Tag Archives: Eagles eating chickens

My Hissy Fit in the Costco Parking Lot

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I have the receipt in my hand, officially checked with blue highlighter by the attendant, as we wheel our two loaded carts out of Costco.  We get to the truck and as the Bearded One opens the tailgate, I glance at the receipt and the total seems high to me.  We did buy the champagne for my little sister’s 50th birthday party this coming weekend.  Still…

And then I see them.  Mega This-or-That Vitamins and Fish Oil Supplements, two entries totaling over $50, and I snap.  Not physically.  I look perfectly normal, for me.  But I can’t breathe, or move, or think.  It’s all feeling in the initial shocking moments of deep personal assault.

I fish the two plastic pill bottles out from under my carefully selected steel-cut oatmeal and organic cane sugar and match them to the sums on the receipt.

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Meanwhile, the Bearded One is dutifully unloading our monthly supplies, one gigantic boxful after the other.

My hands start to shake.  I want to weep.  Like when I seeded the sweet peas this weekend, the worms are all coming to the surface trying to breathe.  Everything that has made me mad for the last decade about the entire profit-driven food and health industrial complex is right here.  How I detest all this stuff.  My efforts are for naught.  I am defeated.  Hell, I’m insulted.  Who needs good food if you can just eat vitamins!

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“I am soooo mad,” I choke out.  I stomp to the front of the truck, open the door and slam it shut.  Then I open it and slam it shut again.  The truck rocks.  “I want to go home!”  I grab my purse and turn to march back inside the accursed big box store with its loud flashing screens so as to cancel my eye appointment scheduled at 1:30, in 35 minutes.  I take a few big steps away.

The Bearded One toots the horn.  My heart stops with the sound, and I turn and see him sitting in the passenger seat.  Come back to me, he is motioning.  You are in a crazy place.

I’m standing there alone in the empty parking space in front of our truck, at the outer edge of a parking lot the size of an airport.

And there he is, behind the windshield in the 1991 Toyota 4-Runner that is our sole transportation and that he dutifully took to Virge the village mechanic this week for a brake job.

The anger in my body stops rising.  I am mad, but I am breathing, and I can talk now.

And we do talk, and I do a bit of yelling inside the truck with the windows up.  Health insurance, our budget, my healthy cooking and the endless pharmaceutical ads for high blood pressure and cholesterol.  How on most any other subject, I’m comfortable giving him $50 leeway.  It takes me most of the half hour to get over this breach.  It’s just too much money, I say.  He has no strong feelings about the purchase and says he weights my discomfort heavily.  He’s willing to just go ahead and die years earlier.  He grins.  Damn him.  He offers to return the supplements and I insist on it.

We get home over an hour later, and I’m still weak, but the eye doctor was absolutely a sweetheart and the Bearded One did the rest of the grocery shopping alone while I got the eye exam.

He even checked his blood pressure at the grocery store and it was fine as per usual.

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I park in the driveway and see Ruby behind the gate.  Garfield sits on the deck railing.  And there is Sweet Tart, our new hen who is recovering from a dog bite, scratching and pecking, not a care in the world.  They are all getting along now.  Sweet Tart is the only chicken ever allowed in the back yard.

In fact, I have the distinct impression that the dog and cat are actually protecting her after the trauma this weekend when a bald eagle snatched our littlest banty hen right out of the lower pasture.  I saw it from the window, the stark white of its head and neck sticking up in the middle of the flock of chickens, who were
frozen in place as their only defense.

I watched with my somewhat blurry distance vision — soon now to be corrected with new glasses — as the huge bird that Benjamin Franklin so famously mourned as our chosen National Bird took off across the berry patch with Dusty in its claws.  Ben said the eagle was “a bird of bad moral character, he does not get his living honestly.”  Ben voted for the turkey, but it just wasn’t majestic enough.

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“Ruby and Garfield are protecting Sweet Tart,” I say.

The Bearded One nods and bear hugs me from behind.  He says a few things, but all I hear is, “I’m sorry.”

“I had a hissy fit,” I say and smile just a little.  “I’m sorry, too.”

“After we unload the truck, I’m going up to the barn and start carving you a wooden ladle as a gesture of good will.”

“And I’m going to order you your own personal blood pressure cuff from Costco.”

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Dust Baths

“Meow.”  It’s 4:15a.m. and I hear this inches above my head, outside my dirty-but-open bedroom window.  Garfield is on the roof.   I leave the windows closed on this side of the house during the day, when there’s dust from our beloved dirt road.  At night, I like the cool breeze.  Our second story bedroom is right over the cat condo which was the temporary evil cat Ditto’s territory all summer.  Now Garfield is bravely experimenting with the idea that the exchange cat from Attackistan really has returned to nursing school with our daughter.  He won’t take our word for it.

“Go to bed,” I whisper to him, and close the dusty window.  It’s been two days since she left, but he still won’t go back into his old digs even though I cleaned it and smudged it with sage smoke.

It’s the time of year when dust coats everything, when cleaning feels pointless but also more necessary than ever, and when I realize just how much dirt there is on the farmlet.  I see on the calendar that last year I cleaned the blinds and ceiling fan this week.  They need it again already.

I could have legibly drafted this go-round of Farmlet in the dust on the side of the truck, but instead the Bearded One and I go to the farm supply store for root cellar straw and more chicken wire for the coyote-proofing.

Our neighbor who was going to supply us with our first chickens told us this week that she’s been wiped out by eagles, never mind the dang ground forces and coyotes.  The eagles are relentless.  Another neighbor saw an eagle soaring straight down the middle of our road earlier this summer, 8 feet off the ground, never flapping even once.  We see owls doing this from time to time.  The neighbor presumed the eagle was after a chicken she’d seen loose up at the dead-end of the road.

All I’ve seen on the road lately are fog banks of dust and loud gangs, very appropriately called murders, of crows.  Twelve angry ones scream bloody murder at us at the road entrance as we turn onto the main road.  I’m thinking about my compulsion to clean, which I’d like to be shed of.  The Bearded One (who wouldn’t notice dust if he was swimming in it…) talks about eagles and says we should be okay because they need a pretty long glide-path and we’re a small clearing in the middle of some really big trees.

The lady at the farm supply store tells us that bulletin boards and Craigslist are the best places to get laying hens this time of year.  “Do you want hens or chicks?” she asks.  “Hens,” I say right off.  “We’ll work up to chicks.”  I tell her that we need a chicken starter kit, and she says that chickens are easy.  “Just have a dry place for them.  They clean themselves in the dirt, you know.” 

I go out to the parking lot and the huge bank of ripe blackberries I spotted when we drove in.  I pick while the Bearded One loads the straw.  And then he comes over and helps me.  The berries are huge and bursting with juice and we fill my gallon jug in fifteen minutes.  I just happened to bring it along.  Blackberry jamming this afternoon.

Blackberries, marionberries and boysenberries.

When we get home, the Bearded One hauls the straw bale up to the chicken house with the hand truck.  I see Garfield curled in a ball in the lower goat pasture.  He felt safe from Ditto over there, but after the eagle stories, I go out and scoop him up.  “She’s gone, dude,” I say to him.  “You don’t know, man,” he says.  “That’s what I thought last time.  She’s around here somewhere…”  He was about half her size.  This may take a few days.

He and Ruby follow me up to the chicken house which is wonderfully eagle-proofed.

Eagle, coyote, weasel and we hope racoon-proof aviary and chicken coop.

Garfield checks out the straw and then rolls in the dirt for a nice bath.  All the animals do it, chickens, cats, and Ruby especially, after I bathe her, she wants nothing more than to race outside and roll in the dirt.  And her coat positively gleams!  This strikes me as incredibly profound.  What is dirt?  What is dirty?

Hanging out together in the dirt.

Garfield feels so good he races down the hill ahead of me.  By the time I open the gate, I can see he’s jumped up into the open window of his cat condo.  He’s perched above his very own little bed, the dust billowing off his golden fur in the sunshine. “MEOW!” he calls out.  “She’s gone!”