You may or may not recall that I’ve worked for the unnamed university a really long time. Tomorrow, that really long time becomes 33 years. In an intriguing coincidence, last week there was a meeting in which my department was reorganized and suddenly I didn’t work for Gianna after 21 years. I’m not a crying-in-the-meeting kind of woman, but this was fucking rough.
Welp, funny thing: for about five years, I was bored and asking to learn about particular things, and Gianna granted my requests. Oddly enough, when the department was divided in thirds, I ended up in a purchasing group because I understood how certain kinds of orders functioned. Although I’m like 900 years old, I am actually a toddler in cool shoes, and my being there is practically child labor, so it’s startling anyone lets me play with money.
Note: I do not play with money. I’m too pretty for prison.
This is all to say that though my life with Pete is reasonably stable and happy, the rest of my life is in flux. My mentally ill mother has turned into a racist granny who isn’t sure I should have access to her family’s genealogy information because her paranoia hasn’t reckoned on publicly held information being on Ancestry.com. My father-in-law hasn’t spent much time with Pete and me because his cancer treatment has made the long drives between our houses difficult. It’s just about time to harvest the last of the summer vegetables from the garden and empty most of the small planters and boxes. Even without the influence of political events, I can feel change coming.
I’m having a Be careful what you wish for moment, since I got that, but the finance people also got me. I wonder what they wished for. Was it a co-worker who shows up in pajamas and makes them go outdoors even when it’s raining? Because they are about to get that.
Months ago, one of little Swedish Black hens and sometimes Chicken Chicken started kicking up fusses just after dawn. Local ordinances forbid residents from keeping roosters because sunrise squawking makes the neighbors cranky. Anyway, In June and July, I found myself running down the stairs before dawn and out the back door to shush chickens almost every day. Andie, who is not an early riser, was calling the little hen “Chicken Soup.” I developed a plan: we would identify which of the hens was the complainer, if there was only one, through the clever use of chicken jewelry. Yes, I bought different colored plastic leg bands. Andie and I chased the nearly identical chickens until we caught them and gave them name tags. Sort of. We determined that the tiny hen with the white leg band, LaVerne, was our vocalist.
The professor from the organic farming course of last summer agreed to take LaVerne to the Chicken McMansion on her farm. When the day came, Ellen arrived with a cat carrier. Andie was working, so I resigned myself to chasing LaVerne without backup.
You haven’t lived until you’ve climbed halfway into a chicken coop in your street clothes. Remind me to burn these garments later.
This went on for quite a while. Before I climbed in here, I’d warned Pete, “You have two jobs here: take pictures and heckling.” As you can see, it’s not easy to photograph a chicken roundup. Or my butt.
Finally, I got my hands on the little bird, who pecked my hands, but settled right into Ellen’s arms. After a few minutes, we stuffed LaVerne into the cat carrier and off they went. I still get up before sunrise most days, but with the solstice behind us and the equinox ahead, that time is a bit later every morning. Chicken Chicken, without the goading of her sidekick, sleeps in. This morning, I didn’t see her in the run until just after 7.
Ellen says she holds LaVerne in her arms all the time. I could never get near her. It was obviously meant to be.
And now, an interesting travelogue, if you don’t mind.
Go ahead: google “locusts chicken army” or “locusts duck army.” Nobody can resist an awful pun. Pesticides are nasty shit. If you have bugs, what you need are chickens or ducks.
Okay, maybe not rich, but not at all bored. Some vineyards deploy ducks to tackle pest problems. I can see myself rolling up to a winery with my team of hungry chickens help them solve their unpleasant problem. In fact, I’m picturing a bottle of gratitude now.