Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Weight Of It All

The Road Home

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!

hen fruit!

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?


coppered black marans pullet

Skee-Lo (he wishes he was taller) is getting big and pretty.

pensive rooster

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.

the hens have plucked every last tail feather from this rooster

As much as I like him, Skee-Lo is losing standing as Most Favored Rooster with me, because of this young guy:

cuckoo marans cockerel

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.

feeding birdies

Also, when they have to compete with turkeys, chickens can make themselves amazingly tall.

Sweetie insists that she is taller than a turkey

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.


  1. I'm really impressed with the chicken keeping. Can't do that in our condo (although our pet rules just say "No dogs" - nothing about chickens :) )

    How is Bella doing in kindergarten?

    (HUGS) with the situation with Alex.

  2. You were missed right back. I'm not a praying person, but I will keep Alex and your family in my thoughts. It seems so unfair that they can't find a treatment that works------and keeps working for him.

  3. The little cockerel looks like a Maurice or a Marcel and that turkey: wow. I always thought turkeys were supposed to be ugly. Thinking of you as a family and Alex in particular. Keep on keepin' on. This, too, shall pass.

  4. Lots of sympathy and prayers from this spouse-of-someone-with-bipolar. Sometimes it really sucks.

  5. Good thoughts for Alex. That kind of thing is just soul-mangling.

    Your chickens are beautiful. And lookit all those eggs! Is that from ONE DAY?!?! Man! Are you selling the eggs? We're up to (woot!) two eggs a day, and the dotter is about to start selling the extras to the neighbors...

  6. Two things:

    I love you and I have missed you.

    And, can you please explain this chicken to me:

    We are obsessed with it's furry like feathers.

  7. I thought about you yesterday; now I know why. (((Hugs)))

  8. I think about you often - and will cross my fingers that the right course of treatment will be found for Alex. You had asked about ECT the other day on Twitter -- I'll email you my story about that: it can work miracles!

  9. I've been missing you. Thinking of you all, and praying for you.

  10. I will think good thoughts for your family to get through all this as easily as possible. My brother is in kind of a dangerous situation right now and I know how stressed that is making me. I can only imagine if it was my husband. I will defintely keep you all in my thoughts!

    I am impressed with the chickens. Also jealous! I would love love love to do that. Unfortunately we live in a neighborhood with close together houses and that would not be allowed.

  11. Hey B, just saying hi. Good to see ya back on the Internets. Thinking about your husband, and sending lots of prayers and healing his way. Not to mention BIG HUGS to you!! Hang in there, it's the rough rides that give us all that character. Or something. ;-) Cheers, @Jasperblu

  12. Hugs to you and Alex and of coures, Bella!
    And the pictures? Poultry in motion.

  13. I was going to suggest Maurice, too! Or Pierre.

    Sending positive vibes and prayers your way ...

  14. Love the Poultry in Motion. ha ha Good to see you back blogging and tweeting. I hope you can hang in there till this storm passes. Take care of yourself.

  15. I had to show my husband Alan your chicken pictures; they are gorgeous. He & his father have kept chickens for years. Alan says to tell you--altho he cautions he's not an expert--to be sure to give them oyster shells (which I guess you buy at the chicken store). He didn't give them to the new group for awhile & one of the hens started eating fresh eggs some days, which is terribly annoying. I've seen her rush to a nest almost before a hen is thru laying. Alan's convinced it's because they didn't have enough calcium.

  16. Yo! My husband had one of those cysty things removed from his back. Except his was HUGE (seriously as big as my palm). My Dad had one removed from his shoulder too. They're pretty common. Glad to hear you got it taken care of.

    I think you should keep that cute little rooster. Keep him and name him George or Dave or something.

  17. For the new rooster - Pepe le Coo.

  18. Impressed by the chicken keeping, saddened by the sick husband. Hope everything works out.

  19. best wishes to you and yours!

  20. I'd been worried about you when you didn't post for so long. Looks like what I was worried about was what was going on. I was hoping you were just too busy "putting up for (the winter)" instead of "putting up with". Best wishes for help from the medical profession.

  21. I'm mostly a faithful lurker but I have a very fond spot in my heart for you and your family. Good thoughts for you all.

    The picture of the turkeys with their tails spread and feathers fluffed makes me glad to be an American. Isn't that weird?! I love those birds.