Monday, April 30, 2012
6:48 pm edt
The spring woods change so
dramatically overnight that each day brings a surprise. In Ranger Rick's woods the wildflowers are transforming winter's dreary
carpet of decaying leaves to vibrant yellow-greens and soft pinks. Spring beauties, skunk cabbage, May apples and deceptively-pretty
poison ivy flourish along our path.
As the dogs
and I strolled along reveling in all the new growth we were literally stopped in our tracks by an enormous beech tree that
had snapped off about five feet from the ground. There are many beech trees in this woods. Some of them are hollow
and dangerous looking, but this one appeared solid, so finding the monster across our trail was quite unexpected.
Beech trees can grow to be 100' tall and can span 50-70'. Their bitter
nuts aren't good for human consumption, but provide mast for a lot of wildlife. Beech makes nice firewood because it
splits easily (as evidenced by this tree!), but reducing this one to manageable cordwood will be a challenge. The necessary
detour made our outing more interesting.
I stole an hour from writing to get more of the vegetable garden planted. Peppers and basil are growing on the kitchen windowsill,
but I've got two varieties of lettuce, beans, beets and some questionable pumpkin seeds in the ground so far. More reliable
pumpkins go in later, but I stuck the funky ones (discovered in the garden shed) in the chicken pen. If they grow, okay.
If they don't, it won't really matter.
It's been a
productive day in many ways, but neighbor Sandy, our resident meteorologist says we will be hit by dangerous winds and storms
later tonight. Judging from the dogs' nervous behavior she may be right, but Poppy doesn't seem too concerned.
Saturday, April 28, 2012
NOT YOUR AVERAGE JOE.
4:56 pm edt
It was cold this morning;
just 37 degrees when I headed into town. I needed some produce, so I planned to go to the flea market before heading
off to the conventional grocery store. Just on the outskirts of town I passed about a dozen young men all dressed in
puffy parkas doing tai chi in the driveway of the local weekly newspaper. They did not look peaceful. They looked miserable.
By the time I reached the flea market it was raining
and it seemed even colder. I scurried up and down the covered concourse perusing the fruits, vegetables and assorted oddities.
It was too inclement for the junk dealers to be out in the open lot, so today the coin dealer shared space adjacent to the
carrots, peppers and onions while the gun dealer was across from a guy selling watermelons. Everyone was chatting and
laughing as if the sun were shining.
One of my favorite
regular vendors at this flea market is an jolly fellow who lays out his bizarre collection of salables on huge tarps with
crudely-penned signage indicating that everything on the biggest tarp is twenty-five cents. Items such as a single rooster
salt or pepper shaker, a pair of soiled gloves, a light fixture that may or may not work, stretched out or hopelessly-shrunken
sweaters and assorted housewares. His better merchandise where everything is $1.00 is on another tarp, the two categories
separated by a line of boxed goods from which I bought a perfectly-good florescent light fixture for the cellar for two dollars.
The seller is very handicapped, friendly and painfully
honest. His tattered clothes are always at least four sizes too large and the pant legs drag on the ground until the
excess fabric wears away or falls off. One side of his body is compromised (the result of a stroke maybe...) and that
leg drags pitifully as if tethered to a concrete block, but he seems not to notice and he certainly doesn't allow this challenge
to hinder his entrepreneurial nature. He's truly an inspiration with his cheery demeanor, his curious merchandise
and his unfettered spirit.
He has recently acquired
a new van for hauling/storing and sometimes displaying his abundant wares. The white van is painted with a leaping,
graceful dancer in mid-air. The lettering indicates the vehicle previously belonged to The Philadelphia Ballet.
It was hard not to notice the irony.
At the grocery
there was none of the cheery friendly madness of the flea market. After jostling with cars driven by texting, rude young
women who should have their licenses revoked I pulled into a space a few cars away from the handicapped zone where a very
expensive, flame-painted, king cab, 4x4, late model truck sat. The driver's window was down, revealing a grossly obese guy
smoking a cigarette and listening to god-awful country western music played at ear-splitting volume. Of course the familiar
blue sign hung from the rear view mirror, but I had my doubts about him being handicapped! Socially handicapped for sure,
but did that qualify for preferred parking?
home I had just enough time to unload the groceries before my daughter and our special friend M. arrived. We were going
to the Feline Historical Museum in the next town to the east. The Museum is housed in an old former bank so the building
itself was impressive as banks used to be. Marble floors and tall, plaster relief-embellished walls conveyed an air
of permanence and stability, unlike modern prefabricated banks that pop up overnight. It was an interesting visit, followed
by lunch at a nice little diner.
Our friend M. is nothing
short of unique. Not many people take food items into a restaurant, but for M. this is not unusual at all.
Although the restaurant is famous for its homemade chips, M. brought not only a bag of Lays potato chips, but a plastic container
of spinach chip dip as well. The owner of the diner is familiar with his idiosyncrasies and just rolled her eyes as
she walked away after taking his very specific order.
the end of the meal M. collected all of the uneaten crackers on the table, crushed them and dumped them into the remaining
chip dip which he then stirred into a sort of thick stew. "It's for my chickens," he explained.
With the exception of the fat guy hogging the handicapped zone it's been
a delightful day of encounters with out of the mainstream people who in my opinion are the best kinds.
Friday, April 27, 2012
9:55 pm edt
My hair and skin reek of men's aftershave, overwhelming and sickening in its potency.
So many hugs and tears; it rubbed off on my face, my clothes.
Some people seem invincible, but then we know that no one really is. We regret the times we "thought
about" dropping by to say ‘hi,' but something else always seemed more pressing, so we didn't. Now that we
finally do stop by to say our final goodbye the beloved one doesn't know we are there.
We all sit staring at the figure in the box. Yes, the bone structure is the same,
but funeral directors rarely do a good job and this one was no exception. The preacher droned on and on, sobs
echoed from all sides of the big room and the unmistakable sound of Kleenex being pulled from strategically placed boxes punctuated
the eulogy. It's been a sad afternoon.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
8:57 pm edt
The ruined chicken pen is now wired and ready to zap. T. hooked it up yesterday
and assured me that I would know when one or both of the bad asses decided to chew up more of the fencing. Do they have
a special 6th sense? The job was completed and the juice turned on. They wouldn't come within twenty
feet of the area, but today as Andy tried to nosh on the bottom boards his ear touched the tiny wire that discouraged him
from further hooliganism.
Ranger Rick called and
said he has spoken with the person responsible for desecrating the woods and that the situation is resolved and will not happen
again. I hope he is right.
Monday, April 23, 2012
7:52 pm edt
All of the electric fence materials are in my truck and T. has generously offered
to install it for me, but the frigid winds that literally blew a couple of cedar shakes off the house have temporarily put
the kibosh on the project. One more day won't matter at this point.
The blustery weather has had one unexpected good side effect. It has energized the bad asses so they
are more interested in chasing each other and racing against the wind than in eating fence slats.
Weather like this invited a roaring fire in the woodstove and provoked me to cook.
Since the hens are working overtime and the fridge is bulging with eggs I decided to look for a dish that would use several.
I modified a basic recipe and the result was just too good not to share, so here is my version of Smoked Gouda Quiche.
4 beaten eggs
1+ c. of shredded smoked gouda cheese
1 TBSP. chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Meanwhile, in a couple
of tablespoons of butter sauté one chopped onion, ½ chopped red pepper and about ½ cup of chopped mushrooms.
Temper the egg mixture and then combine the dairy/vegetables. Pour into an unbaked pie shell and bake for one hour at
350 degrees. It is delicious, even when it ‘s overbaked as mine was (I forgot it was in the oven). Very
nice with a glass of white wine.
PERSISTANCE PAYS OFF.
4:45 pm edt
"You are not as cute as you think you are and I do not want
to sleep with you! Now go away!" he says.
I love you. Please don't send me off," she pleads, snuggling up a little closer.
"Harumph," he grumbles, lumbering from his bed without a backward glance
and shuffling to the other side of the room leaving the scorned one comfortably ensconced in the middle of the big dog bed.
This was pretty much the conversation that has taken
place every night for the past several years between Ted and Little Ivy. Ivy has finally won her man.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
REALLY BAD ASSES!
5:10 pm edt
I've reached the end of my rope! All the work to create a relatively-attractive
and secure chicken pen has been destroyed in a matter of hours. Today the bad asses ate three of the fence slats.
They didn't just nibble them. They ate them completely! Of course I have no extra slats with which
to replace them.
Oh, they are feigning innocence,
but those doe eyes don't fool me one little bit! Tomorrow I will install what should have been installed long
ago; a hot wire! I'm not a cruel person and certainly I love my animals-even the bad ones, but I confess that I'm looking
forward to seeing the bad asses fly on their butts when they touch the electric fencing (and I know they will
Saturday, April 21, 2012
9:18 am edt
"Hey Andy, can you give me ride? It's raining and I hate getting' my feet
wet," says Gladys. She doesn't wait for an answer, but hops up on Andy's back and rides into the barn.
Andy is the sweetest bad ass in residence, so of course he doesn't even
react. As for Gladys, she has once again proven herself to be a very resourceful hen. It's always Gladys at the
door, pecking on the glass for attention that she hopes will provoke me to produce some special treat (and I usually do).
Chickens aren't likely to win recognition for having superior intelligence,
but I think this hen is an exception. I only hope I have a camera handy the next time she hitchhikes.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
8:42 pm edt
Very short post tonight. It might not look like much, but it was a lot of work
and I am dead tired after laboring at renovating the outside chicken pen. The old fence that is being replaced near
the house will keep the bad asses out of the enclosure for a while anyway.... Thanks to my math-savvy friend Diana the
job went much smoother than I expected. Had I done it alone it would have been a disaster, that's for sure. I
am just not a carpenter. I measure a board three times and get three different figures. Thank goodness for friends
I took this photo before the bad
asses have time to demolish the work. In spite of the metal trim on the top rail they have already found noshing spots
as indicated by the raw, recently-chewed wood at the bottom right. The hula hoop is only somewhat a
deterrent as they are afraid of it--sort of.... ‘Wish I have ten more.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
8:02 pm edt
I often mention Ranger Rick's
woods. For me and for all of the equestrians who ride through this lovely woodland it is a rare and cherished sanctuary
for it seems that whenever a property around here goes up for sale it's snatched up by people who should not live in the country;
people who immediately cut down the trees, brush hog the shrubs and annihilate everything that provides food and shelter for
wildlife. So, when RR bought the woods several years ago we who respect the natural world were ecstatic to have found
a soul mate. He allows no hunting, trapping, ATV's or anything else disruptive to wildlife. All was well until yesterday.
As the dogs and I entered RR's land the first thing I noticed was tire
tracks in the grassy area near the road. In the woods the trail had literally been swept clean. Not even a tiny
stick littered the path, but tire marks were plentiful. This ‘clean up' was certainly not the work of RR.
About ¾ of the way around the trail I spotted a large live trap recently baited with marshmallows and a peanut butter
sandwich. After springing the trap I hurried home and called RR to report my findings. He was at work.
His mother said it most definitely was not RR's doing. He
hadn't even been to the woods for three weeks, but that under no circumstances was any trapping or hunting permitted. Only
I and the riders have permission to be there. She said she was sure he would be out to investigate when he returned
from work. Only a few hours had passed when the stable owner called to tell me some riders from her barn had been forced
to leave the woods because of "some guy with a shotgun." This too was reported.
While RR is a very nice fellow, he is not assertive. The person responsible
for the recent takeover of the woods is an arrogant guy whom old Kenny has had to reprimand twice for trespassing on his land.
The conceited trespasser pays no heed to Kenny because Kenny is old. He pays no heed to RR's many signs posting the
land because RR does not live nearby. This creep thinks he can do as he pleases, but the wildlife and all of us who cherish
the woodland are in jeopardy as he freely assaults Nature.
to say this situation is very worrisome. To be continued....
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
1:15 pm edt
An ambitious woodpecker is pounding the heck out of the window trim outside my office.
The cedar looks like Swiss cheese and should be replaced, but I've just added this project to my ‘to do' list which
grows longer with each passing day.
I stopped by to drop off Ginny's belated 101st birthday present. She had just gone inside and was happy to
see me. "I bought myself a new electric weed whacker," she said. "It was just gettin' too hard
to pull the rope on that gas one, but I had to quit because the wind almost knocked me over."
Ginny weighs about 90 pounds tops, so it's a miracle she wasn't blown away
in the 50 mph gusts. She is an amazing person. While a lot of healthy young people hire lawn services for their
postage stamp size lots, this tiny old lady hops on her tractor, mows a couple of acres of grass including both sides of the
long steep lane leading from the road to her hilltop house, then revs up her brand new weed whacker to finish the job. She's
also planning her vegetable garden, but thinks maybe she'll have someone else roto till it this year.
Ginny is a real super woman. I returned home feeling like a real slacker!
Monday, April 16, 2012
12:56 pm edt
Jack arrived with his rototiller and as we walked toward the garden area we were
met by an unexpected guest. The rat snake which measured about 42" long coiled at our approach and did his best
impersonation of a rattlesnake, shaking his tail and trying to look menacing. When he realized we posed no threat he
continued on his northward path into the barnyard while I raced to get the camera. Rat snakes are popular as ‘pets,'
but I prefer them outside in their natural environment. To me, dogs and cats are ‘pets.' Snakes are wildlife.
(I don't dare mention this visitor to neighbor Sandy (my critter sitter) as she is terrified of serpents.)
After the tilling was complete the finishing crew arrived. LB and
Honey have inspected the job and pronounced it satisfactory. Jack and I entered the kitchen so I could pay him for his
much-appreciated, back-saving work. As he stood next to the counter he noted that there was half a mouse in front of the stove.
I suspect this was the work of Sissy, the trophy hunter. I heaved the carcass out the back door, then finished writing
Living in the country isn't for everyone.
I have a friend who would have had to take a drink or a nerve pill if she encountered either of today's visitors. While
I'm not keen on cats bringing their half-consumed kills into the house, the unexpected snake visit was just part of what makes
my small country life rewarding.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
NEW SPRING ARRIVALS.
8:40 pm edt
The Peaceable Kingdom Farm is happy to announce that Spotty Dot delivered healthy
twins this morning. Although she sat on four eggs, one egg mysteriously ended up fractured in the last trimester.
I hoped it might still be viable, but one morning last week I discovered that it had simply vanished without a trace.
The third egg was half-hatched this morning and contained a large stillborn yellow chick. Dead as a mackerel.
The ‘twins' and mother are doing well and are safely ensconced in the neo-natal ward; aka the hay room. With a
bit of luck these newbees will not be roosters.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
11:04 pm edt
sure I rant about how naughty the badder of the bad asses is (Corky), but the last thing I ever wanted to see was #1 bad ass
laying flat out looking as if he were about to draw his final breath. Panic!
It was nearly dusk when I entered
the barnyard and there laid Corky at the base of the ramp leading to the stall. (He never lies in this area, preferring
a sun-drenched field.) He never lays down outside at this time of the day!! I ran to his side. He looked at me
and said, "Yeh, what do you want? Can't you see I'm resting?"
I got him to his feet and checked
him over, presuming it was colic, but there were none of the obvious signs. I made phone calls to the experts and was
advised to, "Watch him..." which I did the rest of the evening. I'm happy to report he is fine and right back
to his old tricks. Today he was inside the soon-to-be-demolished chicken pen. I'm sure that he and Andy will be
supervising the construction of the new enclosure.
Needless to say, I am very relieved that the #1 bad ass
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
3:15 pm edt
"I know you think I'm lazy, but really I'm not. If you only knew
how hard the past couple of years have been for me, being not all that healthy and just trying to stay alive you'd understand
why I spend so much time in bed or eating nowadays," explained Rattycat (AKA RC).
Since trapping, neutering and vetting the formerly-feral feline he has proven to be quite a conundrum.
Unlike all the other animals here RC does not get along or play well with anything; not cats, dogs, or even the chickens.
They all give him a wide berth. His purring and stretching and attempts to look lovable led me to think it was safe
to pet him. Wrong. Before I could blink he reverted to his old wild ways and viciously scratched me. He
eats more than my other seven cats combined, but when confronted with this apparent gluttony he justified his hearty appetite.
"Hey, it was darned hard for me to find a meal before I came here.
There were often days on end when I had nothing at all to eat. Winter was especially hard. You
wonder why I had parasites? YOU try living on mice, birds and rabbits for a couple of years and see what happens!
More than once I was almost lunch for the coyotes. I learned to fight and to defend myself. I had to just to survive."
Ashamed of my stinginess I gave him an extra serving of Friskees.
He still purrs, stretches and tries to be adorable and so I pet him frequently, but with a long handled snow brush.
He enjoys it and the regular grooming is making his ratty patchy fur almost lustrous.
The garden shed is nothing to compare with the house cats' accommodations.
It's just a repository for garden-related stuff and the recycle bins, but RC has laid claim to the shed. He stays in there
all day long, sometimes peeking out of the mouse hole at the bottom of the door, but mostly lounging on his down pillow with
the fleece cover. I suspect he ventures out at night as his previous life probably involved nocturnal prowling.
It's not likely that he will ever evolve to be like the other friendly
cats, but now that he's explained himself that's okay. He's not a joyful or a pleasurable cat, but watching him regain
his health and seeing him become just a tad more trusting has been gratifying. Caring for RC is my daily good deed.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
HAPPINESS IS A NEW TOY--OR TWO NEW TOYS...
9:36 am edt
After setting up an ICU for Stuart Little, complete with heat, food and safety features,
I regret to report that the infant died of complications resulting from the trauma he suffered at the paws and mouths of renegade
cats. There will be no calling hours.
that my daughter and I have somehow become the patron saints of rodents. When someone left a pet rat in a box at an
abandoned house last week my daughter had no option but to bring the friendly Ms. Ratatouille home. Jill says she is
quite a character, but sadly like many domesticated rats she is suffering from a rapidly-growing breast tumor. The good
news is that our veterinarian friend is going to perform a radical mastectomy. No cosmetic reconstruction is planned.
Ms. R. is up for adoption, but only to someone with rat experience who appreciates what delightful pets they can be.
Friend Patti dropped by for a visit, bringing with her two stuffed toys
for the dogs. Julie immediately chose the small white toy while Ted grabbed the big green Kermit the frog. The
only thing Ted enjoys more than new toys is the chance to show off for company, so when he noticed that Julie was getting
a lot of oo's and ah's as she romped with her new toy Ted went into action.
"What the heck...," he said in his gruff dog voice snatching Julie's new plaything from her.
"Don't you know that all toys are mine?"
Returning with both toys in his mouth he was once again the center of attention. Ted is a very happy
Sunday, April 8, 2012
IT WAS PROBABLY A MISTAKE...
5:02 pm edt
The congregation of cats on the deck signaled trouble. They don't usually sit
in a circle taking turns at the object of their attention, first one batting at it and then the next; participants
in some sadistic game. It was probably a mistake to intervene, but I did. Only the barest flicker of life remained
as I snatched the icy little body from its tormentors.
so now here I sit with that small creature huddled under the hem of my sweater to keep it warm while I type. It's eyes
are hardly open and who knows where its mother and siblings might be. I've unwittingly become its foster mother if it
survives and I think it will. Since it's warmed it's become more animated.
It looks like a boy, so what do I do with Stuart Little now that I've rescued him and brought him into a
house where seven cats live, five of whom were responsible for his current situation? The same five who found this baby
far more fun than the catnip mouse they bat around on the wood floors. I'll have to establish a mouse nursery.
What will he eat? My wildlife rehab friend won't be available until tomorrow. Will he live that long?
When you save a life you become forever responsible for that life. It was probably a mistake,
Saturday, April 7, 2012
5:26 pm edt
'Went to the flea market this morning and the place was really hopping on this perfect
spring day. Lucky Ted got a new toy, so he is one happy dog. I was tempted to buy corn on the cob, but it was from Florida
and it goes against my principals to purchase food that has traveled so far if it can be avoided and certainly corn from Floriday
in April could be avoided. My dinner guests tonight will have to be content with less exotic fare.
Friday, April 6, 2012
6:33 pm edt
Ted's favorite toy is a disgusting blue phallic-looking thing.
It's the only indestructible dog toy he's ever had, but today Poppy laid claim to it. This blog was never intended to
be sexually provocative, but this 'kitty porn' was just too good not to share.
It was probably a big mistake, but today Peggy got a taste of the great out of doors and she loved it, especially
after discovering how much fun it was to stalk the chickens. She lurked in the lilies. She hid in the tall grass.
She crouched on the step waiting for the unsuspecting parade of poultry to make its way across the deck. After several
hysterical explosions that sent feathers flying in all directions the birds decided they had had quite enough of the little
tormentor. Acting as referee Ted kept a close eye on the final stand-off.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
IT'S MORE THAN JUST A CAT.
6:02 pm edt
Today was one of those days when I knew I should be doing one thing, but
I opted to do something else. I have no regrets. In addition to a magazine article I'm working on about
a musk oxen conservancy, I'm also working on the PR for The Stray Cat Strut, a fundraiser for my daughter's cat rescue.
While it might seem that working in the garden rather than toiling at the computer on this sunny afternoon would be counterproductive,
just the opposite was true.
My mind wandered
freely as I hauled pine needle-mulch to an area that has bothered me for years because of its undefined borders and hodge-podge
vegetation. Wheeling load after load from a pine grove to the now neatly-defined area I found myself thinking about
the hidden benefits of my daughter's efforts.
day she calls with reports on cats she has trapped that day and taken to the clinic to be spayed or neutered, cats she's in
the process of trapping or calls she's received about cats needing to be trapped. Very often the people who call Jill
for assistance are elderly. To them, she is more than just someone they hope will help stem an explosive cat population.
She is someone who takes the time to listen and to respond to their calls. She is someone who understands that the cats
mean something to them. 'Someone who knows that the caller sincerely cares about the animals that have come to depend on them
for food, but now things have gotten out of control and they have nowhere to turn. These callers want to do the right
thing, but they may lack the resources, the physical ability or transportation, so to them, Jill is a godsend.
"Cora called to check on Stuart Little...," she often remarks.
Cora is a perfect example of some of the seniors that call Jill. After Cora's cat situation was stabilized, Jill found
a home for a special one and now Cora calls her weekly with the pretense of checking to see how that kitty is doing.
She regales Jill with reports on the others, but we both know Cora just likes having someone to talk to about "her cats."
Another person Jill helped a couple of years ago recently
told me, "You know, when Jill gave me this cat, she literally saved my life ...." Having experienced a personal
loss, few would have guessed that a homeless cat would make such a difference in someone's life, but it did.
So, whenever I hear someone dismiss the significance of animal welfare
activists it infuriates me. Intelligent people know the physical and emotional impact animals have on humans.
Helping one species helps another. Too bad not everyone "gets' this.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
7:30 pm edt
I took a break from mowing and sat on the ‘beach' overlooking scummy pond today.
The water level has dropped about 20". Weeds and grass struggle and die on the newly-exposed banks. It's
a mess, but the dogs and the frogs don't seem to notice.
up the bank a blanket of violets and spring beauties bloom and stretch into the old orchard. Already the first daffodils
have withered, but the second crop is just coming into blossom. I just had to sit there and admire all that beauty before
it fades. Wildflowers are so much more enjoyable than the gardens that demand so much work.
Monday, April 2, 2012
8:36 pm edt
It's usually pretty quiet out here, so when sirens slice through the birdsong and
wind chimes we all take notice. A couple of weeks ago a huge chorus of sirens disrupted our rural tranquility.
Neighborhood news reporter Sandy had the scoop.
set his field on fire and it got out of control. It was headed toward the oil well, so he got in his car and left. It
got so big they had to call fire departments from other townships to put it out."
Wilson is old Kenny's buddy and like Kenny he's somewhat eccentric, but very practical, hence the hasty retreat
from the blaze. It's never a good idea to stick around when a well blows up. I've only seen Wilson a couple of times at township
meetings, but he is stunning with a shock of white hair and electric-blue eyes that lend a Paul Newman sort of old man handsomeness.
And like Kenny, he's single although he may
have been married at some point. Sandy's not sure, but says he has spent his life acquiring property and that he owns
much of the township. She says he is fantastically wealthy. Whether any of this is true, I don't know, but wouldn't
it be great fun to be a fly on the wall during one of Kenny and Wilson's visits. They probably talk about preferred fire accelerants.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
THE PLEASURES OF POULTRY.
5:06 pm edt
Gladys spends a lot of time peering into the house. There are three doors,
all with full length glass, so if she doesn't see me in one room she scurries to peek into another. It is always Gladys,
not one of the Pips. A distinctive muddy-looking mark on her tail feathers is the giveaway. I used to think it
was dirt, but it is in fact a feather coloration.
proverbial pecking order is well established and each chicken has assigned duties. Gladys' seem to be procurer of treats.
She's pretty sure that if I see her something tasty will materialize for her and her pals. Today she polished her technique
a bit. At first I thought it was a visitor knocking at the back door, but while the figure did have two legs, it was
not a human. It was Gladys pecking at the glass. "Hey, we're hungry out here. What do you have to eat?"
I grabbed the remaining spelt raisin bread, tore it into chunks and tossed it to the beggars who obligingly ate it.
As I type LB is on the deck crowing his loudest to
get my attention. His legs are noticeably smoother looking thanks to his nightly Crisco oil treatments. I wonder
if the company would be interested in using this information in their advertising. Probably not. Cooperative as LB is,
the ritual is messy and invariably I end up with about as much Crisco on me as LB has on his legs, so I've improvised a sort
of rain coat. I'm now wearing a garbage bag 'scrub suit' for the nightly procedure. My life is not a glamorous
As I donned the one-size-fits-all, black gear with cheery blue pull ties I thought about the costs vs. benefits
of keeping chickens. Their grain has gone from $6.00 a bag (twenty years ago...) to $16.00 a bag. Keeping their
coop clean is dirty work and their frequent demands interrupt my days. If I did not have these birds I would have more
money, more time and less work, but would I have the delicious and nutritious eggs they provide? No. Would I miss
the way they race from wherever they happen to be to heed my call, "Come on girls." Yes, I would. They
make me smile. While cleaning their stinky coop I remind myself that poultry manure has the highest nitrogen content
and so I'm lucky to have this natural fertilizer for the gardens.
I guess I've convinced myself
that the benefits outweigh the costs and having a character like Gladys is just a bonus.