Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bye bye, birdies

(Written this summer)

I have a sad tale to tell. Don't worry, it is not quite a tragedy, and no one dies. Yet, it involved saying farewell to some dear feathered friends and our hopes of our own fresh eggs.

The birds had seemed happy in their newly moved coop and run. They were nearly six months old, the golden age when chickens usually start producing their little treasures for their fond owners to eat. We
were all fond of them, and still thrilled with our counter-cultural experiment that seemed so obviously practical. "Why doesn't everyone have chickens in their backyard?" I kept asking. Though we were still a bit anxious that neighbors not become bothered by our fowl, their quiet clucking was never anything so loud as some dogs' racket.

Our story started one fine morning around 6:15. It was fine, that is, until we were awakened to a horribly croaking squawk from the back yard. First I thought maybe a neighborhood cat had found it's way into the coop and was killing my birds. But on investigation, there seemed nothing wrong with them at all. They took turns making the dreadful noise. I tried talking with them, pleading with them, distracting them with fresh food and water. But in vain.

Then I found an egg.

It was cracked, as the first ones are generally weak-shelled. And I remembered that of course, this is what they do when they begin their egg laying. They have no clue what's going on! Later when they figure out they aren't dying, they just make very loud pleased sounds.
A couple things

I should mention about this neighborhood. It is not wealthy or extravagant, but tidy and neat and well-trimmed, like a middle-aged business woman who likes people to be predictable and respectable. It is not the country, not does it seem to show any signs of encouraging farm-like, country-ish endeavors. The houses are rather close together, too. People there, especially in summer, are most likely
not eagerly getting up at 6 a.m. to listen with pleasure to what sounds like a chicken's dying shrieks.

I can't say I would blame them. I could have enjoyed just a bit more sleep myself.

Well, we could not just let the dear old things croak away until we had an angry mob at the back gate. I could see that happening any minute. We hastily constructed cages out of crates and boxes and put the noisy things in the garage, which thankfully muffled some of the noise. Then it was a somber time in the house, a time of facing the facts.

We decided that, as good an idea as it had been, we had to say farewell to the feathered ladies. For the sake of peace and tranquility.

Then there was the question of what to do with them. No, I was not ready for chicken soup...not quite. Their noise was maddening, but they were my friends. And am not yet a tough enough country girl to learn to wring or slit necks. Thankfully, after a few phone calls, we found them a good home out in the country, with a sweet former homeschooling family, amongst other birds of their own feather.

Besides coming home to an empty, dejected coop, the saddest moment was after Mrs. L and I put the chickens in their new home. She reached into a few nesting boxes and gave me seven lovely eggs to take home. White, brown, and a beautiful blue-green. The colors of eggs I would have bean gathering every day, if it were not for

The Noisiness of Croaking Hens and the Nearness of Cityfolk Houses.

(Could be a book, hu? Or maybe a 50s-style sci-fi film, with creepy music and corny special effects?)

Things gained from the Chicken Experience:

1 - Before starting any such crazy project as backyard chicken raising, one should do extensive research! It would have saved lots of time, supplies, chicken feed, and emotions to have remembered or known how loud they would be. Sounding louder, of course, because they were so near neighboring houses. With some things, I'm sure it works just fine to jump in and learn as you go. But that didn't work for us and chickens.

- Even though the Chicken enterprise didn't work the way we hoped, I learned a lot, and hopefully can someday have a chance to try again. Perhaps I might live in the country again. In the meanwhile, I am firmly resolved to keep my hand striving after ways to live frugally, creatively, and to be a homemaker and farm-girl in all the ways I can that don't endanger any chance of friendships with the folks next door or across the alley.

3 - Because of getting in touch with the L. family again, I've since been buying their eggs at an extremely reasonable rate. which is a blessing. At least I do get to enjoy "my" chickens' eggs, even if I can't see their perky selves each day. We've even enjoyed a few guinea eggs now and then, too! I've been encouraged by this opportunity to buy locally, to have such a connection to what I'm feeding my family, not to mention a deepening relationship with a godly Christian farm lady who won't hesitate to step into the chicken coop in heels and a skirt. :)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

After a Summer's Silence

My dear friends, and whoever else might chance upon my blog:

The summer has come and gone, without seeing one new thing posted here. So, to summarize high points of our crazy wonderful lives,

  • finished painting, yard-saleing, and moving!
  • learned to park the suburban in the back, between the car and fence, without fear of wrecking (Hurrah!)
  • led a journaling workshop for girls
  • visited family in Colorado, old friends in New Mexico, and were visited by family in Texas.
  • mother taught two weeks of art camp for kids at a museum, and I got to help!
  • drove across parts of east Texas several times. Every other hill or so, my mother would say it was her favorite part of Texas. She said the same thing while we drove across New Mexico and Colorado, too... ;)
  • watched the 7-and-1/2-hour-long Bleak House mini-series (*cough* twice *cough*) and plunged into the even-better book. Astonished and falling quite in love with Dickens' writing. Such characters he paints, and with such paint!
  • wrote a good bit of my novel
  • drank lots of coffee
  • read lots of books
  • watched too many movies while drinking tea with fellow conspirators, my mom and youngest brother
  • made lunches
  • cleaned (now and then)
  • organized
  • listened to audio dramas and books on tape/CD/MP3
  • ate oranges
  • discovered the most scrumptious chocolate coffee cake recipe
  • sewed cloaks
  • journaled
  • played in rain
  • laughed
  • cried
  • pondered
  • puzzled
  • and even went roller skating, with much fun and bruises
It was busy, varied, and I hope God-honoring. I'll try to come around more often. The fall writing bug has bitten me bad lately. And it's been rainy and cool, perfect writing weather! So beware! The main danger to my writing is finding too much good stuff to read. ;)