being stressed, so we gave them some dried worms soaked in water and hurriedly continued our drive, knowing we had to get to our new place in NC as fast as safety would allow.
As I was driving, the junk removal guy, who was there a day late to pick up our trash and treasures in the front yard about an hour before the new owners were to walk through before closing, called me.
“Well, one load won’t do. We’ll have to do two,” he said. “The first payment will be $1150.”
“Ok, call me when you are done. If you send me a photo, I will send you payment via Venmo.”
The boys rested while I drove, and after we passed the sign that reads “Virginia is for Lovers” I began to feel relief thinking it would all be OK and we would make it safely, then we stopped for gas. I remember the time we had on the GPS said 4:46 left. We checked the chickens again, and Sammy got really worried because they were still panting.
“There’s nothing we can do,” I said. Frantic, I took a hammer I had under the back seat and attempted to smash out the back window of the truck thinking if we sealed up the cap-covered bed, we could blow the cold air conditioning into it. I could not. “Fuck!” The thing is, the back wasn’t even hot but I was losing it a little. It was stress which was making them pant which was freaking us out!
Barbie, our Dominique hen who we called our lap chicken, kept trying to jump out to get to us, and Becky, who was terrified of the process, was doing the same.
While we were trying to come up with a plan, the junk guy called me back. He wanted more money or he wouldn’t pick up the rest. The minutes to closing were vanishing, so I had to deal with that. The area we were in had no service. Baylee and I went into a gas station bathroom to get some water bottles and push pops for the dogs. We gave the chickens more water-soaked mealworms.
“We need to move the chickens,” Sammy said.
“Where to? We have no options,” I answered, trying not to cry.
I tried and tried again to Venmo the guy his thousands of dollars, as we proceeded to trade Sammy and the dogs for the chickens in their bins. Yes, I said that.
Max was in the back seat with a chicken bin on his lap, and next to him were more bins stacked in a way that they would get fresh air. Doo and I were in the front seat with a chicken bin between us in the front. Cats in their crates and a bearded dragon in his box were scattered around amongst us and the chickens in their bins.
Sammy was in the back of the truck under the cap with the three dogs so he could gauge the temperature, which never got too warm for them.
Venmo finally went through, and we were on our way to our new home, which was not officially ours yet. As we made our way, I prayed for the closings to go smoothly.
In a short time we had news of both closings. My attorney in Massachusetts called and said it all went well, and also Tyler called. “Closing is done. I have the keys!” What a relief. I began to feel hope.
We turned on quiet music and started to look forward and become excited about our new place. I could not wait to see Tyler and finally meet his love, Deaven. We laughed at Din, our Silver Spangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben who kept crowing.
Welcome to North Carolina. We surrounded ourselves in clouds of foolish hope as we thought we were in the clear. We had just over two hours to go until we were home.
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