Sneaky.

I always seem to get animals that have some sort of personality issue.  I was going to write “disorder”, but they aren’t really problems, they’re just….eccentricities.  Or, as my husband likes to call them “WEIRD”.

For example, I used have a show horse named Apollo that was the son of a world champion Arabian stallion.  Apollo was big and goofy, was afraid of mushrooms growing in the arena footing, and when we went to horse shows, he would get all freaky and need to have his tongue held.  No, no, you didn’t read that wrong.  He wanted me to hold his tongue.  He’d stand in his stall at the show with his tongue hanging out and he’d push his face against you until you held his tongue.  He’d then sigh deeply and close his eyes half-way in relief.  So there I’d be…standing next to the stall holding his tongue.  Son of a world champion…complete wuss.

We have a variety of dogs with odd behaviors too.  One insists on chewing on the strings of your workout pants and will basically drive you INSANE until you either change pants or give her what she wants.  This is why my pants that are supposed to have draw string waists, don’t have draw strings anymore.   Another not only insists on being carried to bed (thank goodness she’s a chihuahua) but then when you put her on the bed, she drags her back legs around like she’s paralyzed.  Not a thing wrong with her.  Just WEIRD.  I could go on, but you see where I’m going here.  We have our own little animal “group home”.

This morning (Monday…ruining my life since 1964), it was incredibly hard to get out of bed.  It’s only because I had to go to work which instantly saps me of any shred of motivation that I might have had left over from the weekend.  I walked around and drank Diet Pepsi and whined for a while and then figured that since there was no giant snowstorm predicted (that’s the only reason work would close and tell us to stay home) and the likelihood of one forming in ten minutes in 72 degree temperatures was remote, that I’d better get hopping if I wanted to make it to work by my usual 20 minutes late.

I scuffed out to the chicken coop, because I KNEW that they were in there standing and staring at the door to the run and wondering where the hole went that they normally went through to get outside.  I don’t think they completely comprehend the concept of a DOOR.  Yesterday while I was cleaning the coop, I locked them all outside and they stood there dumbfounded that the HOLE was gone and pretty soon they were all trying to stand on the ramp and pecking at the door itself as if that was some sort of chicken “OPEN SESAME” trick.

It was another gorgeous morning here, a few clouds, perfect temperatures, nice breeze.  I was sort of enjoying the short walk to the coop.  I’m sure the neighbors were enjoying it too because I was wearing black and white leopard print pajama shorts, purple Crocs and a Jimmy Buffett t-shirt.  I like to think I’m their morning comedic relief.  I sort of see it as a public service.

Anyway, the coop doors were all closed and locked, the run was empty and I always check for evidence of predators trying to get into the run or possible holes they may have made trying to get into said run and everything looked pretty good.  The ground surface of the run looks like the surface of the moon after being scoured by 12 chickens, but I told them they had to make the weeds last, so if they chose not to listen, not a thing I can do about that.  They were warned.

I opened the door to the coop and my jaw dropped.

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When we built the interior of the coop, we built a four-foot fence to separate my little work and sitting area from the area where the chickens hang out.  They’ve been out there for several weeks now and everything has been going very well…except for the preponderance of wasps or some sort of flying bad thing that seems to think the rafters of the coop would be a great place to set up shop for a nest.  I’m totally getting a Waspinator…look it up on Google…I had no idea…again someone is raking in tons of cash from an oddball invention, while I slave away in my office and losing every hint of color to my skin.  Anyway, nothing has been bothering the coop.  That wasn’t what I found when I swung open the door.

I unlocked the door, swung it open while singing “GOOD MORNING!” in my high-pitched chicken voice (the neighbors ADORE me) and there standing on the rail of the four-foot fence, looking EXTREMELY proud of himself was Vinnie…that darn Barred Rock.

Remember how the other chickens can’t even figure out how to get to the roosts and we went through “Roost School” (read the whole blog…it’s in there) one night?  Everybody kept falling off and acting like they were 100 feet in the air instead of just TWO feet?  Yeah.  I remember it.  That’s when I thought that perhaps I’d gotten a group of chicks that had been deprived of oxygen in the incubator at the hatchery.  You know, the hatchery worker just said “OOPS!  This group is going to be extra-stupid, but no one will know the difference because…well…chickens aren’t rocket scientists to begin with” (although it’s rumored).

Anyway, Vinnie strutted back and forth on the rail while I stood there with my mouth hanging open.  He fluffed his feathers, stretched one wing and foot at the same time, and whistled and chortled happily like he’d done something REALLY COOL.  He was more like “Aren’t you PROUD of me MOM???” instead of “UH-OH…busted”, which he most assuredly WAS.

All I said was “VINCENT MORTIMER” (that’s his full name).  He did a couple of gymnast-like maneuvers and whistled happily because he was SURE I’d give him a treat.  Then he fluffed his feathers again and sat down.  Like he was staying there.  Because he’s cool…and he obviously thought that I thought he was cool.

WRONG.  I snatched him off the rail and gave him a gentle scolding while he whistled and pecked at the “MARGARITAVILLE” on my t-shirt.  I placed him back in the coop with the herd of water buffalo…I mean, CHICKENS…who were preparing to stampede out into the run when I made the hole in the wall reappear by opening the door.  After the dust settled and they were all outside, I tried to figure out what he’d done to get up there, because FLYING is not his strong suit…neither is anything else, now that I think about it.

Vinnie 1

Last night, when we were turning off their fan and tucking them in for the night, Vinnie had shown a little extra effort and had jumped up on the roost bar…just two feet…I wasn’t as impressed as he thought I should be apparently.  We stood and watched them for a while and noticed that Vinnie seemed to be listening to the sounds of the toads drifting in through the open window which is covered with screen.  He walked back and forth on the roost bar and right about as we were ready to go back to the house for the night…in fact, I was walking out of the coop…we heard a crash and looked at the window and there was Vinnie, smashed up against the screen, standing on the window sill looking triumphant.

TAHDAH!!

For PETE’S SAKE.  I went back into the chicken area, scooped him off the window sill and dropped him next to a pile of scratch.  He quickly seemed to forget about his circus career as a high-window-sill walker and happily whistled while he stole all the sunflower seeds from the pile.  It all seemed under control…probably just a fluke that he ended up on the window sill…so we locked up and went back to the house.  I can see now, what he did. He got on the roost…flew to the window…and then hopped to the top of the fence rail.  I don’t think it was an escape attempt…although he does have a blue print of the coop tattooed on his skin (reference: Prison Break”)…I think he just thought it was something entertaining to do.

vinnie proof

So, now we’re going to take that fencing all the way to the ceiling.  In the meantime, we’ve done some emergency “engineering” and have put up this classy, Vinnie-barricade, because I KNOW he’ll do it again and not only will he do it again, but those other chickens are total lemmings and next thing you know, I’ll go to open the coop in the morning and they’ll all greet me at the big doors instead of being OCD about where the hole in the wall that used to be the run door went.

Apparently, when they were deprived of oxygen at the hatchery, Vinnie must have gotten ahold of a tiny, beak shaped oxygen mask because this was not the action of a dumb chicken.  This actually showed a little thought…and absolutely NO forethought on the part of the stupid humans who thought none of them would ever make it to the top of that four foot wall.

That’s a little scary.  I’m completely denying his request for internet access and a cell phone…I don’t need any international events started by a chicken and I’ve clearly underestimated Vinnie’s abilities.  I’m working on his Yale application right now.

 

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This blog is part of  The Homestead Barn Hop #158

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Free.

I one of those people who spends the whole week thinking about ALLLLLL the things I’m going to get done over the weekend.  While sitting in my deprivation chamber (office) all week, I come up with all kinds of grand ideas about cleaning out cabinets, organizing things and building elaborate ponds with fountains and koi in the backyard in a spot where we currently can’t get grass to grow.  I will promise myself a jillion times that THIS WEEKEND is going to be THE weekend to be productive.  All week I detail my grand schemes to my husband who usually just answers “okay”.  It’s not because he’s really all that agreeable.  It’s because he knows me.

Saturday mornings typically go like this. I’m the first one awake…or…well, maybe “awake” is too generous of a word.  How about, I’m the first one out of bed…that’s a bit more accurate. Yesterday,  I got up, scuffed out to the chicken coop in my pajamas and initiated the chicken stampede…which just means I let them out of their coop.  Remember that scene from “The Lion King” where Simba’s father gets trampled by the water buffalo stampede?  It’s pretty much like that.  How 12 chickens can make their feet hit the ground that many times that they sound like 1200 chickens is completely beyond me.  I just shook my head and scuffed back to the house while they scoured the run for snacks that might have appeared overnight.

I had planned to be REALLY productive this weekend.  Laundry, cooking, a little cleaning, some baking, chicken coop decorating, oh the list was long and impressive.  The weather was PERFECT and Tom had even called an equipment rental place to rent a large tiller to do the garden!!  I just figured I’d get that puppy planted too.  That sounds reasonable, right?  (NO)

When I got back to the house, Tom was still in bed, so I surfed around the internet, visited a favorite chicken site and swooned over cute chick pictures, drank some coffee and oh look!  The Today Show is on!  So I reasoned that since no one else was awake and there was coffee and Lester Holt, that I should just sit on the sofa.

Greg came stumbling in from his apartment behind the house and collapsed in a chair like it was the longest walk he’d ever taken…it’s about 40 feet or so.  At some point, after me making 53 trips to the bed and announcing what time it was, like a brunette version of Big Ben, Tom finally came out of the bedroom and sleep walked down the stairs to walk his mother’s dog (he’s the bane of my existence…the dog…not Tom).  Tom’s mother lives in another part of the house, on the lower level.   I was still drinking coffee, so I was still moderately happy.  As long as I have a cup of coffee in front of me, I’m pretty much stationary and content.

Tom finally finished walking all the dogs…I haven’t told you about the dogs yet….oh, my….that’s another story for another day altogether. He made himself a cup of coffee, sat down on the love seat and promptly fell asleep…or resumed sleeping…because I don’t think he ever woke up while he was walking the herd of dogs that we own that he calls “The Idiots”.

By this time, I was finished with  my coffee and had decided that it was time to do things.  Greg was draped over the overstuffed chair playing some sort of online game where you basically attack other people and steal their stuff…sort of like an animated version of living in Detroit.

Tom was snoring.  Which always makes me mad.  So I told him what time it was again.

“I wasn’t sleeping”

“You are SNORING.  You’re either sleeping or you’ve got something REALLY BIG caught in your nose”

“I’m going to get up in just a minute”

Okay…take that conversation and just repeat it 94 times.  Because that’s what always happens.  Tom used to tour with rock bands when he was younger.  Motley Crue, Aerosmith…you know…all those little quiet bands.  He learned to sleep through mayhem on tour buses or while leaning against a running air compressor in the middle of a crowded concert venue.  The guy can sleep through a box of C4 going off next to his head, I swear.  I finally got him semi conscious and drinking some coffee annnnnnnnd then he fell asleep several times holding his coffee.  I ranted and carried on…Greg kept playing his game…Tom kept snoring.  I kept getting more annoying.  It was pretty much a typical Saturday.

FINALLY, Tom got up off the sofa (read as: I griped until he got up off the sofa) at about 11:00.  I’d already decided that there was no way we could possibly get ANYTHING done because the day was half over.  Then Tom said those magic words that had started this whole chicken journey.

“We need to go to Rural King today.”

Suddenly, he’d redeemed himself.  If we were going to Rural King, that means we were getting more chicken and garden stuff because honestly, there isn’t much else there that I’d walk across the street for in the store.  Greg, on the other hand, got very excited because, remember, Rural King has free popcorn…and he apparently doesn’t mind that it’s made by a woman with a mustache.

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So we all piled into the truck and Rural King isn’t that far away so we were there pretty quickly.  I hadn’t even bothered to look at what I was wearing, until we were walking into the store and that’s when I noticed I had on my t-shirt that proclaims “CRAZY BUT FUN” across the front.

Fifty years old, people.  I am wearing a “CRAZY BUT FUN” t-shirt, in public, at 50 years old.

Greg and I always enjoy the parking lot at Rural King because there is a wide variety of things to be sarcastic about…which is our main gig.  One day, at the Rural King on the other side of town (there are two…who needs two? ), we were in the parking lot where a very nice church group had set up a grill and were selling the following:  Grilled Boneless Chicken, Grilled Boneless Pork Chops, and at the bottom of the sign, and I’m not making this up, Grilled Boneless Hotdogs.   I’m also not kidding when I say that this provided us with comedy material for the next several weeks.

Greg bypassed the popcorn area when we first arrived because there were a few too many people in line that were wearing camouflage and looked a bit surly.  I made my usual beeline to the CHICK NIRVANA waiting in the back of the store.  Tom was pulling a loud, rickety red flat cart behind him because we needed shavings for the coop.  I’m sure you could hear this cart in SPACE.

The chick area was kind of a drag.  You can tell that the people who work at the store are OVER IT.  At the beginning of chick season, everything was sparkly and clean and the chicks were tiny and healthy.  Now the stock tanks of chicks smelled badly of chick poop, they were terribly over crowed and the chicks were older and already sprouting their wing feathers.  Sort of sad.  I wished I could save them all and finally sadly walked away.  Poor things.

We got what we needed, including a bag of “Mother Clucker” chicken treats…pretty much because I think the name is hysterical. Next time I’m buying “CLUCK YEAH!”.  I also, thanks to my chicken decor radar, found an adorable metal welcome sign with a chicken on the top of it, that you stick in the ground.  SCORE.  It has a bell on it too…because I always look for opportunities to provide the neighborhood with noise, apparently.  Greg walked up happily eating a bag of popcorn and we paid and were on our way.

We ran a few other errands and now the day was REALLY trashed in my opinion and all I would be able to get done was possibly bake a batch of cookies.  Once I decide that I can’t get anything done…I’m done.  In other words, don’t look for any spectacular movement because I’ll probably be drinking a soda and writing blog post or staring vacantly at Pinterest for ideas about things that I should actually be doing.

I finally decided that I would check the chickens who were out in their run bemoaning the lack of edible weeds, which they mowed down completely in about two days and which refuse to grow back.  Greg showed up a few minutes later as I was trying to placate the chickens with handfuls of clover and chickweed.  Greg said, “We should free range today!”

Hm.  I wasn’t too sure about that idea.  We’ve got foxes that live in the woods and hawk screams are frequent in the sky above our yard.  Shoot, I won’t even take my three-pound chihuahua outside because I’m afraid she’ll get sucked into some sort of hawk vortex that will instantly form in the sky the moment she sets a paw off the back step.  Greg, started trying to get Vinnie, the Barred Rock, into the coop so that he could snatch him up and take him out into the big yard…the big unprotected yard…with neighboring foxes…and swooping dangerousness.  I reminded him that I’m OLD and that he better be able to catch whoever he decided to bring out.  Pretty soon he emerged from the coop with Vinnie under his arm, who was whistling and chortling because obviously, something very exciting was about to happen.

Tom was out in the “garden” (orange staked square of untilled grass) making final calculations and probably doing long division and figuring some sort of trajectory that involved square roots and quadratic equations.  Greg and I headed that way with Vinnie, where Greg set him unceremoniously down on the ground in a patch of clover.

Vinnie got very tall and I think his neck was about a foot long.  Tallest, skinniest necked chicken, you’ve ever seen.  He tried to take in everything at once, made a weak attempt at flying and crashed into the ground, and finally settled down to explore the huge open yard.  I think he was a little confused about where all the other chickens were, but interest in clover and other green snacks pretty soon caused him to care LESS where the other chickens were.  He explored the grass, insinuated himself into a big pile of branches that were lying at the edge of the woods (this when we started to talk like the crocodile hunter guy describing the natural habitat of the “WILD BUSH CHICKEN”), and then Vinnie seemed to get bored with it all and waddled back up to the area near the run where the rest of the chickens were eyeing him with mild panic.  He pecked at our walkway which is made of composite stone and must have looked like scattered seeds to him and then he looked at us like “well, that was good…now what”.

 

I scooped him up and feeling much relieved, deposited him back in the coop on a roost.  The rest of the chickens rushed into the coop to get the full story from him.  At this point, Greg scooped up Oprah Wingfrey, one of the Black Sex-Link pullets and headed back for the open yard.  As head chicken supervisor, I followed, wondering why he always seemed to pick the NICE chickens to put out as hawk snacks.

Greg set Oprah down.  She looked around and realized this was NOT the chicken run and started to HONK.  It was a cross between a raspy peep and a poorly formed cluck.  To calm her down a little, we sat down on the ground in the grass to show her all of the wonders she could find in the clover.  There was some worm eating (by her…not us), some clover nibbling, some pecking at Greg’s cell phone, more clover nibbling and some picture-taking.  It was a perfect afternoon to sit in the dappled sunlight and play with a chicken.  Honestly, how many times have you heard those words in a sentence?

 

We finally got up and started walking back to the coop and run area with Oprah following like a puppy and grabbing beakfulls of particularly tasty weeds along the way.  I scooped her up, introduced her to our outside cat, Wally…who looked at me like “WHAT is THAT?”…and put her back in the coop where she too was greeted by the entire flock.  We watched them for a bit and returned to the house.  It was time to start dinner.

So, basically, I got nothing done yesterday.  I have to say though…BEST. SATURDAY. EVER.

 

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Oatey.

Tonight was one of those nights that seemed to pass in an instant.  I had a mandolin lesson and Greg and Tom came with because they like to gaze lovingly at the Breedlove guitars in the acoustic room.  We have a pretend band that is called “Electric Bacon”.  I’m already looking for a dress for the Grammys.

Anyway, when things finally slowed down, it was chicken bedtime.  BEST time of the day.  The Peep Squad had been in the coop all afternoon because of severe storms moving through the area.  I had let them out this morning either in hopeless optimism or blatant denial that we were going to get more rain.  At noon, everything still looked okay weather wise so I didn’t rush home to put them away.  Also…I had on black pants.  Everyone knows you don’t go to the chicken coop with anything BLACK on.  Actually, I use black pants as an excuse for everything.

“Oh, open that door for you?  I can’t…I’m wearing black pants.”

“Do something productive today?  Sorry.  Black pants.”

I think it goes back to my mother telling me “DON’T GET ANYTHING ON THOSE BLACK PANTS”.  I’m sure that’s it.

square eggs and i

So, around two o’clock, I guess it started to rain.  I don’t have any idea really, because my office has no windows which also accounts for the alarming shade of white of my skin.  Greg was at home, so he ended up rounding up the damp crew and securing them back in the coop. They don’t like coming inside.  Have I mentioned that?  Of course, the Buff Orpington Rooster Brothers were their usual insolent, rotten selves and as Greg would round them up and put them in the coop, everyone else would run back out.  So he’d get them back in, and the BORBs would escape.  I’m glad I was trapped in my office working on my paleness.

Since they’d been cooped up all day, I thought I’d take them a treat tonight.  I’d taken them an offering of fodder earlier in the evening, and they were completely unimpressed.  Weren’t interested at all.  Finicky buggers.

Back to the treat.  I threw some stale Cheerios in a plastic container and added some raw oatmeal.  MMMMM…oatey deliciousness.  I headed out to the coop and as usual, Tom and Greg tagged along.  Tom took my usual chair and bale of straw and Greg and I went through the gate to the chicken area.

Everybody was standing with their beak pressed against the run door, peeping hopefully.  I don’t know how many chicken-eating-sasquatch stories I’m going to have to tell them before they understand that they can’t go outside in the DARK.

Greg and I each took a handful of Cheerios and oatmeal and crushed it up a bit and held out our hands.

cow crane

Holy Moly.  Remember that scene in Jurassic Park when they lower the cow using that big cow crane thing into the raptor pen?  Well, this was A LOT like that.  They LOVED it.  Vinny, the naughty barred rock, was eating oatmeal without breathing.  I swear.  The chicken never took a BREATH.  He was eating from Greg’s outstretched hand and when all the snack was gone, he looked up and he had a little oatmeal beard hanging from his beak.

At that point, we lost it.  We should sell tickets to this stuff…either that or we are quite simple-minded and easily amused…which is more likely.

What followed was a lot of beak wiping (which we always enjoy) and then more Cheerioatmeal eating (yes…I typed that as one word, no…it does NOT exist in the WordPress spellchecker) and then there was MORE beak wiping and some sincerely disappointed chicken looks when we finally decided we’d had enough of them pecking our hands with their pointy little beaks.  We packed up the rest of the snacks because everyone’s crop was getting a little too full.  The chicks seemed to take that cue to begin looking for places to settle down and we locked the coop and headed back to the house.

Pure joy.  Absolute and utter happiness. That’s what I feel when I’m with those silly feathered creatures.  I know how insane it must sound.  I’ve always loved animals, but this experience has taken that to a new height.  I love to see them excited about treats and happily preening and snuggling up together at night to rest.

I love their innocent curiosity.  I love the way they look at me with eyes that appear to be full of questions.  I wonder what they think…I’m sure it’s nothing like the way that we think.  It’s obvious though, they DO think.  Those tiny, goofy little heads, have something going on inside.

I was talking to a friend today who said “Their brains must be so tiny.  Like a pea”.

She’s right.  And those oatmeal beaked, pea brains bring me so much joy.

Change.

This is it.  I turn fifty this year.  I have no idea how it happened.  In my mind, I don’t feel fifty at all.  My body is another story, but I won’t go there because it’s not pretty….not pretty at all.

Anyway, I’ve always been a very driven person.  I wanted the big important high status job,  I wanted lots of letters after my name and I wanted status.  Period.  In my career, I’ve always left jobs to take a job that would advance me further.  I knew that there wasn’t anything that could stop me and I worked hard and wanted MORE, MORE, MORE.  To put it simply…I’ve always been an overachiever.  In a big over achieving way.

Lately though, as I approach this big milestone birthday, I’ve found myself changing.  Suddenly, I don’t care to achieve any more.  I’m quite happy with what I have.  In fact, sometimes, I think I’d be happier with a little less in my life.  Family suddenly seems terribly important to me, as does our home and the things we do in our “off” time which I guard rabidly. The world around me seems to be much more important too.  Not the people, generally, but I’m worried about the planet.  We’ve got a darn good gig here and I feel like we’re screwing it up big time.  Suddenly, the idea of chemically laced food, medications with strong, damaging side effects, pollution in the air and water, and the way we treat the animals of the planet all seem very, VERY wrong to me.

I’ve stopped caring what other people think.  I’ve also cut people out of my life who were making it more complicated and dramatic.  It sounds harsh, but I don’t want that anymore.  It used to be that a little drama and adrenaline drove my day.  Now, I walk away from it.  I no longer feel compelled to get involved in every argument I’m invited to.  My icy exterior that I’ve been told can be “intimidating” is  melting a bit, although I still speak my mind and feel entitled to do so.   I no longer will keep my mouth shut to preserve what others think of me. This is who I am.  At almost 50.

I’m suddenly interested in developing talents that I’ve always had, like art and writing.  Before these changes in me started to appear, I never did those things because I thought “What am I going to do with it when I’m done?”   I don’t care what I do with it now.  It makes me happy.  Maybe that’s the whole thing right there…I’ve figured out how to be happy without having an unnatural front to it and I just don’t care what people think because I’m not here to make them happy.  This is my life…not theirs.

So, WHY am I writing all this drivel when it has nothing to do with chickens?  Isn’t this a chicken blog?  Well, yes…and actually, my twelve little chicken dumplings (which is WAY different from chicken and dumplings…which by the way are delicious) have taught me some things.  They’re little teachers in chicken feathers…and they don’t give homework, which is good, but they do teach important life lessons that honestly, for the first time in my life, I’ve been open enough to accept.  None of it is rocket science…which chickens have been rumored to be able to do, but it’s never been witnessed.

Since I brought the chicks home, I’ve felt this strong urge to care for them.  Not because they can give me anything, but because they are helpless and have no choices.  My husband suggested it was empty nest syndrome, but I still have two children at home, granted one is 21 and the other is 11, and maybe he’s right, but I think there is something more to it.  It’s the simplicity of it.  The daily feeding and care and doing what’s naturally best for them.  It’s not giving them chemicals and things they don’t need, but furnishing natural things for them and watching them grow into beautiful creatures whose feathers are glossy and naturally beautiful.  It’s watching them grow from infancy or chickhood to maturity.  It’s teaching them to trust me and showing them that not everything in the world is meant to be feared and I will keep them safe.  It’s growing food for them and us (if I EVER get that garden in) that feels so basic and so real.  I think that’s what I’ve been missing for many years…I needed to feel something basic and REAL.  Not something contrived to impress other people or make myself feel more important.  I don’t need to feel more important.  I don’t need someone or degree to tell me I’m worthy of anything.  I AM important.  I can make a difference in the world, even though it’s just my little piece of it in the backyard.  Suddenly.  It’s okay to be just me and to let out all the things I’ve always wanted to do but was afraid of what people would say.  It simply doesn’t matter.  I don’t care if anyone thinks that keeping chickens in the backyard at the edge of a major Indiana city is stupid, or dirty.  It brings me simple joy.  There’s something to be said for that.

I’ve become interested in pulling things around me that are things I’ve always loved.  I immerse myself in artwork, writing and music.  I’ve found things from my childhood that speak to me.  I looked everywhere online for a plant that my grandmother and aunt grew.  It’s called Baby Tears and it has tiny little leaves and trails and spreads from the pot it grows in.  Having that plant, that my grandmother used to grow is very important for some reason.  Caring for it and watching it grow and spread, is a big deal.  It’s a simple thing and it ties me to my roots.

Last night, I washed my husband’s grandmother’s china that had been languishing in a box in the garage.  It’s an old pattern of pink roses.  I walked by that box in the garage probably 345.5 times and never thought about it, but one day, I stopped and picked up a fragile cup.  Why was I letting something so beautiful sit in a box?  After the china was washed and dried, I arranged it in the china hutch.  My husband was watching and when I stood back to look at the finished work, he said “My grandmother would be happy”…and although I did not ever meet his grandmother, that made me feel incredibly happy myself.  I hadn’t done it because someone was coming over and I wanted to impress them, which is commonly how I’d worked in the past, I just liked it.  It had meaning.  I think I’ve come to the point to where I want things to mean something.  I don’t want it to be complicated or stuffy.  I just want purity and simplicity and I don’t care what anyone thinks about that.

Every night, my husband and I go out to the chicken coop.  I say it’s to tuck the chicks in bed, but frankly, they don’t really care if I come out or not.  While I’m there, I usually bring them a treat, turn off their window fan if it’s cool outside or maybe change their water so that it’s clean and fresh with a new dose of apple cider vinegar in it.  Most of the time though, I sit in my chair with my feet propped against a bale of straw and Tom leans on the fencing in the coop and we just watch them.   They play, scratch in the shavings, peep incessantly, bicker over bits of treats, annoy each other and then finally they’ll begin to settle down on perches or in mounds of shavings on the floor.  They usually sleep in groups and the other night I noticed one of the Buff Orpington Rooster Brothers (BORBs) walk slowly over to where the other buff pullet and BORB were settled in the bedding.  He peeped at them and scratched around in the shavings and finally settled as close to them as he could and laid his neck and head over the back of his brother and closed his eyes.  They became an entwined pile of honey colored feathers.  Seeking warmth, comfort and companionship from each other in a simple, pure way.  That simple act was perfectly beautiful to me.

We usually hang out in the coop for a while. Time seems to slip away for me out there.  The night toads are singing in the trees and the contented peeping and scratching of the chickens is very soothing to me.  As the last one settles down, Tom will start shuffling around a bit and I’ll know it’s time to tear myself away from them.  I love to watch them fall to sleep, in what seems like puddles of fluffy feathers.  We lock the coop and head to the main house up the path between the pool and garage that is bordered by holly bushes.  It’s all so wonderful that I feel as though it’s not real sometimes.

Many years ago, while working for a major bookseller, I discovered a photo study of a woman named Tasha Tudor.  She was an acclaimed children’s illustrator and author who lived in New England in a home that was built by her son, Seth, using only hand tools in the 1970’s.  She was an elderly woman in the first book I found (The Private World of Tasha Tudor) and I felt strangely drawn to her.  She lived alone in this hand-built home with the things she loved.  A parrot, finches, doves, goats, chickens, her beloved corgi dogs and cats were her constant tasha chickencompanions.  She devoted her life to gardening and artwork and to living on her terms.  She always felt as though she had been born into the wrong century and lived her life in its entirety, as though she lived in the Victorian era.  There was a simplicity and purity to her lifestyle that appeals to me.  A devotion to art and writing that I admire and would like to develop.  People told her she couldn’t do things and she did them anyway, because it was the way SHE wanted to live.  How many of us have that opportunity and seize it?  I believe we all do…if we let go of what others think and stay true to ourselves and the calling of our own soul.

So, that’s where I am as I approach fifty.  I’m drawn to be more simple and devoted to the talents I’ve been given.  I’m fascinated with the idea of living in old ways that are proven by time and experience.  I’m ready to let go of things that hold me back, like critical former friends and living as if I was chasing something that I could never catch.  And honestly, I have to thank twelve chickens.  They calmed my mind so that I could hear the cry of my own soul.   A noise that I was too busy to hear before.

Tasha Tudor wrote many books and illustrated countless others.  The title that I think I love the most is Take Joy.  So inspired am I by this magical, eccentric woman and by the life I’ve found through the chickens, I believe I will.

 

tasha chickens

 

 

Simple Saturdays Blog Hop

I participate in Simple Saturdays Blog Hop  and Homestead Barn Hop

 

Slide.

Sooooooooo, you may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the word “garden” in a couple of posts.  That’s because there still isn’t one.  Well, I guess that’s not exactly true…there are now four orange stakes out in the backyard stuck in various places.  See, this past weekend was all about the chickens.  They’re greedy like that.  Today was Monday and since I work full-time, I wasn’t around all day to harangue, nag and annoy my husband until he rototilled the darn thing up.

eggs and I square

I guess I didn’t do any gardening this weekend now that I think about it.  I grew that wheat fodder for the chicks…sort of gardenish.  I looked at garden plants when we went to Rural King…I think that counts.  I watered the plants, that I still haven’t thinned) in their dissolvable pots and plastic trays.  So that’s not a total loss.  Tom did stick the orange posts in the ground on Saturday to mark something out…the garden…some weird triangulation equation…where he needs to go with the pooper scooper…I’m sure it meant one of those things.

Actually, I had gotten home Friday afternoon and Tom asked me to come out to see where he’d laid out the garden.  I was impressed.  I hadn’t had to do any haranguing that day.

 

We walked out to the part of the yard that slopes away from the pool towards the woods and pond.

As we came around the end of the pool, I looked down the slope and there were approximately 116 orange fence poles (the ones that don’t match the chicken fence…read the whole blog…you’ll see) stuck in the ground all over the slope.

“What do ya think?”

“Ummm…Tom…we’re not going to have any YARD left.”

“You said you wanted it big.”

“Yeah…but…I think we’ll need migrant workers at this point.”

I tried to figure out exactly what SHAPE all these poles lined out.  It was either a star or the state of Maryland…and I’d say closer to the state of Maryland.  It seemed as though there were a dizzying number of bright orange fence posts stuck in the ground.  What kind of math did this guy use?

Frankly, I’d expected a completely different thing when he said he was going to “lay out the garden”.  I envisioned some white string and some stakes…this looked like the ground had sprouted quills.    As we walked around in the posts (orange…orange posts) I was getting more and more confused.  I told Tom again that I thought it was kinda….LARGE.  To which he replied that it was just like his drawing…which means absolutely nothing to me because I had NO idea how large he’d drawn it . I vaguely recall him asking some questions and then waving something printed out on the drafting computer in front of me and I was probably distracted by something shiny and I don’t remember anything about the conversation.

I do that.  I’ll agree to all sorts of things and then later I’m dumbfounded to learn that I agreed to any of it.

Anyway, I think I finally asked him WHY there were so many posts and what were those posts doing ALLLLLLL they way down by the edge of the yard near the pond.

Turns out, he had marked out several plots and was trying to find the FLATTEST spot on the SLOPE (see those two words?  One of them doesn’t work with the word GARDEN).

So…about that SLOPE.  Basically, the back of our property sort of slopes into this…um…wooded ravine that holds a creek that empties into the pond.  I guess I hadn’t thought about this clearly…I also don’t go out there much because I saw a SNAKE hole once.  How am I going to plant a garden on the side of a hill?  I stood there amidst the posts (ORANGE!) and thought about finally dragging all those plants in the dissolvable pots and plastic trays down to the garden and how I’d carefully plant them and water them and the garden would be so fresh and new and then…we all know what would happen.

It would rain and the whole thing would wash into the ravine.  Complete with my wood obelisk for my sweet peas and all my cute herb markers that I have yet to make.

Don’t they farm on the sides of hills in China?  Granted those are rice paddies, but I should be able to work this out, right?  I sure hope so, otherwise I’m going to be weeding  tomatoes in a kayak and screaming about snakes the entire time.

Bedtime.

Although chickens have existed in the world for probably thousands of years without human intervention (I’m not a chicken historian, give me a break on that guess), for some reason we, personally, feel that we need to tuck them in every night before it’s time for bed.   I don’t mean actually tuck them in with tiny blankets, but we always go out and check on them one last time and make sure that none of them have done anything silly, like hurt themselves or choke on a piece of pine shaving that they aren’t supposed to be eating.

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Apparently, we’re over protective chicken parents.

Last night, they were all in the coop due to the rain yesterday.  Honestly, we could have just left them alone (I’m sure they wish we would), but around 8:30 I announced that I was going to the coop to put the chicks to bed.  The rain had stopped for a bit and my husband came with for his usual moral support.  I had closed the big door to the coop, so they were all comfy and cozy inside and we had put the roosts in that day so we were anxious to see if they were using them because we were convinced they would love sleeping 14 inches above the ground on the wide side of a 2×4…I mean, who wouldn’t love that?

We crept up to the coop door, I undid the lock and slowly opened the door expecting to see snoozing chickens on the roosts.

NOPE.  Every one of them had their beak crammed up against the door to get outside to the run…they are obsessed with being outside.  No matter how many times I explain to them that the Boogie Chicken comes out at night to steal their beaks, they remain stalwart in their obsession.

Which makes me feel bad because they have a really nice setup and if I were a chicken, I would totally dig living there.

I tried not to take their rejection of their newly finished palace personally, but I gave them a brief, stern talking to about roosts and that they needed to at least TRY them because it’s what all the cool chickens do at night.  They pretty much just walked around and peeped at each other.  I also told them that unless they start clucking, no one is going to take them seriously as a chicken.  So get with the program.

We stood in the coop for a while and watched them and nobody even TRIED one of the roosting bars.  Vinnie, the naughty barred rock chick, walked back and forth in front of the roost for a short time, looking at them with one eye (like chickens do), and then made an attempt at flight annnnnnd….perched on top of the feeder.  FAIL.

About that time, my son Greg showed up and said something about a delivery from Domino’s pizza at the front door with 15 meal worm pizzas and that Vinnie had asked if we could get it this time and he’d pay the bill next time.   I told Greg that none of them would even TRY the roosts, so we weren’t paying for anything.

Greg decided he would fix this situation and went into the fenced area of the coop where the chicks were scratching for left over fodder and Cheerios that they’d had earlier as a treat.  I like to call the treat “Fodder-O’s”.  The chicks KNEW that something was up because whenever Greg shows up in the coop he picks them up and holds them and says “Hey…YOU are a nice chicken”.  It’s good for socializing them and getting them used to being held, it has made them friendlier and now they all know they are “nice” chickens…and you know we’re all about their emotional development.

So they all ran back to the door to the run, complaining the whole way.  Greg scooped one up, petted it for a while and complimented it on its feet, “Hey…these are NICE chicken feet”.  He set the chick on the 2×4 perch.  Let me just point out that none of these chickens are going to be Olympic Balance Beam gold medalists.  The chick couldn’t seem to figure out walking on the four-inch board and stepped right off and landed on the floor.  Apparently, we don’t learn much from our experience either, because he tried this several times, with several chicks and they all were completely oblivious to what they should do on a roost.

Greg, being the brilliant evil genius that he is, sprinkled feed on the roost and then picked up Vinnie and Oprah Wingfrey, our two most outgoing chicks, and set them on the roosting bar.  We held our breath.

Now that FOOD was involved, the roosting bar was INFINITELY  more interesting.  Oprah and Vinnie pecked at the feed and forgot they were doing something new by standing on the roosting bar.  Then one of them shoved the other one off the bar and jumped to the ground.  So much for that.  So he kept trying with other chicks and suddenly everyone was showing interest (especially because there was FOOD…even though it was the same food they could get out of the feeder…not the brightest crayons in the box) and looking at the roosting bar with one eye…you know, the way chickens do.

This little exercise went on for about 20 minutes or so, which was good because there was nothing on TV and this was pretty entertaining.  We have a long tree branch that we’d propped up on the roosting bar so that they could just shimmy their way up the nice fat branch and wouldn’t even have to TRY very hard to get up there.  One of the Golden Laced Orpingtons decided that she would try the branch and made it almost all the way to the roosting perch and then the branch rolled and she fell off.

Chickens don’t have a graceful bone in their body, it turns out.

So, Greg, using his best Boy Scout training, used some purple rope that we had in the coop and started lashing the top of the branch to the roosting bar while reciting the Boy Scout pledge…and this would have gone well, but I forgot to mention that the chicks are OBSESSED with the purple rope.  Sometimes we throw the end of it outside the run door when we’re trying to get them inside and they’ll chase it right into the coop.  I don’t get it, but whatever.

As Greg was wrapping the rope around the branch and roost, the end of it was on the floor, he gave it a tug to pull more rope around the branch and felt resistance on the other end.  We were so focused on his Boy Scout skills that we hadn’t even noticed that one of BORBs (Buff Orpington Rooster Brothers) had grabbed the other end with his beak and was not about to let go of the prized purple rope.

He was like a big feathery trout.

By this time, I was doubled over laughing in my chair in the work area of the coop and Tom was leaning on the sidewall watching with more than mild amusement.  Greg finally finished lashing the branch to the roost with the prized purple rope.  Now the chickens were REALLY interested.  The ROPE was up there.  He scooped up a few more chicks and placed them on the bar.  They cocked their heads and looked at him with one eye…the way chickens do…and pecked the rope a little, decided it was all dumb and either flew off, fell off, or walked down the now stable branch and resumed scratching for Fodder-O’s.

It was clear that we weren’t really getting anywhere with this particular activity.

We finally decided to give up.  We made sure that they couldn’t possibly make a noose out of the rope and tucked in all the ends and got ready to head back up to the main house.  I started my usual baby talk “Night guys!  I love you!  Sweet dreams!” while Greg  yelled “DON’T STAY UP TOO LATE!” and Tom shook his head because Greg and I have reached some new level of insanity that isn’t classified in any textbooks.  We locked the coop and started walking up the path to the main house, while Greg went to his apartment above the three car detached garage.

So what have we learned from this?

Everyone should buy some purple rope, chickens can be caught like fish,  and you can lead a chicken to a perch, but you can’t make him roost.  Also, I’ve learned that “Fodder-O’s” is not in the spell checker at WordPress.

I think we accomplished quite a lot.

 

Chickentime.

If you have chickens, you know how to do chicken math.  I’ve never been good at math.  In fact, I refuse to do math after 12:00 pm.  If you need something figured out, you’d better get to me between 8 and noon, or I have no idea what you’re talking about.  Chicken math, however, came quite easily to me and I feel as though I could be a natural chicken mathematician.

Let’s work through an example.

Chris wanted 4 hens.  She went to the Rural King and the minimum purchase is six chicks. Chris purchased six chicks.  How many chickens does she have?

ANSWER: NONE.  Chicks don’t count in chicken math.

How about another example, just to make things more clear.

Chris has six chicks.  She went to the Rural King for supplies. There are two trains heading in opposite directions that have no chickens on them, traveling at 50 miles an hour. How many chickens does Chris have?

ANSWER:  Even though Chris purchased six more chicks, she has NO chickens…because chicks don’t count.  And who cares about trains with no chickens on them?

Okay, okay…one more.

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Chris wants 12 chickens.  She has 12 chicks (which don’t count) and three of them are roosters (which also don’t count), how many chicks does she have to buy to have 12 chickens?

ANSWER:  It doesn’t matter, she’s just going to keep buying chickens.

Got it?  It’s really not that hard.  What you have doesn’t count, hatching eggs are not even included in equations and no matter how many you thought you’d have, you discover that you need more because you really don’t have any.  Simple.

As I’ve been raising the chicks (which don’t count), I’ve also discovered the phenomenon of “Chickentime”.  It’s completely different than keeping regular time. it’s a bit more difficult to explain than chicken math, but let me give you examples and I think you’ll pick it up pretty quickly.

Here we go…Chris has 12 young chickens.  She feeds the chickens every morning and lets them out of their coop.  How long does it take Chris to do the activities listed in chickentime.?

ANSWER:  I don’t know, I haven’t seen Chris since last Tuesday since she went out to feed the chickens.

Still unsure?

Another example:  Chris has 8 baskets of laundry to do.  She goes out to take the chickens a basket of weeds.  How long will it take Chris to do the laundry?

ANSWER:  NO CLUE.  Haven’t seen Chris since last Tuesday when she went out to take the chickens a basket of weeds and by the way…there are no clean towels.  Take a chamois from the garage if you want to dry off.

Getting it?  One more example.

Chris needs to clean the bathroom and bedroom.  How long will it take her in chickentime?

ANSWER:  Cleaning is not allowed in computing chickentime.  I’m going out to the coop.

So the next time your family criticizes the huge pile of laundry in the laundry room that growled at them when they went to look for socks, or wonders why they haven’t seen the top of the kitchen counter for three months, explain chickentime to them.

Because you simply don’t have time for these silly extra activities in chickentime…but since they don’t OBSERVE chickentime, they most certainly DO have time and show them to the laundry room where they can start on the growling, quivering heap on the floor, or they can start working on Mount Dishmore in the kitchen.

If you need me, I’ll be on chickentime today…out in the coop.

In.

So it’s been about four or five days since the Peep Squad took over the run.  Every night, we’ve had to chase them down in the coop or come up with a variety of noises that I’m SURE the neighbors can hear, to try to get them to come IN.   You’d think any self-respecting chicken would be packing up her beach bag and heading back to the coop at sunset.  Nope.  NADA.  ZIP.  ZILCH. NONE.

It’s frankly quite irritating and a little frustrating and soon you’re envisioning frying them all.

But I keep my cool.  Mostly.

So tonight I went out at dusk and my husband came with for moral support.   I picked a big basket of chickweed and headed for the coop singing “CHICKCHICKCHICK” at the very top of my lungs…I swear, the neighbors think I’m absolutely out of my mind and soon to be institutionalized.   The excited peeping started out in the run and there was a lot of running and hopping and tripping  over each others big scaly feet.

They KNOW that basket.  I KNOW they know that basket…and I use it to my advantage.

So I sailed on into the coop with my basket and they high tailed it for the ramp and door.  I threw big clumps of chickweed in several areas in the back of the coop and they all took a pile and started scratching and eating.  Perfect time to count fluffy butts.

Ten.  TEN.  I count again…TEN.  UGH.

eggsandisquare

Tom looks back outside and the two Buff Orpington Rooster Brothers are standing at the other end of the run looking insolently at the coop.

I’m in the coop “CHICKCHICKCHICK”‘n it up and talking baby talk and making peeping sounds and throwing grain around like a lawn sprinkler.  I could see two sets of scaly pink feet at the base of the ramp.  Eep!  They were considering making their move.

They came creeping up, drawn by their insane addiction to chickweed, and just when the first one was about to step in…Oprah Wingfrey, one of the black sex link pullets, rushed the door from the other direction.  I grabbed at her…which, in turn, scared the two Buff Orpington Rooster Brothers (it has to be capitalized…they’re like their own special ENTITY.  Want one?  Both?  No?) away from the door to the other end of the pen.

So Tom resorted to a series of owl noises that he thought sounded scary…but the chickens disagreed.

They came creeping up AGAIN.  I tried not breath…threw a little more grain…they were both standing in doorway…ANNNNND….Oprah rushed the door again, this time with the naughty Barred Rock in tow.

I windmilled my arms around and kept the two pullets in and the two BORB (Buff Orpington Rooster Brothers) flipped out in grand style and ran to the other end of the run.

If this wasn’t a semi-family show, I’d insert some colorful swearing right about HERE.

So Tom took it up a notch outside and scared them from that end of the run, toward the coop.  They were traveling at about a million miles an hour at this point.   They’re like little buff colored…cannon balls.  Jerks.

This time I had the rest of the flock examining a nice new bunch of chickweed that I’d placed WAY on the other side of the coop.  It’s not just a hatrack (points to head).

I trickled grain onto the wood in front of the doorway and the crazy little knot heads slowly climbed the ramp and stepped into the coop.  YESSSSSSSSS!

I was leaping through the coop I slammed the run door and I heard the ramp go clattering into the run outside. YAY!!!!

You know I turn fifty this year.  I would also like to keep living in this neighborhood without people running when they see me.  Someone needs to explain this to these chickens.

 

Breed.

So, let’s just back up a bit.  Remember when I followed the chicken tracks to the back of the farm supply store and found my own personal chicken nirvana?  If you don’t, you missed an episode (pssst…go read it).  Well, I was a little sweaty and overwhelmed, as you recall.  Partially because I was still somewhat shocked and incredulous that my husband was letting me get chickens and partially because I was slipping into coma from all the cuteness.   When the jaded kid working in the chick area asked me which ones I wanted, I sort of panicked and I said “oh…uh..three black ones and uh…three of those chipmunky ones”.  Let’s just say I was not well versed in the finer points of chicken varieties.  Image

When we got them home and I wasn’t feeling woozy from purchasing six chicks, I finally looked them all over to try to figure out what I’d bought.  I think it was Tom who asked me what kind they were.  Huh.  What kind.  I had NO idea.  I had very little criteria when it came to selecting chickens.  They couldn’t be white.  That was it.  No white chickens.  I can’t figure out WHY that was the criteria, but I’ll bet at some point I had a rational reason.  Oh…and they needed to be girls…they only sold girls at the store, right?  I hadn’t paid ANY attention to the tiny print on the sign that said “Straight Run”.  When I realized the gravity of those two words in reference to my chicks, I suddenly knew that Karma was going to get me for something dumb I did or said and I was going to end up with 6 roosters.  I KNEW it.

So when I went back to the farm supply store the next time to pick out the next six chicks, I made SURE I checked the side of the bin to see what sex I was choosing.  Wonderful.  Picked six from a pullet bin.  Perfect.

Except that two of them are roosters.  FAIL, Farm Supply Store…FAIL!!!  Two little Buff Orpington chicks, that are so full of adrenaline or testosterone or what ever chemical makes male chicks crazy, that they rocket around the run like cannon balls only stopping to threaten another unsuspecting run-mate or each other or maybe a rock that happens to be in their path.  They’re insane.

So now it’s time to play “Let’s Count Chris’ Roosters”!   In that first batch that I paid NO attention to what I was buying, 1 for sure rooster, 1 possible rooster, from the second batch, 2 freaking roosters.  FOUR.  FOUR ROOSTERS (Insert laugh like The Count from Sesame Street HERE.)  UGH.

You know what else I paid no attention to?  The name of the breed on the side of the bin.  Didn’t even look at it.  I’m telling you that section of the store with the chicks just sucks the brain right out of my head.  I didn’t expect the store to sell CHICKENS, let alone have specific breeds of chickens.  I just thought they got a bunch of so-cute-you-can’t-resist-them generic chicks.

So I ended up with quite the chick salad.  One Barred Rock, three Golden Lace Wyandotte, two Black Sex Link, three Easter Eggers and three Buff Orpingtons…heck, I might as well keep going and try to collect all the breeds?

Wait…I learned something else…you can ORDER chickens and have them SENT to you!  And you don’t have to worry that the farm supply store kid dumped the wrong chickens in the wrong bin or mixed up the breed or sex information.  You tell them what chickens you want, they box ’em up and BAM.  Chickens at your door.  Gosh, America is fabulous!

Once I get these two Buff Orpington boys rehomed, I’m going to approach the subject of replacing them.  Don’t worry…there’ll be a blog post on that, I’m certain.  When I finally do get the green light (and I will…bwahaha), I will order my very own box of downy joy and tell them the sex and the breed I want and it’s going to be AWESOME.

Annnnnd….I just got a little too excited about that.

Till.

So, remember all those seeds and onion sets and plants in dissolving pots (I still haven’t thinned them)?  Here’s the thing…we haven’t turned over ONE inch of garden yet.  I don’t mean we haven’t turned over LAST year’s garden, I mean we haven’t turned over vast amounts of green grass to turn it INTO a garden.  You’re right, not only did we get chickens before we had the whole coop thing worked out, but now we have 8,576 plants and seeds and I keep trying to buy MORE and I have absolutely nowhere to put them.

We’re idiots.

AprilIt’s APRIL.

Seriously, I swear, when we started this whole idea we had GREAT intentions.  Tom drafted a garden plan in his fancy-pantsy drafting program.  Like, he spent a LOT of time on it.  There were different colors and different views and measurements and angles and math that I couldn’t even BEGIN to comprehend.   Like, worse than long division, kind of math. He used the word “triangulation” a couple of times.  Our big plan was that we were going to “lay out” the garden and then rent some massive rototiller thing and it all sounds so easy to me…except you know it won’t be.  I’m sure this is going to involve blood, sweat, tears, swearing, rock throwing, yelling, swearing, arguing and then more swearing.  You just KNOW this is what’s going to happen.  And then…THEN…we still have to put a fence around it that involves some twirly post digging thing and a fence stretcher so that we can keep the bunnies from Watership Down and the deer out of the garden.

I am not going to get discouraged.

I just envision myself in my cute apron and floppy southern-old-woman hat picking tomatoes and putting them in a perfect garden basket while butterflies flit around the garden and the chickens cluck happily in their pen.

The reality is that I’ll be in a  mandolin t-shirt and a pair of ratty shorts, a pair of purple crocs with my hair in a pony tail screaming about garden worms and giant orb spinning spiders that probably migrated here on a banana ship.

I love my dream world.