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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Chicken rodeo

Chicken rodeo[posted by risa]

The jury duty thing was a bit of a bust. Have a seat, watch the movie (about the constitution we once had) and get divided into four groups. The Bulldogs and Mutts were sent in for selection, and the Labs and Beagles (I was a Beagle) were let go. It took about four hours.

I got to know a Lab while we waited. She has a Finnish daughter-in-law and about half an hour into the conversation mentioned she has been reading to her grandchildren from the Moomin books.

"We used to read to the kids from those."

"Oh, I've never met anyone who knows a thing about them!" Suddenly we were bosom buddies and comparing notes on our descendants scattered across the earth.

I mentioned that my oldest would be forty on his next birthday.

"No! Well. Well, you must have been quite the child bride!"

Something like that.


Daughter (whom you may know as Grinin) came to our house, with Young Man, and Last Son, to celebrate her birthday. Last Son brought along his first batch of brew, which had turned out well -- I'm told. I wouldn't know -- I was away doing a Freedom Fund dinner and missed much of the party, including all of the beer. When I arrived, everyone was pretty much mellowed out, including Beloved.

While we all were visiting, I got out the breadmaker, cleaned it up as best I could, put in the spare paddle, the manual, the recipe book, and a yeast packet and gave them to Daughter. It might be a good introduction to breads for her, and a chance for me to get a piece of kitchen machinery out of the house. I had baked a loaf for them that turned out especially well, using just the big bowl and a wooden spatula for the mixing, and felt brave enough. This will turn out to have been a good idea if my arthritis doesn't advance on me any time soon.

Today it was 66 degrees Fahrenheit. Maybe not a a record but not what one expects this time of the year. Things were busting out all over. Snakes were sunning themselves, something we don't often see until June, and the mason bees went crazy in the pussy willows. I cut some wood, did repairs to the drains, cleaned up around the fruit trees where I had been pruning, and hauled about eight loads of grass clippings to the garden. I took the rake down to the garden to spread the clippings, then suddenly wished I could have the chickens level them out for me. I went looking for Beloved.

She had gone back to bed briefly and had been napping, some we're doing more and more of in the daytime, but waved me over.

"How about if we were to put just, say, two chickens in garden for the day, you know, just hand-carry them over? The ones that squat down when you go up to them and are easy to pick up?"

"Wouldn't that be a kind of a Chicken Rodeo getting them back up to the pen?"

"How so?"

"Well, we'd be chasing them around in the garden and compacting it."

"No, no, I thought maybe they'd, you know, do their submissive thingy just like they do in the pen and we could carry them back up there, no sweat. Whaddya think?"

"I think we might just try it. I was gonna do inside things next but I'll dress for the barnyard and be there in a bit."

I went out to the filbert, which needed its suckers removed (and made into pea brush), and wielded the loppers until Beloved showed up by the garden gate with a hen under each arm. I held it open for them and in they went.

There was some nervous clucking for about five seconds, and then one of them scratched tentatively at the winter mulch, tipped her head over to eyeball the results, and then it was like -- oh! Hey!! Come over here and check this out!!! They were sold.

Beloved watched them for about thirty seconds, and then went up to the barn for another pair.

The next time I went by the garden, every chicken on the place was in there.

What it's going to be like to round them up, I have no idea. Some, especially among the Araucanas, are not as into being transported as others.

But they are certainly very, very happy right now.



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