Somehow I anticipate this being a recurring subject on this blog.
Today, Zeus the Moose wedged himself into the gap between sectional pieces.
Some of you are aware I’ve been taking a beginning fiddle class. Some of you have heard my complaints that our dog Vinnie howls his way through every single one of my practices. So yeah, I don’t practice very often.
I have tried to play and record this phenomenon over the weeks without much luck. Either he wouldn’t howl while I was recording or the phone wouldn’t be set up, or the atrocious quality of my music would keep me from posting it anywhere.
But today, friends, today I got it! My fiddle teacher sent several samples of the music we are trying to learn, and while playing one of those I got a good example for you.
And so. For your listening pleasure:
This could mean he loves it. It could mean he hates it. Who can tell? But I’m going to assume he loves it because if he hated it he could leave via his dog door.
Every day after school Ethan asks me if he can go out and ride his ATV.
Fear not, Mothers of the World. It’s not a real one, it’s a Pow-Pow-Power Wheels style ATV.
This afternoon, shortly after he began, he came running in the house.
“DARN IT!!!” He yelled, clearly frustrated. “I HAVE TO GO POOP!”
And he did. For a very long time. This is not unusual.
Upon emerging from the bathroom, he refastened his helmet and told me, “Life really sucks sometimes.”
“Why,” I asked. “Because you had to stop ATV-ing to poop?”
“Yep,” He said. “I gotta tell ya’.”
Yesterday Laurel couldn’t find a book. She looked high and low for it.
“I know I was just reading it,” she exclaimed, “but now it’s missing!”
“That’s impossible,” Greg opined. “There is no way you were just reading a book and it suddenly vanished.”
Laurel’s response: “You’re talking to me and you claim such a thing is impossible?”
This morning I blew a kiss to Ethan.
He dodged it.
“Aw, man,” I pretended to pout, “I can’t believe you dodged that kiss!”
“Don’t worry,” he assured me, “Kisses can go around curves.”
“Oh, okay. That’s a relief,” I told him.
“But the thing is,” Ethan continued, “yours don’t corner well.”
Ethan: [crowing like a rooster]
Laurel: “Hey Ethan, you’re pretty good at that.”
Ethan: “I know.”
Ethan: “I was raised by chickens.”
Ethan has picked up the unusual habit of writing his name on his school papers and following it with ‘6.’ When I asked him why he did this, he told me his math teacher told the kids they should always write their age after their names on their papers.
He’s carried this habit through to everything, not just math.
Yesterday, his regular teacher sent home his graded paper with her own name and age on it.
Very clever, Mrs. N! Thanks for the chuckle – we too wish we could put that number at the end of our name!
As a kid, we spent a significant amount of time rounding up cattle that had gotten out through gates left open.
I thought those days were over.
Today I let our dog Vinnie out during lunch. That aggravating dog, he always wants out just as I sit down to eat. I forgot about him until he started barking.
“Maybe I should let him in,” I thought.
“This couch is pretty comfy,” I thought.
“He can just stay outside for a few more minutes,” I thought.
Some time later he still hadn’t come to the door. Curious, I dragged myself to the deck and there he was staring back at me, with a look of utter bafflement, surrounded by chickens.
“Shit,” I thought.
“Not again,” I thought.
As an aside – I had just finished donating blood. Two of the main directives for post-donation care include avoiding vigorous exercise and heavy lifting. Keep that in mind as we continue.
Out I went, in my good sneakers (again) because with livestock roaming all free-range in the neighborhood, I didn’t feel like I had time to put on my muck boots. Also, those chickens are fast and proper chicken-herding attire leans more toward running shoes than muck boots.
Vinnie saw me coming and frantically darted back and forth as though he were Lassie, trying to tell me Timmy’s in the well or some shit.
You see, Vinnie has never herded anything more ambulatory than an empty peanut butter jar.
At least I learned he doesn’t eat chickens.
Two of the girls were still in the pen. Those are the goody two-shoes chickens – they take after Greg. They didn’t follow the rooster on his quest for freedom. Unfortunately, they were in the minority. All the others take after me.
You know, if we were their parents and all.
Now, I’ve discovered a lot of interesting behavior when it comes to hens who have a rooster. Wherever the rooster goes, the girls will follow. This is good, because it keeps them all together in one neat little flock as you’re moving around the yard. This is bad, because our rooster isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed and doesn’t know enough to find his way back to the coop even when he’s being driven directly to it. Not so bright, that one. (See also: Attacking the human who feeds you. See also also: Not knowing where the hell the coop is or how to get back in.)
Clyde squared off with me like he was ready to fight but either the look on my face or the kick across the pen he earned the last time he pulled that crap caused him to reconsider.
I picked up a rake and a survey stake (“Why do we still have survey stakes lying about willy-nilly in the yard?” I thought). The whole lot of us started toward the coop, me waving tools around.
Then Vinnie headed us off and decided to strike up a rowdy game of tag.
“VINNIE, YOU DIRTBAG!” I hollered.
Right about then I realized I forgot to open the coop doors to get them in – but that would risk the goody two-shoes coming out. I abandoned my implements and my flock of miscreants and rushed inside to get some food to occupy the goody two-shoes girls while I rounded up their more mischievous compadres.
I got two of the naughty ones separated from the rooster and they went right into the coop, thank you very much. In short order, I had the other one in, too.
“This is going better than I’d hoped,” I thought.
Only one more left – the rooster.
After chasing that dummy about the yard for ten minutes, miserably failing to capture him, I alllllllmost just let him go.
“FINE, go ahead, asshat!” I thought.
“Go ahead, get your dumb ass eaten by the neighborhood fox. Then I won’t have to listen to you crowing at 4:30 a.m. anymore,” I thought.
“Jackass,” I thought.
But in the end I just couldn’t do it. I spent another ten minutes chasing him up and down the back yard, up the steps, over the patio, off the wall, into the neighbor’s yard, back to ours, back to the neighbor’s, around the hoop house, you name it.
Still that jerk wouldn’t go into the coop.
Oh, he’d get close…he’d get right there and I’d think, “Now I’ve gotcha! Ass!”
But alas, it was not to be.
I broke down just a little.
“I SWEAR TO GOD I AM GOING TO EAT YOU, CLYDE!!!” I yelled.
“I’M NOT KIDDING!!!” I warned.
Then two of the hens got back out.
“Motherf___________,” I thought.
(Well, wouldn’t you?)
Again, they didn’t take long to round up. Honestly, I think they’re smarter than the rooster because they a) recognize their coop and b) know how to get in it.
Finally I determined that because the rooster kept running past the coop door, I’d have to blockade it so he’d have no choice but to go in…or up.
Knowing he is not too keen on the whole flying thing, I dragged a big bale of straw over to barricade his escape route. I’m pretty sure that right now that water-soaked bale weighs about 60 pounds.
So much for the whole ‘no heavy lifting.’ And don’t even ask me about the ‘no vigorous exercise,’ after I ran full-bore around the back yard for probably twenty minutes in total.
Lo, it finally worked, and Clyde is back inside. All is well. I even found an egg in the yard – who knows how long they’d been wandering.
But you’d better believe I’m going to have another talk with Ethan about ensuring the nesting box door is latched securely.
5:30 a.m.: Flat tire!1
6:30 a.m.: Donut tire.2
11:30 a.m.: Fixed tire!
2:30 p.m.: Flat tire!3
2:45 p.m.: Donut tire.4
Stay tuned. The saga continues. And I should probably mention that so far I have only tied – and have not broken – my record for number of flats in one day.
1. According to Laurel, Ethan told her a tire was hissing on the car Friday afternoon. She told him she was sure it was nothing. This morning, I got all geared up to go to the gym, started driving up the road, and got no more than 10 feet before I knew something was wrong.
2. Thanks to Greg, who woke up early to change it while I went on to the gym.
3. Yes, the same tire. The store told me they had ‘fixed’ a ‘rim leak.’ I think they only thing they fixed were drinks for themselves and everyone else in the full 30 minutes it took them to perform this task.
4. I probably would have been quicker about changing it if I hadn’t called Greg to notify the school I’d be late to get Laurel, and if the friendly neighborhood weirdo hadn’t found me. Okay, maybe that isn’t very nice, but a lady came wandering around the corner, purse in hand, to ask if I needed her to call someone (no, thank you). Meanwhile, I’ve got my nose in a crappy slow factory jack and am clearly a good third of the way through doing it myself. She couldn’t stop talking, though she was pleasant enough – even offering to give me a ride to pick up Laurel (no, thank you). I found out she has a daughter who works in the ER at St. Luke’s; that she herself lives in Festus; that her daughter’s boyfriend is laid off; that she doesn’t like to go anywhere that isn’t part of her daily plan; and that now she plans to show up unannounced for visits. Lucky day! To her credit, she made an otherwise onerous chore into a good story I’ll laugh about for some time to come. That laugh is sorely needed, by the way, because I’m pretty ticked at the store that ‘fixed’ that tire. The only thing that would’ve been better would have been if she’d knocked the car off the jack because she was leaning against it the whole time I was working.
This evening, as I walked out on the deck with an article about rain barrels in my hand…
(I don’t know why)
…I glanced over toward the chicken coop and saw this:
“SHIT. Greg, I need your help!”
“I. NEED. YOUR. HELP.”
“What is it?”
“We have CHICKENS ON THE LOOSE.”
I dropped my paper and went tiptoeing as quickly as I could the rest of the way down the stairs. See, my pullets aren’t the kind of fantasy chickens I’ve read about, the kind who let you walk right up to them and pick them up like big babies, to be held and cuddled and bathed and whatever else some of these crazy chicken owners do. Kinda like my kids.
No, these girls – while arguably quite fond of us as the Keepers of the Krickets – they’re independent-minded and therefore certainly do not care to be handled. Or told what to do. Kinda like me.
As I approached, I saw yet another of them on the ground outside the pen. Meanwhile, two or three of them had jumped back inside.
“Okay,” I thought, “this is doable. I’m going to herd this one back around to the door” (which I had just opened because all the other pullets were safely out in the run away from the door).
The chickens haven’t got a lot of experience in being herded, but fortunately do have a desire to be with their own kind, so she stuck close to the fence all the way around…and then bypassed the open door and kept right on going, all the way back to the other side of the pen.
On the other side of the pen, after I’d finally caught her and deposited her into the netting, I thought I was done.
“What?” asked Greg.
“I LEFT THE DOOR OPEN.”
Well, he’d been trying to help me and so he hadn’t noticed either, and of course all the OTHER chickens were sauntering out the open door onto the free range, mooning us and smirking as they went.
“I didn’t realize I’d be herding chickens so early in my career,” I remarked, laughing. It wasn’t the first time I’d herded animals by virtue of an open gate. Anyone who’s been around farm animals knows they fully comprehend the implications of an open fence and they take advantage of it.
Greg, for his part, was having a bully of a time.
As I drove them back around the pen I caught Greg’s attention, insistently whispering (because you know, the chickens would have heard and understood anything above a whisper – eyeroll), “Open the door. OPEN THE DOOR.”
And as they came around, at least 3 of them went in the door. Hot damn!
But not the boss pullet.
Noooo, she kept right on going and headed toward the playground and Freedom!
Fortunately she hasn’t really figured out how much she can fly and it was easy to get around her and get her back in. Relatively easy, I should say. Easier than with, say, cattle.
So much for pullets on the lam. That netting over the top of the run is temporary. I had tied it with twine to keep them in and felt it was reasonably secure, but the girls had been jumping up and grabbing the twine for sport. They were successful in untying 2 strategically important pieces – enough to give them an escape route.
Time for that permanent run top.
And for me to stop underestimating these chickens.
I have to admit they’re entertaining as hell, though.
Ethan: “Mom, what would you like about being a dog?”
Me: “Well, I suppose if I had good owners it wouldn’t be bad at all.”
Ethan: “And you wouldn’t have to do laundry?”
Me: “Yeah, that too.”