This is the Chicken Commune. It wasn't called that until yesterday evening when it was so buggy (which made me think, for some reason, that they really ought to be let out to graze on the long grass I've been growing for them) I let the chickens out for happy hour (I learned that from El). Mine have to be somewhat contained because my garden is not and they head right for it (except on the periphery). There is only Little Girl and me to chase four mature birds out of five patches and while we're probably pretty funny to watch it just doesn't work all that well; it's us who ends up trampling the corn patch. I pulled the fencing around the existing posts, pulled the barn gate I just KNEW would come in handy when I bought it from the man on Craigslist about six weeks ago (around here if your stall gate isn't bloody perfect they make you install a new gate) up against the upright rock I planted maybe two years back (and I just KNEW I put that there for a reason) and the side of the deck and was done with it. There. Mobile fencing. Not the least bit permanent. Can't really take my eyes off them because they will escape if they think about it hard enough but just enough of a barrier so that we don't have to run after them perpetually. I sat down in my Adirondack with Little Girl and we just hung.
In the heat.
A word about the heat, and I'm lifting this statement directly from last night's Facebook status (slightly edited because I'm not in bed in this telling yet):
Sometime in mid to late February there was 9 feet of snow in my backyard and for the first time ever I had no idea where to put the snow in the driveway. It was cold, dark, miserable and the storms came one after another without much relief. Tonight it is a brilliant, balmy fabulous 94 degrees in my mosquito infested backyard (and we LOVES us some deet) and I'm going to sit here, watch my chickens and soak it all up...
Back to my point. This isn't the best shot I could get of what goes on behind my house or what you might see if you opened the gate and walked around what starts out (and stays because it's worn that way) a neat little dog path worn down to the ground but it is what I was looking at last night. I could have shown you the back deck. Or the back porch. Or the old chicken run for the older meat birds that isn't in use yet. Or the pile of wood left over from the swing-set coming down that hasn't been put to use yet. Or what is left of the old fencing torn down from last year. I could point out the chicken feathers that are literally embedded into the dog patch because this is where I do the plucking of all those meat birds and no matter how well I clean up there are always enough left over that we end up with a chicken feather path. I could have given you a bird's eye view of the entire thing I suppose but then you wouldn't really have seen it.
My point is when I moved in here five years ago this was a beautifully manicured backyard with a well maintained deck with absolutely lovely deck and porch furniture. Even after Nomans moved out it still looked pretty good that first year because I was just getting geared up at that point. It is now, as far as I'm concerned, a working farm. I no longer care what the hell it looks like because what it looks like no longer has any bearing on what occurs back there.
People have trouble with that.
To date I don't believe anyone has walked back there without flinching. OK, maybe Florkow. Maybe. Probably. You'll have to weigh in on that, Florkow. Oh, yes, Cielo too, she was here with Wubby last October but you know, Cielo, you don't really count because your expectations have never been entirely reset.
So it comes down to expectation. I can tell you all sorts of things but your expectation is still firmly embedded in your head. The recently jettisoned creature (and it appears I will NOT have to be obtaining a restraining order after all although you never can be too sure and I'm still locking my doors and I'm still utterly grateful for his big bad self who I should have listened to in the first place because his big bad self's first and only instinct WAS TO EAT HIM) referred to it as unkempt. My response was, that's funny, you should have seen it last week.
I should put my tools away. This is true. They will live a lot longer if I do. Also I will know where they are. The cat carrier on it's side? Not that big a deal. Besides, if I put all those things mentioned above away I would have to build a very large barn and also spend a good deal of my time... now notice this... I am defending myself. Do you see?
THAT part right there is not OK with me because what goes on behind my house is not only OK with me but perfect in just about every sense of the word or, to borrow from a friend, it is so good that it does not have to be perfect.
Pataskala,this is for you if you're reading because I think you'll really enjoy this (you kind of had to be there, it's from one of those email lists of 'are you old enough to remember these things as if they are dead and gone now). Last night these things happened:
- I carried 24 gallons of water to the garden and 4 to the poultry (plumbing to the outside still needs to be addressed and in the mean time the food and the animals still need quite a bit of water in this heated dry spell we're having)
- I told Little Girl to wash her neck and face along with her hands before dinner
- I told Little Girl to wash her feet before she went to bed because she'd been playing outside barefoot all afternoon
- I told both girls to take off their school and work clothes (in Little Girl's case it was dance uniform) before they went outside. Me? I'm an idiot. I covered mine in bug spray but at least I traded my shoes for flip flops.
- I told Lucia to open up that window and let some air into this house!
- I thought long and hard about NOT letting that damn mud ball in the house but in he came anyway
- There were more but I'll stop there. I think that's enough retro humor for the day.
Well, don't you know, the Woodchuck Woman is off to work to pay the mortgage on the farm with what should be considered a false front that does a damn fine job sheltering what I've managed to build myself from (I'm paraphrasing again) people possibly not so sensitive to what might as well have been dropped down from the middle of nowhere (oh just pick somewhere that's not exactly right here).
There is something remarkably freeing about putting it all right out there though. Makes me smile.