How my family discovered that chickens have chickenality

03 pandemic chickens fluffy chick

Tess Taylor is the author of the poetry collections "Work & Days," "The Forage House" and most recently, "Rift Zone" and "Last West: Roadsongs for Dorothea Lange." Views expressed in this commentary are solely hers. Read more opinion articles on CNN.

(CNN)We did not get the chickens because the pandemic was coming. We did not get them to survive what has often felt like the end of the world and has certainly been the end of the world as we knew it.

Tess Taylor
We only got the chickens because we'd been promising the kids pets for a long time and my husband is allergic to dogs, cats and rabbits. When my 8-year-old son developed an interest in chickens, we took the plunge and said yes.
    We agreed. We'd become chicken people. We'd been researching them for months, scoping out the local feed store, figuring out where we'd install a coop.
    We ordered our chicks carefully from a local farm that raises heritage breeds. They were not meant to ward off doom or make a survivalist stance in the face of public collapse, though I admit: I love raising things, and I love a fresh egg.
    Still, as it happened, our four chicks arrived March 20, the Saturday after California governor Gavin Newsom announced a shelter in place order. In a thick rain, a farm delivery truck pulled up in our driveway, and a masked driver passed off a box holding their tiny bodies -- a Buff Orpington, a Cuckoo Moran, an Easter Egger and a Black Jersey Giant, all fuzzy and peeping, much tinier than their breed names implied.
    This was an enormous delight. It was sure to be a grim season. What could be more hopeful than a chick? They were small bits of fluff and claw. We each named one chick: Dahlia, Indigo, Charlotte and Tulip. And as the world closed down and the rains fell, we lit a heat lamp, and made a new home for small birds in a cardboard box in our garage.
    Let me be clear: the world where kids have no school and very little framework but virtual learning and video games while parents work crazy weird hours to keep their jobs is not OK. I like to call the current landscape of raising kids in America "All Children Left Behind."
    It's a world of desperate and stressed out parents, of children losing social, emotional and physical ground. Kids are often lonely and isolated and tweaked out and afraid. Parents have lost the village it takes to raise kids well. My fury and grief about the obstacles facing America's kids is vast.