Out For Black And White

This morning, I skipped down the backyard stairs at 6:50 a.m. and saw an unfamiliar bird chickening outside the lines. My feet felt flat. I didn’t believe my eyes. I turned toward our chicken run and didn’t see anything unusual. The gate was closed. The roof was tacked down. I looked around the fence corner and there was still a chicken I didn’t recognize running next to the maple tree at the back of the yard. I walked around the tree and there was a second unfamiliar chicken running away from me. Now I am either having two separate chicken-based hallucinations or –

Suspicious chicken is suspicious.

We’re very close, by which I mean near, especially when I’m holding food.

I spun around toward the chicken coop in the neighbors’ yard. The door was open. We’ve had trash cans turned over, so Pete and I know there’s a raccoon in the neighborhood. I did not want to see any of the chickens tartared across the lawn, so I turned back to our coop and called for the chicken we now call Cat, or the Artist Formerly Known As Other Chicken, either way. After a few seconds, she climbed down out of the coop and I poured cantaloupe guts where she likes to nosh. She complained briefly about the inferior service in this joint, but that was somewhat reassuring. I shooed the unfamiliar chickens through a rose bush back to their own yard. Inside the house, I fretted.

Yes, I chased them around a tree.

These hens are not my friends.

Tata: Hey, the door to the coop of the People of the Chickens is open and the chickens are running loose. Are you in contact with any of those people?

Pete: Nooooo. I hate them!

Tata: Do you think I should tell them about their loose chickens?

Pete: Absolutely!

At 7 a.m., I found myself standing at the one breach of our fence between the two yards. Unfortunately, there was no breach in their chicken wire and overgrown pokeweed beyond the edge of their garden, and in the corner, only a composter would provide me any support. For a minute, I stood there, wishing like mad there was some other way to alert the sleepy people, but there wasn’t. My Heroic! plan was to knock on the back door until someone answered and rescued the clamoring chickens, who were at that moment gleefully tearing up the lawn. At least they were happy! I briefly considered my dignity, remembered I didn’t have any and climbed over the fence, leaning on the composter.

My feet landed in someone else’s garden bed. I hopped in circles between rows and toward the edge of the garden bed. Suddenly, I saw the very old, very deaf dog asleep on the back porch. I like that dog. She barks all day at falling leaves. But she was a dog and I was invading her turf. So I marched a quiet, careful path down the driveway and up the front steps. I knocked and nothing happened. I knocked. Knocked. Knocked. I could see lights. These people have a baby that cries all the time so they weren’t asleep, but they didn’t answer. I rang the doorbell, knocked some more and admitted defeat. I abandoned my Heroic! plan, walked around the block, up my back steps and went to work, where my co-workers expressed surprise that I might still be able to hop a fence. It’s a gift, I told them, like knowing when to leave a party or which Senator is lying, as in all of them.

This afternoon, all the chickens of the People of the Chickens are safely behind bars, and I am glad because I am not climbing that fence again without dog treats in my pocket and a better plan.

A Rocket To the Ocean

Go, Speed Racer!

My organic farming class visited an organic farm, walked through organic fields, admired organic crops, sampled organic strawberries and coveted this interesting tractor. I’ve never coveted a tractor before and never figured out where I’d keep it if I stole it and drove 30 miles to my tiny town at 10 mph. This experience has been full of tingly firsts.

Here We Manufacture Dreams

The garden was planted, then the squirrels dug up everything but the garlic. Pete and I put up a chicken wire Flora Fortress two weekends ago. Most of the lacerations have finally healed! The garden is replanted, life goes on.

Tata, plant a thing!

Blank canvas.

This afternoon, I seeded three more big planters. Almost every inch of space available to me in my postage stamp-sized yard has something planted in it or growing out of it. I sit on the top step of the back stairs, looking at the garden, waiting for an idea, looking for something I haven’t seen before. I am never disappointed. At the university, I’m taking a class in small-scale organic farming and learning a great deal of useful information. For instance, I had never heard anyone say you should plant seeds no deeper than the size of the seed below the soil surface, but that is considered the best practice. Did you know you can’t grow a single blueberry bush, they need friends? I came home from class and put two blueberry bushes next to the one that was doing absolutely nothing. I could go on!

No matter what, though: you still plant, you water and wait, worry and protect. I am not patient! Little plants, listen to your mama: GROW.