I was named after my two grandmothers. My mother’s mother’s name was Emma Jane, and my mom thought “Emma” was a bit too old fashioned at the time (it’s fairly popular now, I’ve noticed), so she just used the “Jane” part, and, I don’t know, modernized it a bit by sticking the Y in the middle of everything. And my middle name is my dad’s mother’s maiden name. If I’d been a boy, I’d have been named after the two grandfathers; maternal grandfather’s first name, paternal grandfather’s middle name.
Anyway, when I was pregnant with Alex, we, of course, started thinking about names.
And we decided, pretty much right from the start, that we weren’t going to name our kids after anyone on either side of the family. We just didn’t want to have to try to balance it all out and not hurt anyone’s feelings with our choices. But of course, that meant that even if we liked a name, we couldn’t use it if anyone in the family, at least anyone within a generation or two or closer than twice removed, in the case of cousins, already sported that moniker. That wasn’t easy, either, but we managed to do it.
Now, I’m not saying one way is better or worse than the other. That’s just the way WE did it.
Still…I admit, it’s kind of nice to know that my name comes from two women in my family, women I was fortunate to know for many years, and whom I carry with me, not just when I fill out paperwork, but in my memories. There’s a connection there. A link. A bond.
So you can imagine my delight when a new bond, a new link, was forged in the family.
She’s one of my sister’s two Rhode Island Reds, and she’s the newest member of the whole chicken family. She’s been around for a little while now, but without a name until Sunday.
Of course, there’s a story.
Back…this past spring. My sister discovered that Large Marge, the hen she thought was a RI Red, is actually a New Hampshire Red. Nothing wrong with that, but still, Meredith wanted LOCAL reds. She was born here, she lives here now, she wanted the local chickens, too. And Rhode Island Reds are particularly good egg layers.
So anyway, my sister got two RI Red chicks to add to the other 6 hens in the family. (At the time those were Large Marge, Big Mama, Wynona, Nugget, Gloria, and The General.) So she got these two adorable Rhody chicks and kept them separated from the bigger gals while she raised them.
She eventually named them. One was Nellie and the other was Veruca.
Well, fast forward a bit to some time this summer. Nellie and Veruca were getting bigger…they went through the ugly phase where they lost their soft chick feathers and the new adult feathers started growing in (it’s like the chicken version of acne, in terms of attractiveness), and they began to look more…chickeny.
Only the thing was, Nellie wasn’t just looking chickeny. Nellie was looking…roostery.
Yep. Nellie was not a girl, he was a boy. And boy chickens, as you may or may not know, are loud. Too loud to have in a back yard. So Nellie went back to the farm and my sister got a new – confirmed female – chicken in trade. Another Rhode Island Red.
And she has been nameless all this time. Every now and then I’d ask my sister if she’d named the new girl yet. Nope. Not yet.
So this past Sunday morning I suggested “Esmerelda.” I wouldn’t name a daughter that, but I thought it might work for a chicken. You can get away with so many more interesting names when you use them on your pets. Anyway, Meredith said no, that was too long. I suggest “Esme.” No. “Relda.” No. I gave up. And then my sister said, “I’ll name her JAYNE!”
I tell you, I got misty.
Okay, not really. First I laughed. Then I asked if she was serious, and she said, emphatically, yes.
Basically the chicken has been named to shut me up, but that’s okay with me.
Later that day the kids and I went down to my sister’s house – kids needed hair cuts, especially Alex – and we hung out in the back yard with the girls.
They’re funny creatures, chickens. You might think they’re just…chickens. But no, each one has her own personality, and the more you hang around watching them, the more you get to see that.
Not sure what Jayne’s personality is at the moment. It’s kind of hard for her – she’s the newest member of the gang, and the older ones, especially Marge and Mama, are quick to remind her where she ranks in the pecking order. She just tries to mind her own business, eat her food, and lay her eggs and get along with everyone.
Kind of reminds me of me back in high school.
Only, you know, without the egg laying part.