Monday, May 26, 2014

A Funny Thing

This afternoon I was feeding and watering the chickens and a thought almost bowled me over, which would have been pretty easy because I was squatting in the coop with an old skirt wadded up around me. My brother built the coop, which has a high-rise, insulated nesting penthouse, and my sister-in-law selected and raised the chicks from wee little hatchlings. 

That little fuzzy thing in the back right corner is our silky rooster. He's a bit of a freak with 7 toes on each foot and feathers in weird places. But he's our freak rooster.
Even with the pups (over 80 pounds each now) running laps around the coop, the hens were placid and I took a moment to pick up "Sleepy" and cuddle her a bit. One night recently, one of the girls managed to squirm their way out the coop door somehow. Mom discovered it when Lucy (our girl Great Dane) wouldn't leave the coop when called. Mom found Lucy herding the AWOL hen against the front of the coop. Lucy wouldn't let that bird go around the little building or anywhere. She wasn't interested in biting or being aggressive at all. She let Mom pick up the hen and return it to the coop with no problem, then happily followed Mom back to the house. 

About that thought that struck me this afternoon in the coop. Fifteen or so years ago, when I was a temporary flat-lander in the eastern part of the state, I never would have imagined myself in a chicken coop. Sure, I was raised in the rural mountains and most of my childhood was spent outside, especially at my mother's parents' house, where gardening, canning, and chicken coops were just a normal part of life. But for over ten years I was at college or working in the Triangle area of North Carolina. I became expert at navigating aggressive urban traffic and became picky about my wine, my coffee, and, later, my tequila. I wore high heels, danced till last call, and when my first marriage crashed and burned spectacularly, I bought a townhouse on my own. I shopped at Target, not Wal-mart. You all know what I mean. I was still a t-shirt and jeans girl, but those denims were low-slung at the waist and flared at the ankle (it was the late 90's and early turn of the century, after all). I am not afraid to flaunt that long ago image because these days I'm a humble 75 pounds heftier than I was back then. 

It took less than a year after that separation for me to crumble. Not completely, of course. Hitting rock bottom would come about six or seven years later. But, life is good. Just not easy to peg down with expectations or well-laid plans. I'm now a teetotaler and I'm happy with just about any old coffee, as long as its strong. Every single pair of jeans that I can now fit these curves into, and not feel smothered, have been picked up from Goodwill thrift stores. I'm a master of using trade credit at Mr. K's Used Books, Music, and More to get "new" used books that I can't otherwise find at the library. 

Back then, I never would have thought I'd enjoy that happy moment stroking a hen's feathers, squatting on a chicken poop littered floor, wearing off-brand Croc clogs, an old skirt tucked around my legs, hair chopped short for ease, feeling a breeze through wire walls. 

Of course, then there was that moment this morning when I picked up a hand-knit dish cloth from the basement floor, planning to throw it into the wash...but hesitated when I spied a shiny black speck on it.  It was a spider. Possibly a black widow because it was so shiny and glossy. In my dumb curiosity, I stalled too long and it flew towards me faster than...well, than anything with less than non-poisonous, evil purpose would. Obviously, it intended to kill me. I couldn't find it after I did my freak-out dance, so I totally stripped, threw the dish cloth, and my clean clothes I'd been wearing, into the washing machine, slammed shut the lid, then ran up the stairs and through the house--completely naked. Good thing I live up on this mountainside.

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