The Day of the Backyard Fire and Shrinking Child

Unlike most mornings, this morning I set an alarm. Both girls had their check-ups at 9:30 (both. by myself. both of them. socially angry. screaming. stupid stupid stupid.) which is entirely inconvenient but you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit, right? I was determined to wake up before them to pack a bag full of goodies and entertainment knowing we’d be there for at least two hours. And last week I was still in my pajamas for the plumber’s appointment at 9:30 and the Terminix appointment at 2 pm, so in an effort to redeem myself to society I put on an outfit AND makeup. Boom.

I also had to let the chickens out of the coop, a job ordinarily managed by Clark but due to the death of Babe the Hen the day prior, it was now my duty. She had her face eaten. Yep. Her face. Clark found her bloody corpse lying in the yard like a scene from a Gillian Flynn novel with her compadres huddled silently behind a bush in a PTD stupor. His solution was to keep them in the coop till daylight, which means I have to let them out now, as he leaves the house before dawn. (Sucks to be him.)

This morning was my first assigned morning. I waded through the poop to release them from their den. As I opened the coop door, I was slammed in the face with a cloud of smoke. Oh *&$%. What what what what what what?! Fire extinguishing was not in the job description. I walked to the side of the coop and opened the main door to find the heat lamp lying face down in the wood shavings, the coop completely engulfed in smoke. I couldn’t even see the chickens to see if they were still alive. I opened the door wider to air it out, turned off the lamp, and counted the chickens. The four remaining hens sauntered down the ladder completely unaffected. Wonderfowl. All accounted for. No flames. Close call.

Before going back inside, I left both doors open to let the rest of the smoke escape. And thus sealed the fate of the coop.

Enter crazy. Do you know what it’s like to get two babies ready for a public outing that occurs immediately after they wake up? It looks very similar to the contestants of Supermarket Sweep — everyone sprinting around like madmen, throwing groceries (children and their 9,874 necessities) into the basket (car) in a desperate attempt to beat the clock and win the money. Except that there’s no money. So it’s like that, but not worth anything or fun at all. After getting them both dressed, finding my phone, feeding them breakfast, packing their backpack, finding their insurance cards, refinding my phone, and loading them in the car, I realized the back was full of our recycling, preventing the stroller from fitting (an essential component to a double doctor visit). I took out half the boxes and threw the stroller on top, quickly slamming down the back door before the stroller could slide out. I got skillz.

I am awesome because I was on time. I am not awesome because while I was thinking about how awesome I was being, I never noticed that my BACKYARD WAS ON FIRE.

For the next hour, I sat in the office lobby alternating between YouTube videos, books, stickers, songs, and snacks with Charlee in the stroller and Hattie in the sling. When we got called back, I watched as the panic began to wash over Charlee’s face. She knew this place. This is a bad place. I began talking about doctors and how we play doctor at home and how they’re so nice and they keep us safe. She just looked at me like, “You’re so full of ****. I know exactly what goes on here.”

All in all, it wasn’t too bad. There was only one 5 minute stretch of simultaneous tears. Bad news is that both children are in the 1st percentile for weight (actually, Charlee is 0.38%) and Hattie shrunk an inch. SHRUNK. The doctor informed that this is physically impossible. Go figure that the nurse couldn’t get an accurate read with the murderous screams coming from both children throughout the process.

On my way out the office door, I checked my voicemail. “Hi, this is ***** from the Abilene Fire Department. I’m here at **** Ligustrum putting out a fire in the backyard. I’m thinking this is your home. Just wanted let you know everything is okay, including the chickens. But give me a call when you can.” Fantastic.

My first inclination was to laugh. I mean, are you kidding me? Not only is this the second time since we moved to this house 6 months ago that the fire truck has been parked in front of our house, but they were called to a chicken coop fire in the middle of a nice neighborhood (I can say that because we don’t pay rent, so I’m not bragging). This is more of an “Early Bird Special” neighborhood than a “Backyard Chickens” neighborhood. Our poor neighbors. Watch out for the Clampitts down the street.

I arrived in time to see the fire truck pulling away but the inspector stayed to give me the low down. I headed to the backyard with a baby on each hip, to find this…

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HOOOOO my gosh. That’s a lot of black turf. The charred grass is literally a yard away from our house, less than that from our shed and completely backs up to our fence, all of which are untouched. The fire inspector (nicest guy ever) told me the wind was blowing perfectly. Except for the fact that it was blowing enough to catch it on fire in the first place. But whatever. Thank you God. Thank you neighbor down the street. Thank you doctor’s appointment. Granted, I might have seen it sooner, but can you even imagine me trying to put out a fire with a backyard hose with Hattie in one arm and Charlee freaking out from the doorway? I would have looked very similar to the chickens, I am sure.

And now we’re famous. Well, anonymously famous anyways. Is that a thing? The news crew showed up at my doorstep hours later with a camera. The first words out of my mouth were, “Please don’t interview me,” so he just filmed the damage and the survivors. He then informed me that they’d posted the story to their Facebook page and it’d blown up. Apparently, we were the talk of the town.

Here’s the picture that was posted with the caption, “The Abilene Fire Department is on the scene of a chicken coop fire in the backyard of a home in the **** block of Ligustrum. We don’t know if any actual chickens were involved.”:

Not your average coop fire.

And here are some of my favorite comments:FB comments

I’m sorry to have offended Mr. Egghead himself for having chickens in such a neighborhood. With our egg-cess layings, I might be driving by his house later. Sorry for the yolk-y mess but your pretentiousness needs to be knocked down a few notches.

To finish off the eventful day, we sat on the couch to watch Ched, our black chicken, make her film debut.

And then Clark printed off blueprints for Coop Number Two.

All in all, it was a legendary day. Although, I feel I should apologize to the firefighters for creating a wind tunnel. But to all my lovely readers, be safe and have and eggcellent day. Did you see that one coming?