Wednesday, September 10, 2008
The Weight Of It All
To everyone with whom I've been out of contact: I apologize. I've fallen down the rabbit-holes of poultry-keeping and bento boxes and having a kindergartner. And also, things are rough right now for my husband, and therefore for my whole family. His story is his to tell (or not tell) later, when and if he feels like it, so I'll leave the details to him. But to summarize, after a roller-coaster ride of extreme hypomania followed by deep depression over the last seven or eight months, culminating in a funk that he just can't shake, despite doing every single blessed thing the doctors and therapists recommend, we're basically starting over again from Ground Zero. Meds that once worked aren't getting the job done any more, and meds that might work better are off-limits due to profound side-effects particular to Alex. It's a harsh, harsh situation. He's unable to concentrate enough to work. The frustration of it all is taking a toll on our relationship, and we're taking drastic measures over the next few weeks to attempt to deal with it head-on. Only time will tell. We appreciate your kind thoughts, prayers, and any positive energy you can possibly spare on this matter.
I've meant to post several times, because things are happening that I want to keep track of, and I rely heavily on this journal for that. Let me see what I can recall just off the cuff.
Chickens. Holy cow, I love the chickens. Our rooster is gettin' jiggy, and the oldest pullets are giving me presents!
The Buff Orpingtons and the Easter Eggers are all either laying or just about to start laying, as is our lone blue Ameraucana hen. The next wave of pullets shouldn't be far behind in egg production: more Orpingtons and a few Cuckoo Marans. We have two hatches coming up in the next month in the incubator; one of blue/black/splash Ameraucanas, and a larger one of very nice Buff Orpingtons. I'm not certain I did everything right with the Ameraucana eggs in the incubator, but I'll know one way or another by the end of this weekend. Exciting! I feel a little more confident about the Orpington eggs. There is even one of our own little pullet eggs in with that hatch, simply because when we collected our first eggs from our girls, I couldn't tell Bella "no" when she grabbed one up and begged to hatch it. It's in there with the eggs I bought from an accomplished breeder, looking very small, and marked with a crayon 'B' for "Bella." I'm half expecting a "special" chick from that egg, but I do think it will hatch--the eggs I've cracked have definitely been fertile (attaboy, Skee-Lo!).
I've had several really neat barter offers for fresh eggs, all involving produce of some kind, which makes me extremely happy. I'm very much enjoying the small group of copper-black Marans pullets and cockerels we have now, and breathing a sigh of relief that they've made it this far with no mortality. Aren't they cute, with their little bell-bottom feet?
Skee-Lo (he wishes he was taller) is getting big and pretty.
And although, as I mentioned earlier, he is getting some hen-lovin' now, not all the girls are quite as enamored of him as he'd like, and this has caused him to get every last one of his tail-feathers plucked out by the ladeez. They call it "hen-pecked" for a reason, fellas.
As much as I like him, Skee-Lo is losing standing as Most Favored Rooster with me, because of this young guy:
He's a cuckoo Marans cockerel, and I LOVE him. When the chickens are free-ranging, he stays within sight of the back door of our house, and if I come outside, this little dude RUNS, as fast as his little chicken legs can carry him (which is pretty funny in itself), to my feet, and then just cocks his head and stares at me, demanding treats. Which I of course give him. I think he's going to make an awesome rooster, though I had no intention of keeping any of the cuckoo roos to adulthood. I never said I was logical. He doesn't have a name yet...does anyone have any ideas? Something French, perhaps? Remember, once I name it, it stays out of the stew-pot.
Speaking of chickens and cold pragmatism, we have now harvested our first home-grown birds, and cooked them on the grill. I'm fairly proud of us, and am happy to report that it was some of the most delicious chicken I've ever eaten. We have 18 more roosters awaiting the same fate, and I may post more about that later, because it really has been a fascinating learning experience. I have been surprised that the final act of butchering and processing an animal I raised from birth did not require the cognitive disconnect I was expecting to have to employ. Especially once I saw how immediate and painless our method was, I felt pretty good about it. These birds are living much longer, more natural, "bird-like" lives than their grocery-store counterparts, right up to the final moment, which is fast and kind. I like knowing that each bird I raise for food myself means one LESS bird going through the factory-farming system.
That catches us up with the chickens, I think. Wanna hear about my turkeys? Not today? OK, then, maybe later. But look at them! Aren't they awesome?
I will tell you this: There are few things as therapeutic and soothing as sitting outside in the afternoon feeding string-cheese to free-range poultry. I highly recommend it.
Also, when they have to compete with turkeys, chickens can make themselves amazingly tall.
In other news, I had that gnarly thing in my arm surgically removed the other day. Not because I finally got all responsible and decided to, in the words of my husband, "have that thing removed before it starts to talk," but because I messed around and procrastinated about it until it ruptured on the inside, causing a raging infection and requiring a very, very painful procedure to get rid of the not one but two cysts that I could have had removed in a simple and relatively painless procedure at any time during the last, oh, SEVEN YEARS. So, let me just say: If you have one of these benign, weird little lumps underneath your skin somewhere, just go and get the thing out. Do it today. You really don't want to wait until it asplodes in you, trust me.
I missed you, Internets.